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RIO GripShooter Review

Posted on July 18 2013

Rio Gripshooter
Slick but easy to hold on to.

It looks like RIO  has just changed the spey running line game with their new GripShooter line.  It’s running line that combines Slickshooter with a PVC coated ‘handling’ section at one end.  More details shortly – let’s start with the background.


Spey and switch anglers who prefer mono running lines like them for a few reasons.

  • Their smooth coatings, light weight and small diameters translate to maximum distance with little effort.
  • On longer casts, loops of stripped-in mono running line pop up out of the water easier.
  • Small diameters mean less drag as the line is swinging, sometimes giving more line control options.

Mono running lines have always had a couple of disadvantages, though.  There’s a bit of a learning curve associated with handling them, and it can sometimes be tough to pinch thin mono running lines against the cork of your rod.  Let’s hit that point in some more detail.

The Dreaded Slip

When you’re in the sweep of a spey cast, you’re loading your rod up with a bunch of kinetic energy that’s just about to get translated to the launch of your head across the river.  You maintain tension on your line by pinching your running line against the cork of your rod.  Once the cast is made, you release that pinched-off running line and sit back to watch that rocket launch of a cast you just made.

Mono running lines are thin and smooth, and that can make it difficult to pinch them against the cork of your rod.  If you lose grip on your running line during power application, things go very badly – running line slips through your fingers, all stored energy is lost, your cast goes nowhere, and your buddy has to hear you say some bathroom words.  Not good for anybody!

RIO’s Slickshooter line has always represented one extreme in the mono running line game.  It’s thin, hard and smooth, and it has an elliptical cross-section that minimizes drag during shooting since less of the cross-section can have contact with your line guides.  Slickshooter has always been one of the best options for distance.   Unfortunately, it’s thin, hard and smooth, and it has an elliptical cross section…and all those things make it really easy to lose your grip.  Particularly in cold, wet conditions, the Dreaded Slip tends to happen with Slickshooter.

Rio Gripshooter
Transition from coated section to Slickshooter

Enter GripShooter

So this year RIO took Slickshooter, coated one end of it with PVC and called it GripShooter.  Hearing about GripShooter was one of those “of course – why hasn’t anybody done that before” moments.  It makes a ton of sense, and it works great.

14 feet on the line end of a spool of GripShooter is coated with PVC.  The rest of it is normal Slickshooter.  When you’re set up to make a cast with the head out the tip of your rod, the coated section runs from just past your rod tip to just past your cork (more on this in a second).  You’re hanging on to PVC, but as soon as you start shooting line, you’re shooting Slickshooter.  Brilliant!  Best of both worlds!

GripShooter comes in 4 sizes from 25 lb to 50 lb.  We tested 44 lb, and found it really easy to handle.  It also shot like a mofo.  The coated line end of the spool has a big pre-made welded loop, making for an easy, smooth connection from running line to head.

We really think GripShooter is a fantastic concept that wipes away one of the major disadvantages of mono running lines (which we’ve always fished anyhow).


The downsides to this stuff are incredibly minor.

  • Pure mono shoots a teeny weeny itsy bitsy bit better – the PVC section adds a minuscule amount of additional mass and drag.
  • When you’re swinging your fly, unless you made a really short cast, you’re still going to be pinching mono against the cork – the coated handling section won’t help with most hook sets.  We’ve already told you the solution to that though – try some rubber tape on your cork.
  • For shorter rods like our 11’6″ test rig, the coated section is a little too long at 14′ – about 5′ more than necessary was coated, which again doesn’t help with distance.  We haven’t tried it, but there’s no reason you couldn’t just whack the loop off the front end of the coated section, trim to the length that fits your rod, strip the PVC off the end and tie yourself a new loop knot.
Rio Gripshooter
Top to bottom: head, loop, coated section

Wrap Up

All in all, we’re sold.  We love mono running lines, and GripShooter solves one of the major problems with them.  We’re going to be fishing GripShooter a bunch, and we think you should too.  You can find it at your local fly shop starting on August 1st.

Here’s our Product Review Policy and FTC Disclosure.

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