Line review: Rio Trout LT

gear bagWhen I first heard about the Rio Trout LT, I immediately presumed Rio foresaw a trend towards lighter rods and slower actions. Whether that’s the global case or not, it has happened, to some degree, around these parts. Hence, begging and pleading for some test product came naturally. Then, even before arrival, I started asking myself “what’s wrong with the Rio Gold I’ve been casting?” The answer turned out to be nothing, and everything, as this premium addition to the RIO lineup is every bit a special breed.RIO Trout LT

Rio bills the Trout LT as…you guessed it…the best thing since sliced bread for tight spaces and ultra-delicate presentations. The Gold is offered in WF3 through WF8, while the Trout LT can be had in WF1 through WF7 and double-tapered line weights 1 through 6. Yes, one-weight – it doesn’t get more dainty than that.

My personal quiver now ends at #4, but no matter. I’ve had this line out a half-dozen times, strung on a Scott G2 884/4 – that’s 8’8” of bona fide noodle, perfect for casting #20 dries in streams I could almost reach across with my stubby arms. The fact my aging eyes can barely see those flies on the surface is of no consequence – touchy-feely was secure for testing.

Get technical

The specifications* are what the scientist in you would expect from a light line – more progressive taper down to the tip, and redistributed weight to maintain AFTMA standards…

Running line length: 45.5 ft.RIO Trout LT fly line taper
Rear taper length: 5 ft.
Body length: 5 ft.
Body 2 length: 17 ft.
Front taper length: 10.5 ft.
Front taper 2 length: 6.5 ft.
Tip length: 0.5 ft.

*Data for WF4

The total head length – rear taper to tip – is 44.5 feet, and its weight is 220 grains. The 30 foot weight is 120 grains. By comparison, the Rio Gold WF4 has a rear taper of 19 feet, a body at 22 feet, a front taper of 5 feet, and a 5 foot tip. Its 30 foot weight is 126 grains. The Trout LT is only slightly lighter – its real performance differential comes in the thoughtfulness of its design.

As the folks at RIO explained it…

The first 30 ft weight of the LT is a little lighter than the Gold, whereas the overall head weight is slightly heavier. This is typical of a line with a rear weight bias as opposed to the Gold with a front weight bias. It is not so much the overall weight to look at, as much as it is the weight distribution. The lighter front end of the LT is what was important for the presentation aspects of the line, and the extra weight at the back was vital as I wanted to make it the finest roll/single handed spey casting line possible – and that needs weight at the back.

This made sense to me, as I’d already had the line out on the water a few times. Meanwhile, I also asked myself if another average joe, without the line in hand, would care. I decided probably not much.

What really matters

Some may ponder the fine details, but who the heck really understands that stuff anyway? We want a line that casts smoothly, lands gently, floats high, can be lifted off the water with little effort, and doesn’t get all slinky-like after a few days on the reel.

When I talk about casting, I’m not suggesting the Trout LT is prime for shooting across big water, as I can hardly “air it out” anyway that’s not what the line is for. I didn’t make any attempts either – most of the overhead time was spent with little more than 20 feet off the tip, using 5X leaders up to 10 feet. I was, however, able to consistently turn over all but the largest hoppers against strong breezes. Further, the line is incredibly non-splashy on landing, really showing off all that taper. Most of the roll casting I did was with nymphs, where initial presentation (i.e. what happens the moment the fly hits terra aqua) is not the main concern. Still, the line does what RIO says it’s supposed to: leverage the rear weight for effortless loading off the water.

Mending was similarly cake – the line (with one correctable exception) rode high, and combined with the soft-tipped rod I was using turned challenge into fun while navigating funky, rock-strewn currents. Lastly, I wound this line tight on a reel – purposefully tight – and didn’t even think about wiping it down for weeks. Not once did I experience a coiled-up first cast. Right before publication I pulled it off the reel and inspected it thoroughly – with little coaxing it still lays out straight on a tabletop, even if I now have peanut butter and jelly remnants to clean off it.


