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By Louis Cahill

The RIO Intouch Scandi 3D is an awesome tool for catching steelhead and other species.

On a recent trip to the Deschutes River for steelhead, we faced some challenging conditions. The weather was unstable, making for some windy afternoons and some cranky fish. Sink tips and tube flies were not producing. The dry line bite was better with small traditional flies, but not when the sun was on the water, and casting light dry lines in the wind was a challenge. It was a puzzle, but things turned around when my buddy Barrett Ames produced a six-weight rod with a RIO Intouch Scandi 3D.

The setup was perfect and proved to be not only a pleasure to cast, but a real producer. The clever design of this head changed a handful of variables, which made fishing easier and more effective. I had heard about these heads, but I didn’t understand how powerful they are until I put one to work. 

The Scandi 3D is a triple density shooting head. There are three options. The one I fished was the Hover / Intermediate / Sink 3 or H/I/S3. This means that the 34-foot head is broken down into three main integrated sections. About the first half of the head, the end attached to your running line, is a slow sinking intermediate called hover. It sinks at about 1 inch per second, or 1”ps. It also has sufficient diameter and stiffness to offer excellent line control during casting. The second section is an intermediate line with a sink rate of 2”ps, and the third is sink 3 material with a sink rate of 3”ps. One of the key qualities that makes the line awesome is that it transitions gradually from one density to the next, rather than making an abrupt change. This means there are no hinge points during casting or swinging.

The basic idea behind the Scandi 3D is that it casts like a scandi but fishes deep like a skagit. RIO has very effectively accomplished that goal, but there are some other big advantages to this head that may not be readily apparent. The Scandi 3D has been available, and wildly popular in Europe for some time but has just become available for US anglers. I expect it will catch on here very quickly.

5 Reasons The RIO Intouch Scandi 3D is Awesome.

Easy casting. 

The Scandi 3D is far easier to cast than a skagit line and tip that would fish the same depth. Because the transition in materials is gradual, the line does not need the bulky taper of a skagit to heft a heavy sink tip out of the water and has zero hinge points. Casting is smooth and effortless and because the materials become denser as they progress to the tip, turnover is excellent. I’m no competition spey caster but I found myself shooting 21 full strips of running line with no problem. That’s over a 100 cast feet on a windy day!

Wind cutting.

The graduated density of the head helps it turn over in wind. The finer and denser material toward the tip is simply not effected by wind in the way a floating line would be.

Clean Swing.

Because the whole head sinks, the line is not affected by surface currents and swings straight and clean, which means more control. Long casts are sexy, but great swings catch fish. This line is super easy to control and swings slow and straight, even in complex currents.

Red sighter.

The red sighter at the running line end of the head makes it easy to see how the head is swinging. Even when there is glare on the water this bright sighter keeps you confident and in control.

Better hookups.

Because the head sinks in a smooth line to the fly, you are connected to the fish in a straight line. That means there is no slack to take up when the fish eats. Combined with low stretch core, this makes a positive connection and better hookups. In the couple of days before I started fishing the Scandi 3D, I had rubber hook syndrome. I lost a handful of fish, and when opportunities are slim, that hurts. My landing ratio was much better with the Scandi 3D.


The Scandi 3D was designed for Atlantic salmon anglers, and is apparently stellar for that application. Atlantics are above my pay grade, but as an avid steelheader, I can say with confidence that it’s a great tool for steelhead. A friend even uses the sink 5 version for chinook salmon and loves it, so I imagine it would also be a good choice for winter steelhead. I can see a lot of potential for the lighter 390 gr lines at the heavy end of the trout spey game. I am told we can expect even lighter, trout-specific models in the future.


The Intouch Scandi 3D is available from 390 gr to 700 gr. That’s roughly 5-11 weight, though the sink 5 version is only available 440 gr to 700 gr. See below for weight ranges and sink rates.

F/H/I 390-700  5/6-11  float-1”ps-2”ps

H/I/S3 390-700 5/6-11  1”ps-2”ps-3”ps

I/S3/S5 440-700 6/7-11  2”ps-3”ps-5”ps

Whether you are fishing for trout, steelhead, or salmon, I encourage you to give the Scandi 3D a try. This versatile head won me over immediately and I think it will change the way I fish, especially for steelhead. Not just because it’s easier to cast, but because it catches more fish. You can’t argue with that!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “RIO INTOUCH SCANDI 3D: Review

  1. If I bought one of everything that you fishing writers say that I need to succeed, I’d have to also buy a tractor trailer to haul it all in, and would spend so much time worrying about what gear I should be using that I’d likely have a miserable time fishing, even if I did catch a fish or two. Funny, I am very successful using a basic Cabela’s fly rod, a basic weight forward floating line, long leader and split shot. I catch a lot of fish, and don’t have to worry about what gear to use for what conditions are like. I save a ton of $$, too.

    • Keith,
      That’s the beauty of living in the U.S.A. and being a part of fly fishing, you have the freedom to chose exactly what gear you do and don’t use. If it works for you and you’re having fun, more power to you. Thank you for chiming in and sharing your thoughts. Have a great day.

  2. Good article, and thanks for doing these reviews. This line was designed for people who love casting Scandi lines, and don’t want to fish Skagit lines when conditions require this. The joy of casting Scandi – line speed and tight loops is the polar opposite of split shot. This is said by a guy who fishing mostly Skagit. Tight Lines with Peace and Love.

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