Author Topic: Tips  (Read 127 times)


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« Opened on January 14, 2018, 11:09:07 AM (Edited February 11, 2018, 11:29:00 AM) »
Skagit Sink Tips
A Discussion

The Skagit shooting head system is comprised of a head, running line, and tip. The three components attach to each other via loop-to-loop connections to form the completed Skagit line. If you are missing any one of these three line components, you do not have a complete Skagit line and your casting will suffer. It is fairly obvious why you need to have a shooting head and running line, however there often tends to be some confusion as to whether or not a tip is absolutely necessary. To put it simply for now, the tip is an integral part of the Skagit line, and to try to cast without one would be to try and cast with only two thirds of your line. So yes, you must have a tip.

How to select the appropriate sink tip for a Skagit line/head to load the rod properly can get confusing. Skagit lines are designed to throw sink tips and Scandi lines are designed to throw leaders. Because some sinking Poly/Versi leaders look like sink tips it is easy to confuse the two, even though they are much different. If you were to put a Poly/Versileader (even a heavy sinking) on a Skagit line the performance will be sub par. The reason is how the energy is transferred to the attached tip.
A tip is part of the line, a leader is attached to the line.

We will be discussing Sink Tips from Rio, AirFlo, OPST, and Scientific Angler below.

1. RIO Sink Tips

There are three different RIO sink tip systems.
   1.  The 10ft & 15ft tips or Type tips.
   2.  The T or Tungston  tips.
   3.  The Mow tips

First the 10ft & 15ft Type Tips from Rio.
The original fifteen foot tips come with a color coded welded loop that indicate the tips’ density (or in this case, sink rate) and the weight of the rod/line weight it should be used on. A RIO design feature is that the heaviest tip (Type 8 ) is the 10 wt at 150 grains is thinner than the lightest tip, (Type 3), but weighs the same 150 grams. thus explaining how the system works. Although Rio does not say this, for a given line wt The thinner line will sink faster because of less drag through the water because of less surface area to cause that drag.

These tips are tapered and allow for a much better presentation than their non-tapered tungsten relatives. This is called density compensation and this tends to allow the end of the tip fall slower than the thicker line BUTT end.  These tips have loops on both ends for easier change out and rigging.

 They come in the following:

Type Tips 10ft & 15ft with loop colors.
Intermediate (1.5 to 2 inches per second)

Type 3/Yellow (3 to 4 inches per second)

Type 6/Grey (6 to 7 inches per second)

Type 8/Green (8 to 9 inches per second)


To ensure consistency as a balanced outfit, each tip is given a standard weight (measured in grains) per weight class of rod.
For example, all #10 weight tips weigh 150 grains regardless of which of the above ‘types’ they are, so as to allow the angler the option of changing their tip density (depth) without losing the line weight necessary to load the rod efficiently. (#8 = 109 grains, #9 = 129 grains, #10 = 150 grains, #11 = 166 grains).

For shorter rods and/or tactical reasons the 10' tips can be used. 
A rule of thumb developed by experience is that the tip should not be longer than the rod. So if one has a 12' rod and a 15' tip then there is some trimming to do or other options to be discussed later after the Tungsten options.

RIO 15' InTouch Replacement Tips
These tips are 15 feet long, and have a steady front taper of about 3 feet, which allows for good presentation of a fly. Each tip has a color coded loop at the rear, and is printed with the tip size - attach the printed end to the fly line. The tips are built on RIO's ultra-low stretch ConnectCore for the maximum in sensitivity and performance, and are density compensated at the front end (not the intermediate) for the best fishing performance.

Density Compensation: The majority of modern fly lines feature a taper at the front end, which ensures that they cast smoothly and land on the water without too much impact. With sinking lines and sink tips, this taper creates a small problem; as the line gets thinner the amount of coating on it gets less.
The coating is what makes a fly line sink, so as the coating is reduced, the sink rate slows down. Usually this means a tapered sinking line sinks in a curve - with the thicker, heavier and denser body section sinking faster than the tip - not good for controlling the depth, and especially not good for detecting a take, or setting the hook. RIO's Density Compensation adds a more dense material to the thin tip, which ensures the line sinks straight - better for knowing when a fish takes the fly, and far better for setting the hook. All RIO's premium tapered sinking lines and sink tips are Density Compensated.

