Essentially a short-belly line: 14ft front taper, 7ft belly, 3ft rear taper. So this has a very short belly but the head length (24ft) is of course the more important measurement. This is a short-head line, designed to optimise fishing at short range. The short head also matches shorter rods rather well – and, of course, shorter fly-rods are typically used when fishing at short range. This feels smooth, supple and very limp indeed. I used the #5 version on rods rated #5, and which I tend to match with #5 lines. As with any unfamiliar line it takes a little time to adjust, to find the length of carry which suits shooting, to find the sort of punch needed to make a leader turn smoothly. I fiddle with leaders, adjust lengths and diameters, until I like the arrangement.
This is an unassuming line, nothing is dramatic. Turnover is smooth and relatively gentle. This seems to ask for modest length leaders and fine tippets. The length and weight of the head seems to me to suit the rods I tried, this is not trying to pack the head-weight of a #5 line into a shorter head - so my rod is nimble.
Extend the head to the rear taper, with a leader I am aiming at targets around 30 feet (10 metres) from my toes. The fly floats down. Cast shorter, and again the fly touches the target. Then longer, go for about 50ft: with a 'normal' WF line there would be no need to shoot line to that range. With the Smallstream I'd be false-casting with about 20ft of running line beyond the tip-ring. Not good practice. Actually you can cast the Smallstream that way, but it's a lot easier and casting is more accurate if you get used to the head length, find the sweet spot and shoot the rest of the line.
Looking at the design of this tiny head, most of the mass is towards the tip of my rod. On shorter rods this roll-casts nicely and on a 9ft rod that weight distribution seems to make the line pretty stable in the air, turnover is smooth and consistent.
A floating line for fishing close, for casting close, for accuracy and delicate presentation. The Barrio Smallstream is available in five line-weights, WF1F to WF5F.
Price: £27.00 (very good value)