What could RIO do to improve upon the Trout LT? Not much. What might you do to improve it yourself? Play the same game RIO has with the DT version and ace the tip-side welded loop.

fly line nail knotSome folks love those welded loops, which have become standard fare on many fly lines. They circumvent the need for tying the ever-treacherous nail knot, and are very convenient for loop-to-loop connections to leader. If you’re delving subsurface with heavy nymphs or streamers, they are great. I don’t have a problem with how those tips land on the water either, but what I do dislike about them is the hydraulic resistance they create during the drift.

Scenario: I was standing on a rock, facing upstream. I had current directly in front of me running right-to-left, and another section fifteen feet to the left running moving straight down. In between the lopsided “V” was a pool churning straight to the left, fish feeding voraciously on the top. With a well-greased leader I could keep the fly from dragging, but the moment I’d lay that tip down all hell broke loose – I just couldn’t stack mends fast enough. I wound up high sticking a #18 dark brown elk hair caddis, spooking plenty of feeders while standing tall, and cutting the loop off the moment I got home. There’s just too much bulk there, particularly when you’ve got the leader-side loop, butt-section thick, attached to it, and are working swirling currents. Nail knots are the only way to go here.

Conclude if you must

RIO is the first to admit their latest isn’t suitable for today’s fast actions, and I’ll second the motion – I’m not sure this line would make my S4, or your GLX, Z-Axis, TCX, or NRX, very happy. If, however, you are into tight pockets, convoluted currents, light weights, and slowing it down (like those of us with aching joints), the RIO Trout LT is a serious contender.

MG signing off (to scrounge up some bamboo fiberglass?)



Rio Trout LT, eh? I might have to find a line or two to try on my ever growing stable of trout weight glass rods. Enjoyed the excellent review.

Well…that fiberglass mention did have The Manifesto in mind. Glad you liked.

tom says:

Yes….it does get more dainty than a 1wt. I was thinking of picking up a Sage 000wt for my next tarpon adventure. Your thoughts? Should I overline with the Rio Trout LT 1wt? Your expertise in this matter is appreciated.

John T says:

Between the LT and the Gold on the G2, which did you prefer? I’m looking at both lines for a 9′ – 4 G2. Many thanks for the review.

@TT – If you were fishing the double-aught, you’d be just fine. But the with triple you gotta go with at least a 10wt Trop Clouser, Intermediate clear tip – you know…like the one you sold me that I shredded in Holt’s trolling motor. 🙂 that guy a poling platform, will ya?!

On a more serious note:

@John T – Personally, the Trout LT. I’ve cast the Gold on my 9′ 5wt G2, but will probably switch the next chance I get. The Gold is great on faster rods, but I have seen the light.

tom says:

I’ll talk to him about building him a platform. Of course theres a chance it ends up being a Jake McKittrick PVC special.

Gracie…Gracie honey, come to Florida. Come to Florida Gracie…I miss you.

Singing off as Frank Rizzo, thats R-I-Z-Z-O, Rizzo.

I bet the 7wt. DT would be real nice for delicate capr applications.

@TT – A McKittrick PVC special? All the better!

@SH – I must admit I scoffed at the 6 & 7 wt DT offering, but then again I do not possess the brilliant genius of the ‘Zilla.

Sully says:

I’ve been throwing a DT 5 Rio LT for small bugs most of the summer.

Your take on the line is identical to mine: casts accurately, lands softly- what’s not to like?

Since the DT versions come without loops Rio solves THAT circumcision dilemma for you.

Also have a DT 4 Rio “Selective Trout”, the now discontinued precursor to the LT. Hate that line. IMO it required significantly more line speed than a 4-wgt should be carrying to propel it.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by K Wesley Howe, cathleen mackay. cathleen mackay said: Line review: Rio Trout LT | Michael Gracie: When I first heard about the Rio Trout LT, I immediately presumed Rio … […]

Serge says:

Thank you Michael for this nice review. I’m just wondering how this Rio Trout LT compare to Wulff Triangle Taper. The line geometry seems similar..

Not sure how they compare performance-wise, as I’ve never cast a Wulff line. But I think the TT is marketed as kind of a shooting line (isn’t it?) whereas the Trout LT is targeted at close quarters/roll casting situations.