Easy ID Loops: Easy ID loops are neat, printed loops that show the size and type of the shooting head
Back Welded Loop: A neat, bullet-proof welded loop on the rear end for fast rigging
Front Welded Loop: A neat, bullet-proof welded loop on the front end for fast rigging
Total Length: 15'/4.6m
Body Length: 12'
There are five density options available:
Floating: (straw color, 7wt to 10wt)
Intermediate: 1.5-2 ips (gray color with gray loop, 6wt to 10wt)
Sink 3: 3-4 ips (brown color with yellow loop, 6wt to 10wt)
Sink 6: 6-7 ips (black color with gray loop, 6wt to 10wt)
Sink 8: 8-9 ips (black color with green loop, 8wt to 10wt)
Each tip has the following weight:

#6 - 84 grains
#7 - 95 grains
#8 - 109 grains
#9 - 129 grains
#10 - 150 grains

Rio InTouch 10ft Replacement Tips
These tips are 10ft long, and have a steady front taper of about 3ft, which allows for good presentation of a fly. Each tip has a color coded loop at the rear, and is printed with the tip size - attach the printed end to the fly line. The tips are built on RIO's ultra-low stretch ConnectCore for the maximum in sensitivity and performance, and are density compensated at the front end (not the intermediate) for the best fishing performance.

There are four density options available:

Floating: (straw color, 5wt to 9wt)
Intermediate: 1.5-2 ips (gray color with gray loop, 5wt to 9wt)
Sink 3: 3-4 ips (brown color with yellow loop, 5wt to 9wt)
Sink 6: 6-7 ips (black color with gray loop, 5wt to 9wt)

Each tip has the following weight:

#5 - 55 grains
#6 - 65 grains
#7 - 75 grains
#8 - 85 grains
#9 - 95 grains


Level T or Tungsten tips:
These tips are level (non-tapered), fast sinking, and designed to be cut to a desired length. Their lack of taper delivers them with a “punch” and large flies roll over without much effort from the caster.

Quite opposite to the density of the ‘Type’ tips above, these lines sink as per the amount of grain weight they have per foot. In the case of ’T’ tips, this equates to the amount of tungsten impregnated into each foot of the tip (for example, T8 weighs eight grains per foot).

T8/Dark Red (6 to 7 inches per second)

T11/Green (7 to 8 inches per second)

T14/Blue (8 to 9 inches per second)

T17/Grey (9 to 10 inches per second)

T20/Black (+10 inches per second)

The tungsten-powder coated tips come in all the expected sink rates (T-8, T-11, T-14 and T-17).  The tips come in 30 foot sections with front and back welded loops, to be cut in half and to length.   If you're really into sink tips, you can buy the new "T" lines in 500-foot spools, too, and cut tips to your desired lengths.
These fast sinking, level tips use tungsten powder for density, not lead and, as a result, are supple, do not kink and sink like a rock.
The tips are color-coded for quick identification and are made with an easy-to-weld coating
Each 30' tip is designed to be cut and tuned to the angler's individual fishing and requirements. Once your tip is cut to the length you want, it is up  to you to weld a loop on the end by using RIO'S LEVEL T WELDING TUBING or use a nail knot..  Youtube video for welding a loop (not for the faint of heart)

This does require nail knot tying of the tippet to the tip. It allows an angler to determine the best length and weight for their rod.  It allows for making different sizes. 
You may find some older Level T Tungsten tips color coded as:
T8/White (6 to 7 inches per second)
T11/Green (7 to 8 inches per second)
T14/Blue (8 to 9 inches per second)
T17/Black (9 to 10 inches per second)
T20/none (+10 inches per second)

Mow tips


How to Choose a RIO MOW Tip
In an attempt to make this simple, RIO categorizes their sink tips like this.  When purchasing tips you'll simply refer to the corresponding chart to the right. Notice that the Light, Med, Hvy, and X Hvy correspond the the Level Tungsten T Tips above.

Select MOW tip required to fit your Rod and your casting ability.

Determine whether your rod needs Light, Medium, Heavy, or Extra Heavy tips.

Light - These tips feature T-8 for a sinking section (with a sink rate of about 7” per second) and are most suitable for Skagit lines of 475 grains and less.

