Trout Creek Lines

David Anderson reviews 3-weight creek trout lines from RIO and Scientific Anglers

At the start of the trout season, RIO sent me a Creek line to try. I ran it through two of my favourite 3-weight rods, a 7’9″ Sage LL and an 8’4″ Orvis Helios 3F over a wide variety of water through the season. While quite different on the water, one thing these rods have in common, besides that delicious medium action, is that I consider them about as good as fly outfits get with the weight forward RIO In-Touch Perception lines I use.

As good as the Perception might be, with the Creek line, I found both rods better again, as they loaded up faster and gained a snappy feel that made accurate short and sharp casts almost mindless, while longer casts involved little more than a well-timed haul.

This might have been the end of a very short review had Scientific Anglers not recently sent me their new Amplitude Smooth Creek Trout line to try, so I’ll have to hit the park and start all over.

Designed specifically for small streams, these lines are similar in having short heads in front of a thin running line. They provide quick loading for short casts, excellent roll casting and easy loop control and accuracy you need out of a light rod in that environment. 

Their main advantage over a weight forward line is that the fast loading has all the benefits of over-lining, i.e. using a 4-weight line on a 3-weight rod, without the disadvantage of rendering the rods into little better than noodles on medium or long casts. Technically, both lines are one line weight up, but the taper design favours distance casting, and in this respect, they are game-changers. Where they start to differ is the design of that head.

Looking at the line profile charts, the RIO carries most of its weight in the first 15 feet of the head while the SA, with its longer front taper, keeps more weight in the back 20 feet of the head.

LineLine SizeHead LengthFirst 30’ weightLength
RIO CreekWF3F30′120 gr75′
SA Creek TroutWF3F22′120 gr90′

In practice at short distances, this doesn’t seem to have a great effect and both lines feel very similar and capable through either rod up to about 30 feet. After that, the SA becomes more aggressive and has a sharper transition from head to running line. You really need to be shooting line, rather than holding it up in the air with false casting when looking for more than about 40 feet. That said, it’s an incredibly slippery line and very easy to shoot, particularly on the longer Orvis rod, where casting the full 90 feet is quite simple.

With its longer back taper, the RIO rides off the head smoother and it is perhaps easier to keep in the air up to about 50 feet, even on the shorter Sage rod. It still offers solid distance performance however, if your casting is up to it. 

RIO Creek Taper

SA Creek Trout Taper

In truth, I’m splitting hairs to a point, but I can see where these tapers would compliment different rods. Looking forward, I will be using the SA on my Orvis and the RIO on my Sage.

As great as this type of line is, know that there is one big caveat in that using either of them requires enough casting experience to manage the transition off the back taper onto the running line. When looking for distance, an experienced caster will use the line like a shooting head and have no challenge throwing the full length. Novice casters will struggle beyond all but short distances until they develop a sense of the transition.

Whatever your level of casting, this type of line requires a change in casting to get the best out of it. Up to thirty feet, it’s all Goldilocks bobbing for porridge; after that, you have to be dialled in.

The RIO Creek is available from 0 through 5 weight and from 65 to 80 feet long depending on line weight, while the Scientific Anglers line is available from 2 through 6 weight and 90 feet in length.