Interesting profile, the SLX diagram shows a 24.5ft front taper to a 4ft belly, followed by a short (4.5ft) rear taper with an ‘additional’ 12.5ft taper behind the head. The blurb lists the head length as 33ft which I think is right because that 'additional' taper acts more like the handling line I might put between a shooting head and thin shooting line.
So, I have a fly line with a fairly short head by contemporary WF standards. That long front taper means this is set so more of the weight is near the rod tip. The general head shape reminds me of Wulff Triangle Tapers and is almost the mirror opposite of Barrio’s GT lines.
At 33ft this line weighs 12grams, so at the AFTM standard 30ft this 5-weight weighs approximately 10.9grams; therefore, technically, this is a #6 line. I can almost hear one or two purists grinding their teeth at this point, however, the simple fact is that 10.9g and 12g are well within the range of mass I normally cast with DT or long-belly #5 lines. In fact, with a DT5 if I false-cast 60ft of fly line, which I often do, the line in the air weighs more than 18grams. So, while this #5 line is overweight, actually a #6, it suits the rods I normally match with DT5 or long belly WF5 lines.
Put the SLX on a rod and it takes a short time to get used to how this behaves. The head section is pale-ish olive to cream running line, the contrast there is too slight for me, in dim light I can’t see the colour change coming. I can have the same line with an orange head, visible but loud, maybe I'll just get out a marker pen. This head length feels tidy, with a 9ft rod this feels handy and responsive. Casting overhead if I don't look and find the head, I automatically want to carry a little more, it'll take some discipline to break that bad habit. My maximum carry has the handling line just outside the tip, that yielded my maximum distances. Pull back a few yards so the rear taper is at the tip and the SLX is a lovely exact line. This turns over positively, loops tend to be tight and/or tighten as they travel. Then try a few roll casts and, arguably, the SLX comes into its own.
This rear weighted form of head is common among so-called Spey lines for good reason. With the leader and tip of the fly-line on water, I have most of the weight close to the rod tip, when I make my casting stroke my rod moves the heaviest portion of the head, which then drags the lighter part behind it. No surprises the SLX is an excellent line for roll and Spey-casting.
As I became used to the SLX, the head length and how the taper loads the rod, the simple usefulness of this line really began to shine. As this line disciplines me I false-cast less extravagant lengths, for a change I actually want to know where the rear of the head is. With a flick I can roll the head, co-ordinate that with a haul and I can shoot line. Lift the head and it shoots freely. The tip turns a decent length of a muscular tapered-leader very neatly, in fact turnover seems to take care of itself. Hmm, off the top of my head I can think of only two characteristics where a long-belly line (DT or WF) may have an edge – pick-up and brute distance.
I'm tempted to say the SLX makes casting easier, but that's maybe a slight exaggeration. However, turnover is so consistent it might just be. It's certainly an excellent, versatile, fishing line which I'd happily fish on rivers and stillwaters for trout, and in heavier sizes for sea trout.
Price: £35 (From 4 to 8, olive or orange heads.)