Medium - These tips feature T-11 for a sinking section (with a sink rate of about 8” per second) and are most suitable for Skagit lines between 475 and 575 grains.

Heavy- These tips feature T-14 for a sinking section (with a sink rate of about 9” per second) and are most suitable for Skagit heads of 575 grains and heavier.

Extra Heavy tips are ideal for Skagit lines heavier than 700 grains or for when large heavy flies are used.

Rod Weight   Sink Tip Needed
Grains per Inch
 2-6 weight rods    LIGHT MOW Tips       T-8
 5-7 weight rods    MEDIUM MOW Tips    T-11
 8-9 weight rods    HEAVY MOW Tips      T-14

The last of the MOW tips are the iMOW series. iMOW tips are designed with an intermediate back section as opposed to floating. This intermediate back section yields a more gradual depth transition of your fly when compared to the standard MOW tips, allowing your fly to swing deeper. See the image below for a visual on the difference between the MOW and iMOW tips.

The iMOW series are ideal for waters that have less obstacles and structure and less of a given sink tip is needed.

The grains of weight that the rod actually "throws" refers to the weight of line that is "in the air". If you are using a sustained anchored Skagit Head, the grains thrown would not include the tip, since little or none of it is "aerialized" to create the D-Loop during the formation of the cast prior to launch. Ditto for touch and go casting with the same setup, since the sink tip remains (mostly) part of the anchor until the forward cast takes it airborne.  Repeat, The Sink Tip Grain wt is not considered in determining the line wt.

These rules would also apply to Tungsten tips above.

As you can see from the above diagram MOW tips have loops on both ends and the longest is 12.5 feet.  What is there not to like.

Tip Length Calculator

2. AirFlo FLO Tips NEW for 2018 – 12′ FLO tips.

Designed for a smooth transition with dig. 2.5’ of intermediate material and 7.5’ (10′ Flo Tip) to 9.5′ (12′ Flo Tip) of T-sink smooths out the cast and keeps you in the zone longer. Looped at both ends for easy transitions.
The Airflo Skagit Flo Tips offer anglers a range of highly versatile sinking tips that combine a front intermediate section and a heavy tungsten sink tip for use on Skagit heads.

The intermediate section also helps when casting as it "digs in" better, preventing the anchor pulling out when you are forming your D loop.
Another good point about the transition from an intermediate to a tungsten sink tip is that it allows a much more even sink in the water and helps maintain better contact with your fly. Each Flo Tip features loops at each end to easily attach to your line and your leader. The intermediate looped end includes a colour coded band so you can easily identify the weight of the tip you are using.

The colour coding is as follows:
T-7 – white
T-10 - yellow
T-14 – brown
T-18 – black

Perfect for Skagit heads
Versatile sink tips
Intermediate transitions to a Tungsten tip
Smooths out your cast
Provides better fly presentation
Colour coded on intermediate loop.

Refer to:   
The T-sink guidelines for AirFlo are more robust than Rio’s.  The heaviest T-Sink level is determined as follows:.
( Skagit head wt / head length ) X .75 = Max T-Sink  wt.  An example would be
( 550 grains / 24’  ) X .75 = 17.1875   in this example T-Sink17 or below would be the maximum  to use with a 550 grain 24’ Skagit head.

Whats not to like.

3. OPST Commando Tips

BRAND NEW! OPST now offers Commando Tips, completing your Pure Skagit system from hook to reel. It's a fact that not every hole calls for the fastest, heaviest sink tip. Riffles and shallower runs are extremely important too, especially in high water. In such conditions a shallower, yet still level, sink is the way to go. Commando Tips will make you a more complete angler by allowing you to choose, within a grain weight, from between three different sink rates: Riffle, Run and Bucket, for shallow, medium and deep water. OPST tips are 12 feet long to enhance water load and prevent blown anchors, and come with strong welded loops at both ends for easy rigging. The rear ends come with color-coded line IDs to identify both grain weight and sink rate. 96 Grains are looped with Yellow, 132 grains with Light Blue, and 168 Grains are Tan. Within those three grain weights are the three sink rates (Riffle, Run, and Bucket) for each weight. See the image below.

