by Steven Neely


The legendary and incredibly popular RIO Versileaders have been a key component of RIO’s line systems for years. They are a vital part of any setup, and matching the right Versileaders with whichever line you are using will pay huge dividends when it comes to 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. 

RIO Versileaders (Not to be confused with RIO Versitips) are leaders of different sink rates that should be used in conjunction 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 made by the Salmon angler. The extra taper provided by a RIO 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.

Correct selection of Versileader.

A Versileader that is too light or short for a given line system will likely cause the anchor point to skip, and 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. In addition, Versileaders that are too light for a given system seem to lack the digging-in qualities of correctly sized ones, which will affect depth and fly speed. To ensure your system is fine-tuned to the maximum, RIO Versileaders are now available in two different Spey sizes. The RIO Medium Versileader is suitable for DH lines up to #8 and has replaced the Light Scandi Versileader, while the RIO Heavy Versileader has replaced the Spey Versileader and is suitable for DH lines rated #9 and higher. Both variants are available in a more concise range of densities, namely floating and sink rates of 1.5ips, 4ips and 6ips.

Why RIO Versileaders?

RIO’s 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. If correct sizing, accurate sink rating, colour-coding and neatly welded loops weren’t enough reasons to choose a RIO Versileader, then maybe superior strength and durability are.  I have never had a 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, with the Heavy version boasting 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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