What is the Barrio SLX fly line?
The Barrio SLX fly line is a specialist rear weighted spey style fly line. It's designed for fishing for sea trout and salmon on rivers using single handed rods, especially using spey style fly casting techniques. It's also great for standard overhead fly casts and is almost equally good at presenting smaller flies, too. It's also a handy fly line for casting big trout flies on stillwaters.
What's the taper like?
It's rather different to a regular weight forward fly line. The front taper and tip are heavy and thick and measuring 24.5ft so it feels much chunkier in the hand that other lines. The tip tapers down gradually to aid presentation, but there's a noticeable difference in the thickness of the front taper and the belly.
After the thick front taper, there's a 4' belly and a 4.5' rear taper, which works a bit like the handling line you might use with a shooting head. This is attached smoothly to a very fine and slick running line measuring 57' in length.
The running line is much thinner and more supple than a standard WF line, and it really aids shooting line.
Are they true to their line weight ratings?
According to Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine, the Barrio SLX is a fraction heavier than a standard fly line of the same weight rating. Therefore my six weight SLX loads my rod slightly more than a typical true-to-weight six weight line would.
This actually makes casting a fair bit easier and suits my rod (an Orvis Helios) very well.
In what line weights is the Barrio SLX available?
The Barrio SLX isn't just made for larger rods and heavier line weights. While they're available in WF6, WF7 and WF8 for sea trout and salmon, the SLX is also made in WF5, WF4 and WF3, so there's a model for every rod and situation.
What's it like to cast?
While, like any new fly line, it does take a bit of getting used to, it's great to fish with and casts brilliantly. Being so thick, the front taper doesn't exactly fly through the rings, so you'll want to leave this portion outside the tip where possible.
The very thin and supple running line absolutely flies and you can easily cast 70-80' with only gentle hauling, once you learn to handle it.
Like other Barrio fly lines, the SLX is soft, supple, slick feeling and has very little memory, so it's great to use.
What's the trick to casting the SLX well?
Obviously it excels with roll and other spey style casts, where no particular changes are required to your casting action. It loads easily and casts really well at a variety of ranges.
Overhead casting takes a little more practise. I'm only a mediocre fly caster and am no expert in the physics of casting, but for me it works best when treated as you would a shooting head line.
The really thick front taper is much slower through the rings than the thinner running line, so if you're casting further you'll want this outside the tip.
I aerialise the head and a bit of the handling line outside the tip, then shoot the rest. Loop control is excellent if you do this, but if you overdo the amount of overhang you have outside the tip it can become much harder to control and your loop can collapse.
However, when you figure out how it's done it will absolutely fly! That thin running line is incredible. It goes without saying that's it's awesome for roll casting, of course, as it's designed for exactly that.
How good is the turnover?
I've only used the WF6 Barrio SLX and this is great for turning over big bulky flies. While these fly lines are most likely to be used on rivers for salmon and sea trout on single handed rods, they're also good for casting big, bulky flies for trout on stillwaters.
With a thick butted tapered leader to transfer the energy from the line down to the fly they turn over big flies with ease. Barrio reckon the bigger sizes cope easily with salmon flies, small tubes and poly leaders too. The biggest of my trout flies were certainly no problem for this line.
What colour is the Barrio SLX?
Barrio make the SLX in two different colours: olive and orange. The olive version has a darker head and a paler cream running line so you can see where the head is when you want to cast, the orange one has a brightly coloured head and a paler cream running line. I went for the more subtle olive version.
Are these only available as floating lines?
The Barrio SLX is a floating line, however, the same taper has now been applied to an intermediate version called the Barrio SLXi, though this no longer seems to be listed on the Barrio site.
The SLXi is/was available in two different densities: a pale olive version with a 1.5 inches per second sink rate, and a pale brown one with a 2.5-3.0 inches per second sink rate.
How much does the Barrio SLX cost?
The Barrio SLX costs £36 including free worldwide shipping. They're only available from Mike Barrio's website and can't be bought elsewhere online or in the shops.
Mike Barrio's fly lines are all very reasonably priced and really good quality for the money. We have at least half a dozen of them in various guises and they're all great. You can see why they've got something of a cult following among fly fishers, including the fly casting geek fraternity.