by Steven Neely


It would be no exaggeration to say that since its introduction 20 years ago, the RIO Midge Tip has been a fly line that the UK Stillwater angler couldn’t be without! This line has been a staple for anyone targeting trout from either boat or bank – really a godsend. It has many benefits but its real key is that, unlike a floating line, it allows much better control and presentation on those windy fishing days. Once introduced, it soon became apparent that it offered us amazing new possibilities that we’d have struggled to achieve with either floating or sinking lines. 

New RIO Premier Midge Tip

RIO never rests on its laurels and the team has been working hard behind the scenes to make the line even better – far better in fact. RIO has also added to the original line up, giving us anglers even more options for presenting our flies. The new series of RIO Midge Tip lines offers increased versatility when it comes to putting more trout in the net. The thinking behind the lines is to offer anglers more in the way of presentation styles. In addition to the original 3ft tip with a clear, sink tip section, sinking at 1.5-inches per second, there’s a new slower sinking tip. The Hover version sinks at just 1-inch per second.

Picture of the RIO Midge Tip fly line

RIO Midge Tip – Technical Features

These fly lines have been improved in each and every department. They feature RIO’s amazingly popular SlickCast Technology which is incredibly durable, giving the line a far longer lifespan. It also allows you to add extra line speed into the casting strokes, allowing increased energy to load into the rod. This energy allows the user to achieve far greater distances with very little effort. Hands up those of us that want more distance in our casts!

The lines are constructed on a Cold Water Core, so that even when it’s bitterly cold the line won’t want to kink and coil. It stays pretty much memory free. So no more time spent getting tangles out with freezing fingers. The lines also feature a dual coloration, yellow and beige, which is a huge help. You know exactly where the head of the line is in order to time the forward cast. This helps you achieve far better distance and accuracy. It massively increases the ability to deliver a longer, smoother and more direct cast.

Notable Improvements

The extra features just keep on coming with this new series. All of the Midge Tips are fitted with small, super-smooth hang markers. This is crucial with this style of line, from boat or bank, allowing us to time to perfection the ‘vertical lift’ that induces so many takes. Each line has an ID mark so you know exactly what line you are using or looking to swap to. So no more faffing about with home-made spool bands!

Finally, there are welded loops on either end of the lines, front and back, making spooling up or changing tippet a breeze. There are welded loops and then there are Rio welded loops. They are miniscule, not big and bulky like some, and they are smooth and seamless. This helps transfer the energy through the line and into the leader. Not all welded loops are built the same!

Standard RIO Midge Tip

For me this line really comes into its own during late Spring and early Summer. When the water temperature starts to creep up, so do the trout. They move up off the bottom to feed in midwater. The 3ft, clear RIO Midge Tip reigns supreme now. With tactical positioning of droppers, you can cover the water layers and search out the fish properly.

By using the RIO Midge Tip in this manner it allows you put your flies into position where any cruising fish, intercepting buzzers or daphnia, can see them. The trout will move through the layers towards the surface, as sunlight and or heat affect where the trout’s prey will be. When the trout do move up, simply swap the point fly for a Booby or a FAB. This allows you to still cover the top 4 to 6ft of water. Simplicity is often the solution to most fishing applications.

The line’s profile will pull the flies down, creating an enticing ‘U’ shape. Your top dropper will now be fishing the deepest and the point fly, your lure, will slowly descend too. Being a little bigger and brighter, the point fly will usually catch the trout’s attention and bring it in to investigate. Although it may not be the best fly for catching, it has the ability to draw the trout closer to your natural-looking offerings. And for that reason, this setup is a winner.

Details of RIO Midge Tip fly line

RIO Midge Tip Hover

Next up we have the new, slower sinking Midge Tip, the hover version. Oh, I do like this. I like it a lot! This version has a sinking section that’s based on Rio’s Hover lines, so it has a sink rate of 1-inch per second. Now, you may think, it’s half a second slower, what’s the big deal? Well, it adds a whole new dimension to things, especially for those anglers who love the challenge of bigger, over-wintered fish on reservoirs.

By late summer and into autumn the big trout are rarely very far away from the weed beds. Find the weeds, find the fish. The vegetation to be found in the relatively shallow areas of our Stillwaters harbour all manner of insect-y goodness. Presenting your nymphs just above this weed is crucial to success with better trout.

Hover Magic

Although a floating line can work on calm days, when there’s any wind it’s a nightmare. This is where this particular Midge Tip comes into its own. It beds your flies in but keeps them relatively high up in the water column, where the trout expect to see their food. It’s an amazingly effective line when it comes to nymphing, and the presentation of ‘foody looking’ flies like Hare’s Ears, Crunchers, and Diawl Bachs. A proper, nymph angler’s line!

I also favour this line when targeting the shallows at any time of the year, water between 4 and 8ft deep. The slower sink rate allows you to keep the flies up and off the lakebed. Achieving this requires a speedy, unnaturally fast retrieve when using the standard Midge Tip.

RIO Midge Tip fly line spools

Be in no doubt, RIO cracked it with the original Midge Tip. It’s a line that lake anglers the world over couldn’t be without. Now, with additions to the range and some incredible new features, they have taken Midge Tip development and performance to a whole new, stratospheric level.

In Part 2 we look at the new long version of this Stillwater classic and the differences when in use.

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