Serge says:

They put it this way: “The Triangle Taper is a continuous forward taper in the head of the line, the first 27 to 40 feet, depending on the application. This provides the most efficient transfer of casting energy as it unrolls because the heavier line is constantly turning over lighter line. This design also gives you a more delicate presentation because the weight is away from the fly. It is also the finest roll casting line for up to 60′ casts.”
Some stores ( Leland i.e.) market it as fly line designed for bamboo and fiberglass rods, along with Cortland 444, as a presentation line.
Could be interesting to compare them back to back..

[…] Gold WF in 5wt for medium to large stream and stillwater. Nice, in-depth review on the Rio LT… Line review: Rio Trout LT | Michael Gracie and it's predecessor with a comparison to the Gold… A Fly Line for Trout and for Selective Fly […]

Kirk says:

I’m looking for the best line for my winton B3x 4 wt. Since the B3x has a faster action than my old winston IM6 that I love, the Rio Gold was recommended to me. However, I’m looking for a line to fish small streams with clear water, and then, yes, head over to a larger river where I need to cast a little farther. Most of my costs on the small stream are 30 to 40 feet. Sounds like the Rio LT could do that as long as it will load the rod properly. So – maybe the Gold accomplishes this better for this rod, but the LT has the kind of tip section I want for gentle presentations? It’s a dilimma for me.
Wondering what you think.

Kirk says:

I have another comment/question . . . how did we get to this place where we need a heavier line to load a rod supposedly designed for a particular line weight? My reasoning goes like this — stiffer rods were developed that could cast a line farther in a particular line weight than softer ones. People noticed that the stiffer rods didn’t load properly at shorter distances for the line they were supposedly designed for. Line companies then responded by making heavier lines. So now — you have heavier lines designed for faster action rods, and Rio comes out with a slightly lighter line that will pair with a slower rod.
Is this a fair description? And if so, why not put a line true to size with a rod and expect that it will cast OK up close, but the faster rod will push it better for longer casts? Or does this simply not work anymore?

Kirk, I’ll try to answer both questions here.

First, the Trout LT would do fine on a looser piece of graphite, but considering your circumstances I think the recommendation you received for RIO Gold is probably correct. It is more of an all-water line, but will still perform in tighter quarters to most anglers needs.

Second, I think rod design evolved into cannon building because that is what the up-and-comers demanded. Up until just a few years ago it seemed the glory cast outweighed dropping flies in Dixie cups, with fat-headed texture pushing the broomsticks to their limits. Coming full circle now, with medium action getting more popular again. For good reason I imagine too – they are simply much easier to cast! As trout go, Scott G2s (definitely softer sticks) are my favorites, or at least they were. Now genius Jim Bartschi has come up with the Radian, which both throws the long cast into the next county and has the power to punch through wind and subdue big fish, yet bends like yoga instructor for mending and fighting smaller fish. The line designers won’t have to go back to the drawing board though – it holds true to line weight. Expect others to try following, with emphasis on TRY.

Kirk says:

One more thing, Michael. I have to agree with you about the loops. Don’t like them. Got the idea from a Gary Bolger article way back in the 80s to nail knot a short section of heavy mono to the tip of the fly line, and attach my leaders to that (using a blood knot). Gary said it allows for a continuous transfer of energy . . . I like the way a nice tight nail knot goes through the guides, as well as how it behaves on the water.

The photo you give shows a coat of a clear polymer over the knot. I’ve been using a light coat of pliobond all these years. Are you coating the knot with epoxy?

UV Knot Sense. Don’t know about “energy transfer”, but with light lines the rig you suggest (which I also employ) definitely results in less drag when sitting on the water.



Kirk says:

Thank you so much for responding. Guess I’ll “go for the Gold.” It’s interesting to hear you say that a medium action rod is easier to cast. In my journey with fly fishing and fly casting, I fell in the the stiff rods early on. They seemed easier to cast for me. And then when I wanted to do some finesse fishing on Silver Creek, Winston was recommended to me. I bought my IM6 in the early 90s, after I’d moved to Montana. I learned to slow down my stroke, and let the rod do its thing. And it did. I enjoy fishing it, not only because I can drop a fly in a clear pool or pocket with minimum disturbance, but playing fish with it is pure joy. When casting and playing fish, the entire rod is involved, not just the tip.

