I tend to be a creature of habit, often sticking to things that work- a reliable reel, a tried and true fly rod, even a lucky hat. Fly lines are the exception for me when it comes to fly fishing. Over the past few years I’ve fished quite a few of the premium 5wt fly line offerings on the market and am constantly let down in some regard, most frequently a lack of durability. I had heard of the durability that Airflo’s new lineup of PVC-free fly line’s have been touted for and was excited to get my hands on a few. Over the past couple of months I’ve been able to put a few of them through their paces.
The Airflo Superflo Universal Taper was the first Superflo line I spooled up on my 4/5 Ross Reels Animas. This line is available in line weights 3 through 9 and I opted for the 5wt to pair with my 5wt Sage Foundation. This line comes with a muted green running line and tan shooting head, great for targeting weary fish.
One of the first things that I noticed when I pulled the line out of the packaging was how slick it felt. I’ve fished some smooth and textured lines as of late from Rio and Orvis and Scientific Anglers but found this one to be particularly slick. This feeling was later confirmed on the water as I could effortlessly shoot and mend my line as needed.
Taper profile and head length are two of the most important characteristics to consider when selecting the best fly line for any given fishing scenario. The Airflo Superflo Universal Taper is designed to tackle any scenario that a trout angler may encounter as it’s name implies.
It has a relatively short front taper at 8’ long with a 39’ overall head length which makes it capable of turning over streamers while still maintaining the ability to delicately deliver a dry fly when called upon. In the 5wt model, I was able to easily cast a weighted, multi-fly nymph rig, long leadered dry flies and also weighted Polyleaders with streamers.
Once I had rigged my Sage, I was eager to hit the water and put the Airflo Superflo Universal Taper through some different scenarios. Starting my time nymphing, I immediately noticed how easy it was to pick up and mend this line. Due to the chemical composition of the fly line coating, Airflo has been able to reduce the line diameter which is intended to improve on the water performance, another advantage that I can confirm.
This is a smooth line that does not contain texturing like offerings from some other manufacturers but I didn’t see any decrease in the way the line shoots or the floating performance of the line. The line floated high as did the front taper that has a generous welded loop.
Which brings me to my next point, the welded loop found on Airflo lines is larger and more durable than others on the market. This made changing from fluorocarbon nymphing leaders to Polyleaders for streamers a breeze. Airflo has also seamlessly doubled the line back on itself to create an incredibly durable loop, a frequent point of failure on many Rio lines that I’ve fished. The true test of durability will continue as I fish this line however it is not showing any signs of use after being stepped on and fished thoroughly for a few months.
Rather than using PVC in their fly line coatings, Airflo opts for a polyurethane coating that enables making smaller diameter fly lines that mend better and shoot farther. One of the biggest advantages from a durability standpoint is that Airflo lines aren’t susceptible to sunscreen, bug spray, and other every day products that can be harmful to traditional PVC fly lines. Maybe best of all, polyurethane is a fully recyclable material and it lasts longer than PVC so you can fish with a clear conscience.
While I have generally enjoyed my time on the water with the Airflo Superflo Universal Taper fly line, there were certainly a few minor drawbacks. The first thing of note is that the Universal Taper seemed to be true to its line weight and casting a fast action rod, I might have preferred over-lining my rod with a 6wt line. That’s a personal preference but something worth noting.
One characteristic of some other fly lines on the market is a multi-colored shooting head that designates the midway point of the head for gauging casting distance. The Airflo Superflo Universal Taper has a uniform tan colored shooting head until the transition to green at the rear taper, so you don’t have that added distance gauge. Again, maybe more of a personal preference than an actual product shortcoming.
The last thing of note was some amount of line memory. Right out of the package, this line retained much of the coil but was able to be stretched out prior to spooling my reel. After fishing on a sub freezing degree day in Colorado, I did notice some line memory start to happen again as the line peeled off of my reel. This was pretty minor but one of the only real drawbacks to this line in my experience.
Making the Switch to PVC-Free Flylines
If you’re considering making the switch to a PVC-free fly line from Airflo, some other considerations for the trout angler are the Airflo Superflo Power Taper for large flies & Superflo Tactical Taper for ultra-delicate presentations. Priced at MSRP of $100 the Airflo Superflo Universal Taper is made to compete with the Rio Gold, SA Amplitude Trout, and other universal taper profiles. After a few months of fishing the Airflo Superflo Universal Taper, I’d be willing to pick up another one of these lines and will certainly be putting some other Airflo Superflo models to the test to find the most durable option for my rod and reel setup.
Be sure to check out Airflo on Instagram at @airflofishing.
Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords. He can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod. Check out his adventures at @evangarda.