What is the Barrio SLXi fly line?
As the name suggests, this is the intermediate version of Barrio's SLX floating fly line. The SLX and SLXi are short belly fly lines with heavy heads - a bit like an integrated shooting head - and narrower running line.
The SLX and SLXi are really designed for roll and spey casting on single handed rods, but they're also brilliant on stillwaters as they let you load the rod with less line outside the tip than normal. You can cast up close, or you can cast to the horizon and turn over big flies with ease.
Are they fast or slow intermediate fly lines?
There's one of each in the SLXi range. The slow intermediate SLXi is a semi-opaque pale olive and sinks at about 1 to 1.5 inches per second. It's not quite as transparent as some "slime line" style clear intermediates (my Loop Intermediate seems to vanish when wet by comparison), but it's certainly quite well camouflaged.
The fast intermediate is a semi-opaque pale brown and sinks at 2.5-3.5 inches per second. This is the version I went for in #6 form, as I figured it would be just right for fishing lures on stillwaters and could also be used on the river.
What is the taper like?
Like the Barrio SLX floating line, the SLXi has a 33 foot head and a short belly and very fine running line. The head isn't as thick or exaggerated as that on the SLX, which is extremely fat, so it zips through the rings a bit quicker due to lower friction.
What sort of core does the SLXi use?
The Barrio SLXi uses a nylon core. This means it's more translucent than some other intermediates, but it can also mean the line is a bit more prone to coiling, especially in very cold weather.
However, recent sessions with the SLXi show that it's nice and limp and there are zero coils in mine. It lies nice and straight, even when the weather is cold. A very gentle stretch as you first pull the line off the reel will ensure it's nice and straight all day.
The same can't be said for my SLX, which has decided to retain some memory or twisting after a winter on the reel unused. I've tried a number of things to fix it, but it would appear that I've wrecked it within the space of a season...
Do I need to do anything to it before use?
I tend to remove my lines from the spool before attaching them in order to ensure that coils aren't introduced.
With intermediate lines, it's often also wise to give them a wipe down with a wet cloth before use. If you don't do this, you may find that it takes a session or two for your intermediate line to sink properly, which may hamper your fishing a little.
It took at least a couple of trips before mine starting to sink quickly and it wasn't until I gave it a good wash and wipe down that the problem went away. Presumably that gets rid of the manufacturing residues that are stopping the line from sinking fully when brand new.
How does it compare to the Barrio SLX?
Like the Barrio SLX, the SLXi is great fun to cast. It takes a little getting used to, as it loads the rod much more quickly than a regular line, and it's also a tad over the line weight rating, so feels perhaps a bit overloaded on some rods.
Handling it is also something you'll need to learn. To get distance you need to use it like a shooting head, but it absolutely flies when you get the technique nailed. That said, you can also carry a fair bit of line outside the tip. If anything, I think I can carry more on the SLXi than on the SLX. It seems a little more stable in the air too.
It excels at roll casts (I could easily roll cast it 40 feet), but it's also great for basic casts too and it works brilliantly when you double haul. Making nice tight loops is fairly easy and it's nice and stable when you learn how to control the head. After a few flicks it was fairly easy to cast the full line down to the backing!
The Barrio SLXi feels slightly different to the SLX. The head is a lot thinner than the SLX's head, which is extremely chunky, while the running line is thicker on the SLXi and not as supple, presumably due to the differences in coatings or core used.
Like most intermediates, once it's been submerged it feels nice and slick and will zip through the rings very quickly. It loads rods well - it handled excellently on my fast Orvis Helios #6, my Loop Evotec #6 and also worked really well on the #5 Hardy Zephrus for which I bought it.
How much are they?
You can only buy Barrio fly lines direct from the manufacturer, Mike Barrio. The Barrio SLXi costs just £27.60 including free delivery, which is about a tenner cheaper than the floating SLX. Given the prices of most mainstream premium fly lines, that's quite a bargain.