But then last fall I developed a shoulder problem. Casting into the wind with the IM6 required a bit of effort with my sore shoulder, and some of my favorite dry fly fishing is in a windy place. So I bought the winston B3x I’ve been inquiring about. I can cast a shorter stroke with it and still get delicasy when it matters. It seems to handle the wind. I like the rod, but I wasn’t happy with the SA textured line I was using with it. Hence my question regarding the Rio lines.

It will be interesting to see if medium action rods make a come back as you wrote. Perhaps, as people’s fishing experience changes and, may I say, matures, they may want a rod that does more than just throw a line a great distance.

Milos says:

Hello! I have a simply question: decided to buy RIO LT for my vision vipu #4 fly rod but since ppls said this rod behave like #5 I have dilema what line to buy 4 or 5? By now, I fished with 5 WF lines but this one is kinda more better and expensive than lines I had before..Pls help! Thanks!

Don’t know the rod, but if you are already over-lining and feel that is right, you should definitely repeat with the Trout LT. It is a more delicate taper than most.

[…] Re: Rio gold vs trout Lt ts47 and everyone, Some time back I read a review of the Trout LT by Michael Gracie when I was researching lines for a new rod I had bought. I came across it again tonight when I was looking for a photo he used. Re-reading the review, he talks about the taper. He talks about weight distribution as opposed to total weight. The LT is a back weighed line as opposed to the Gold which is a front weighed line. He liked the line for medium action rods in presentation situations. It makes sense since many use this line with Scott G, Winston WT and other rods with like actions. Some years ago, when I was looking for the right line for a B2t I had bought, I called Rio about the line. The gentleman at Rio assured me the Trout LT was a great line for that rod — in fact he said they had designed the line for such rods. (Now you can understand why I was so confused to learn about the heavier head weight.) Anyway, here is a link to Michael Gracie's review of the Trout LT line going back to 2010: Line review: Rio Trout LT | Michael Gracie […]

Jeff says:

Several years old, sorry for coming to the party so late. Have you tried Rio’s Light Line or SA’s VPT and if so, how do they compare to this? I have a Scott F2 723 that needs a line. Used for small creeks, beaver ponds, and very slow, meandering water found far off any road. Recommendations?


I’ve tried neither line, and I don’t know the rod either (but congratulations on that Japan Special). I have played with the 703, and my general opinion is that fiberglass doesn’t require a lot of tuning; just throw a spec’d to weight line on it and go. Further, I’ve been using an Airflo Elite Trout on the Little Radian, and yet using a Delta (tapered more like the Trout LT) on the R854 (another shortened, fast-action stick); frankly can’t tell the difference (both work darn fine).

Lesson to myself: lines don’t matter that much unless you are getting into saltwater distances and wind; small rod manufacturers really know what the heck they are doing – and that is particularly true for Scott – so I just go with lines that can take a licking.

Cameron Mortensen might have another opinion – look him up at Fiberglass Manifesto.

Jeff says:

Thank you for the response and I agree to an extent, with your opinion on glass rods and line choice. They tend to feel a bit “lumberish”relatively speaking, as if there isn’t anything in reserve, no other mode to switch into if something should change. My local shop who has yet to steer me wrong is giving me similar recommendations but it never hurts to see what others think. Thanks again.

Bill S. says:

Rio makes good lines, as do others. I don’t quite understand all the weight shifting and taper business. If it’s light, then is it light for a four-weight? I mean, wouldn’t a four weight be a four weight? I read the fellow’s post about Rio’s Selective Trout line, which he hated. I’m going to buy the line I’ve used all my life, and it’s never let me down: Cortland 444 peach, in a double-taper.

When this line was released, many rod companies were in the midst of going fast. Probably because it sounded good. Tapers morphed around putting the weight of the line where it was needed most, in the case around that time, abruptly forward. The Trout LT was a more moderate taper – much like your double taper – and better suited for slower rods and lighter rigs i.e. single dry flies. As trout go, I pretty much only fish single dries nowadays, and use double taper or moderate tapers almost exclusively.

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