Barrio Smallstream fly line review

The Barrio Smallstream is a specialist short head fly line for making accurate casts at close range, making it ideal for small rivers.

Barrio Smallstream fly line review
© Fly and Lure
Barrio Smallstream fly line review
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Barrio Smallstream fly line review
Estimated reading time 4 - 6 minutes

What is the Barrio Smallstream designed for?

The clue is in the name. It's a specialist fly line designed for use on smaller rivers and streams. However, it's also lovely to use on stillwaters if you're not covering huge distances and want to cover the margins.

What makes it better suited to small streams?

The Barrio Smallstream fly line has a much shorter head than a typical fly line. While a typical fly line might have a 40 foot head, the Smallstream has a head of just 24 feet. This means it loads the rod with far less line outside the tip than normal, so you can cast more accurately at close range than you could with a regular fly line.

What is the taper like?

The tip is fine enough to present a dry fly or nymph without splashing down heavily, but it's immediately followed by a fairly thick front taper, measuring 14 feet in all. That's followed by a thinner 7 foot belly, and finally a 3 foot rear taper - giving a head of 24 feet. It's followed by 66 feet of fairly fine running line.

How does it compare to the Barrio SLX?

In a way, it looks a feels a bit like a less exaggerated version of the Barrio SLX or the SLXi. This is a rear weighted spey line for single handed rods and features a much thicker and heavier head than that of the Smallstream.

Both are great for roll casting and close up work, but the Smallstream is nicer to cast, easier to get to grips with and a better line overall for everyday use on rivers, in my opinion. The SLX is lovely, but the Smallstream is much more subtle.

What about the Barrio Mallard and GT90?

It's got a shorter head than the Mallard's 33 feet and a much shorter head than the Barrio GT90, which measures 73 feet compared to the Smallstream's 24 feet. The Mallard is obviously closest in overall feel. The GT90 won't load a rod at close range, but isn't designed to either.

How well does it load the rod?

I have the five weight Barrio Smallstream fly line which I use on my Hardy Zephrus. It's a great combination, given that the rod the rod is somewhat fussy when it comes to lines. It loads with just ten feet of line outside the tip and casts beautifully with the full head around the tip region.

Is there a knack to casting the line?

Like any new line, it takes a little getting used to, but it's very easy and certainly less temperamental than the SLX. You can carry the head outside the tip and still manage to maintain a decent loop, but it works best when you shoot.

However, given that you're mainly going to be using it at close range, this is kind of irrelevant, but it is possible if you need it. On the field, George (aged 9) can easily wang it a good 70-80 feet.

What colour is it?

The Barrio Smallstream is the same pale olive colour that is used on the Barrio SLX and Barrio GT90 lines. While the other Barrio lines are available in cream and orange, the Smallstream is available only in olive.

How supple is it?

Mine has very little memory. When initially taken from the reel some minor coiling will be present, but it goes with a gentle stretch when you start fishing. Hopefully it will remain kink free, as my Barrio SLX has sadly been rendered unusable due to excessive memory, which is unusual for a Barrio line.

What is the coating like?

The coating is fairly slick and smooth. There's very little in the way of roughness or other textures. It runs through the rings quietly (and lines are often noisy on my Zephrus) and it shoots well.

What sizes are available?

Since the Smallstream is designed for smaller rivers and streams, it's only sold in smaller sizes. They're all weight forward floating lines and come in sizes from 1# to 5#.

Should I get one?

I have quite a lot of Barrio lines and think they're great and represent excellent value for money. If you fish rivers and streams and need to present flies at closer range than usual I'd definitely get one. It certainly works a treat with my Zephrus, and it's very keenly priced at £27.60 delivered.

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