by Steven Neely


The legendary and incredibly popular RIO Spey Versileaders have been a key component of RIO’s line systems for years. They are a vital part of any set up. So matching the right Versileaders with whichever line you use will pay huge dividends regarding ease of casting, presentation and fishing your fly at the required depth. RIO has now introduced two new and improved versions to take over from the previous Scandi and Spey categories. 

A Guide To  RIO Versileaders 

RIO Spey Versileaders (not to be confused with Versitips) are leaders of different sink rates which we use with Spey lines and Shooting heads. They allow users to adjust their fishing depth quickly and assist with presentation, control of fly speed and casting performance. Versileaders form an essential part of any balanced Salmon line system. Most fly lines require extra taper, especially Shooting heads and Spey lines. Overlooking this fact is one of the biggest mistakes salmon anglers can make.

The extra taper provided by a Versileader will smooth out turnover and massively increase presentation compared to a level leader. The extra length provided to the line system combined with the sinking characteristics of Versileaders can also provide a more positive anchor point. This is useful for long-range casting with high-tensioned D-Loops.

Selecting the Correct RIO Versileader

A Versileader that is too light or short for a given line system will likely cause the anchor point to skip. It is also likely that turnover will be too fast, thus affecting good presentation. Conversely, a Versileader that is too heavy may struggle to turn over. I also find Versileaders that are too light for a line tend to lack the digging-in qualities of correctly sized ones, which will affect depth and fly speed.

To make sure your line systems are fine-tuned to the maximum, RIO Spey Versileaders are now available in two different sizes. The RIO Medium Versileader is suitable for DH lines up to #8 and has replaced the Light Scandi Versileader. The RIO Heavy Versileader is for use with DH lines rated #9 and higher and has replaced the Spey Versileader. Both variants are available in a more concise range of densities – floating and sink rates of 1.5ips, 4ips and 6ips.

Why RIO Versileaders?

RIO’s Spey Versileaders have been market leaders for years now, and they’ve just got even better.  They have improved tapers, are lighter and are easier to cast.  A new clear floating option has also been added. Correct sizing, accurate sink rates, colour-coding and neatly welded loops all add to their ease of use. RIO Versileaders also boast superior strength and durability. 

I have never had a RIO Versileader fail me, and I have been using them for years in all sorts of conditions and scenarios. Compared to other brands, from a visual and feel standpoint, they are more robust. For example the Heavy version boast a breaking strain of 25lb. At the end of the day, this is the part of our gear, that after all the vice time, miles covered and money spent, provides a vital link between you and that hard-earned silver …  So why mess about? 


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