Airflo Bandit Ridge 2.0

Simon Taylor gets in the groove with the enhanced Bandit Ridge

The Airflo Bandit fly line has been around now for five years or so, and was designed specifically for the NZ and Australian markets. The Bandit’s taper, along with the olive/brown camo colour of the line, was developed with ‘back country’ anglers in mind.

To get a proper comparison between the new Bandit Ridge 2.0 and the original line, most of my early season trips fishing with mates involved setting up two identical 5-weights: one rigged with the new Bandit Ridge 2.0 and the other with the original. 

Both the original Bandit and the new Bandit 2.0 Ridge line share the same user friendly and versatile taper. A taper which loads the rod quickly, has enough power to turn over bulky flies into strong winds, but is still forgiving enough to enable anglers to present delicate casts and small flies when required.

One of the first things I noticed was that the new Bandit felt more supple. It felt softer in the hand and comes off the reel holding very little memory, even straight out of the box. When fishing a few freezing cold days in the Tassie Western Lakes in early August, the line remained supple. 

In sight fishing, long casts are rarely needed. However, on the few occasions when distance was required, the Ridge 2.0 technology helped the line pass through the eyes of the fly rod with little effort. The combination of slickness and reduction of surface area makes a notable difference and helps produce faster line speeds, making casts more efficient when pushing into head winds, and improving shooting ability. The smaller, less aggressive size of the ridges also eliminates noise, and the friction cuts that some ridge lines are known for producing.

Another standout during our comparisons was the improved buoyancy. It floated better and sat noticeably higher on the water than its predecessor. A pet hate of mine is fly lines that sink at the tip, and the increase in floatation made the new Bandit very resistant to sinking tip-first, even when fishing wet flies or during long drifts with heavy nymphs. The improved buoyancy also made the line easier to lift off the water when re-casting.

After a few months of solid testing, there is no doubt that the new Ridge 2.0 is a better version of what was already a great fly line. The new Bandit is fantastic, and now after fishing the textured Ridge 2.0 technology, it is clear that I need to start saving to update all my current Airflo lines to their latest and greatest Ridge 2.0 versions.