Rigs Floating T-Line VS Blue Ribbon Flies 000 Double Taper Floating T-Lines
I didn't really need to do this experiment for my own use, but I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a Blue Ribbon Flies BRF Floating 000 Wt. Double Taper Tenkara Fly Line to see if it held any advantages over using Rigs Floating HiVis Tenkara Fly Lines for the Tenkara fly fishing community. There are some significant differences between these two floating T-lines, which, depending on your point of view, may provide some distinct advantages for some T-anglers over the other lines available. To most T-anglers the cost of these lines may appear to be too expensive to begin with, but looking into what these lines have to offer and can do for you will show that there is value to be had in either or and both these approaches to getting a floating Tenkara fly line.
The Rigs lines come in two sizes: a 12 foot long line @ $26.95, and a 15 foot long line @ $29.95. The Blue Ribbon flies (BRF) 000 Wt. Double Taper Fly line comes in an 80 foot length, at a cost of $29.95 per line. But with the BRF line you may need to purchase additional materials to make up a usable line out of what you get for that price, including things such as Zap-A-Gap Glue, Amnesia and/or Sufix Nylon line, and or fluorocarbon line and tippet materials in various pound test ratings that you may not already have. You will also have to fabricate a line to lillian connection, which can be made out of fly line backing, Spectra or Braided Line Loops glued in place. All the knots used should be welded together with super glue or light curing goos before use as well. With the Rigs line all you need to do is connect the line to your T-rod, add tippet and a fly or flies, and you are all set to fish. I believe BRF is selling the BRF Floating T-lines at slightly above their cost as a service they offer to the Tenkara Fly fishing community. The BRF Floating T-line is the same line as RIO's Trout Series, TROUT LT LINE, which costs $74.95 from Blue Ribbon Flies and everybody else. Of course you do not get the fancy box, spool and all the informative literature with the BRF line that you get with the RIO line, but most of us just throw all of that stuff away, anyway.
THE CONSTRUCTION STEPS NECESSARY TO BUILD A FLOATING TENKARA FLY LINE FROM SCRATCH:
In opening the box from Blue Ribbon Flies, you will see a labeled plastic bag holding the 80 foot long coil of 000 Wt. DT. floating fly line. There will be welded loops present on both ends of the line. One end of the line will have a tag that says "Attach This End To Reel". You could use the welded loops already on the line but they are a lot heavier and thicker than the line below the welded loops is, so its best to cut the loops off. Which loop you cut off doesn't really matter. Both ends are the small ends on a double taper fly line. Nail or Uni-Knot on a 2 foot long or so length of 15 Lb. test Red Amnesia, or 14 Lb. test bright Yellow Sufix Nylon line to the fly line, and trim the line tag ends away when you are done. Use Barrel or Double Uni-Knots to add in line segments every 12 inches or so to make up the leader, and finishing the leader out with 12, 10, 8 and 6 Lb. test sections of either nylon or FC line or tippet material of your choice, finishing off the last section of the leader with the loop knot of your choice. The tippet will be added, as needed, by looping it on to the leader. The loop-to-loop attachment prevents the leader's taper from being cut into and having to be retied to add on new tippets as you go a long, making the leader a permanent part of your floating T-line. The line in between the tapered ends of a DT line is the level section of the fly line. So on an 80 foot long line, the level line would be about 60 feet long. Floating fly lines are much more visible to the fish than furled, level or tapered FC T-lines are that are held up and off of the water. So you need a lot more space in between your fly and your floating T-line than you need to have with the more traditional furled, level and tapered FC T-lines.
COMPARING THE RIGS 12 FOOT LONG AND THE 14 FOOT LONG BRF FLOATING T-LINE I BUILT UP:
Although Rigs states that the length of my line was 12 feet, the actual floating fly line section length is 9' 10" long, the other 2 feet or so long section is made up of the HiVis Amnesia/ mono extension in two steps. I cut off the tippet ring on my line and added the rest of the leader to both of these lines, as I described above. The length of the fly line on the tapered BRF line is 12 feet, with the rest of the leader being as identical as I could make it to the leader on my Rigs Floating T-line. I went with 12 feet because I wanted to be sure that I included all of the front taper on the DT. Floating fly line.
THE RESPECTIVE LINE WEIGHTS GIVEN IN GRAINS:
Fortunately I have a powder scale so I was able to determine the exact weight of the two different lines, including their leaders but with out any tippet weight included. The Rigs Floating T-line now weighs 17.4 grains with the modifications I have made to it. The longer, tapered BRF line weighs 22.4 grains. To put this in perspective, a 1 Wt. RIO LT DT. fly line weighs 66 grains for the first 30 feet of the line. A 000 Wt. DT. RIO LT fly line weighs 40 grains for the first 30 feet of that line. But in T-fishing we will usually be using considerably less than 30 feet of line to fish with.
COMPARATIVE FLOATING T-LINE DIAMETERS
The diameter of the Rigs Floating level T-line is 0.024 inches for its whole length. The diameter of the BRF DT. T-line ran between 0.024 and 0.030 inches at the point where I cut the big end of the line, which I believe included all of the front taper of the line to maximum line diameter. The thicker diameter also adds weight to the line over what the same length of a level line would weigh.
RIGS VS THE BRF FLOATING T-LINE CASTING IMPRESSIONS:
I have fished with the Rigs Floating T-line for more than a season now in all kinds of conditions on lakes, and it casts better under windy conditions than any tapered or level FC line that I have cast, running from 8 Lb. test on up through 20 Lb. test lines test. It has been very windy here over the last 3 days, so I was able to cast the BRF tapered T-line that I made up under conditions similar to the conditions under which I have fished with the Rigs Floating T-line. And I would rate them comparable in their abilities to handle wind. They were both very fun and enjoyable to cast lines. However, the tapered line cast with a little more delicacy and fineness than the level line did, which I consider important because the tapered line also weighs more than the level line does. And it should handle more wind due to the greater mass of the tapered line.
LINE COLOR DIFFERENCES AND LINE VISIBILITY CONCERNS:
The Rigs Floating line is a very pale to almost white shade of green. RIO (who makes the BRF line for BRF) calls the color of their line Sage, which turns out to be a much darker light olive drab green in color. Rigs line is easy to see against the sky and stillwaters. The BRF line, while also easily visible, is not nearly as easy to see as the Rigs line is. For fishing in low light conditions, the Rigs line would have a decided advantage.
THE OTHER FLOATING T-LINE ALTERNATIVE AND MY FLOATING T-LINE CONCLUSIONS:
There is one other way to get a floating T-line at present: That's to buy a box of RIO's PowerFlex Core Shooting Line, which costs $39.95 and is designed to be used behind shooting heads on Western fly rods. For 2013 the RIO Shooting line has been "Improved", upping the pound test rating from 20 to 25 Lb. test, while retaining the same 0.024 inch very thin line diameter, which is pretty fine for a floating (light orange) shooting/running line to be. Heavier and sinking Shooting Lines are also available. So you get an additional 20 feet of level line over the 80 feet you get with the BRF Floating T-line with the RIO Shooting Line for the extra cost, but you still have to buy what it takes to make these lines up if you do not already have the necessary materials. But you can make up a number of lines from this single line purchase, fine tuning them to individual rods and fishing conditions as needed. With the Rigs Floating T-lines you have to go with either a 12 foot or a 15 foot line, so you can't customize your lines to the extent you can with the BRF and Rio lines. But you get a line you can fish almost right out of the package. Which line is worth the cost and which line will work out the best for you is up to you. Hopefully, this little piece will provide enough information for you to make an informed choice on this matter.