Those familiar with MOW tips will be able to choose from three different grain weights: 96 grain, 132 grain and 168 grain, (T8, T11 and T14 grains per foot) for use on 2 weight switch rods up to 9 weight two handers.

You will notice that the designations are S2/3, S5/6, etc- meaning the back half of the line is a Type 2 (2 inches per second), and the front half is a Type 3 (3 inches per second). This produces a straighter sink to the fly and reduces the belly effect that occurs in level sink tips. Here are the specifications:

Whats not to like.

4. Scientific Anglers Spey Sink Tips
When you’re swinging a fly for salmon or steelhead using a two-handed rod, controlling the depth and speed of the fly is paramount. That’s why we created the Third Coast Textured Spey Tips. The TC Tip system is a revolutionary approach to Spey tips, as they’re the industry’s first truly tapered, fully textured, double-density sinking tips. Available in a multitude of densities to get the fly just where you need it.

The world’s first tapered, textured multi-density Spey tips
Shooting Texturing reduces friction, allowing for easier pick-ups of sinking tips
Tapered design aids in turning over flies at any distance
Sink Rates:
Int./Sink 2 = 1.25/2.0 ips
Sink 2/Sink 4 = 2.0/4.0 ips
Sink 3/Sink 5 = 3.0/5.0 ips
Sink 7 = 7.0 ips
Available in 8′ 80 grains, 10’ 120 grains, 12’ 160 grains, and 15′ 200 grains
Full selections available as kits
Suited for two-hand and switch rods

All the Choices; What's Not to Like

With all the options, what is one to do.
When determining the appropriate sink tip and weighted fly ( assuming the angler can cast a tight loop to the desired point on the river ) there are few variables which the angler can control and those are the correct weight for the fly and the appropriate sink rate of the sink tip.

For most fishing conditions, the primary concern is the fly being weighted properly. It must get down into the fish’s area of awareness and achieve the proper motion to entice a take. The task of a sink tip and weighted fly is to get your fly into that strike zone quickly and keep it there.
It just makes sense to keep gravity on your side rather than fight it.

An angler must determine the Water Velocity, the Structure and the Hangdown Depth and then select the sink tip and leader/tippet to compliment the weight of the fly.
It’s easy to get carried away with the thought that a heavier line is always better. The problems with a line that’s too heavy can snowball quickly. Loss of presentation quality, poor castability, and snagging the bottom are all common symptoms of fishing too heavy.

Of course it’s possible to fish a line that is too light. It’s less of a problem in most scenarios, due to the fact that there are more practical ways to get a fly deep. Such as adding heavier tip to your rig, changing to a heavier fly, or by changing your presentation.

It is hoped that the following excerpts will help clarify sink tip selection.
From the Baltic Fly Fisher and Fly Fishers Research on Skagit Head Weights in relation to Sink Tip grain weights. This is a quote:
 "In the world of Skagit, head weight has everything to do with sink-tip weight; you need mass to move mass. Heavy sink tips require heavy Skagit heads to cast them … ideally by about a 2:1 ratio.  For example, couple a 400 grain head with any sink-tip up to 200 grains; match a 450 grain  head with any sink tip up to 225 grains; a 550 grain head with any tip up to 275 grains; the 650 head with tips up to 325 grains; and the 800 grain head for long heavy anchor chains." End of quote.

This 2:1 ratio may sound a little extreme, but there is a relationship where the ability to cast tips is proportional to the head grain weight and inversely proportional to the head length.

The AirFlo formula to determine max T weight (Head weight / Head length) x 0.75 = Max allowable T weight. As in T-8, T-11, T-14, T-17, T-18 etc..    According to this formula a 540 gn head weight of 20' could swing 13' of T-20 or 15' of T-17.

If you increase the head length to 23 feet and keep the head weight the same the max T will be T-17..  T-20 would not be appropriate. Lesser T weights are allowable and would be recommended for different conditions, this was only calculating the Max T.

What about sink tip length
Sink-tip length is all about personal preference and casting style.  A taller fly angler will cast differently to a shorter angler; the taller person might have a longer casting stroke, which means they can cope with longer sink-tips e.g 12ft to 15ft.  Whereas the shorter caster will probably prefer shorter sink-tips say in for example 10ft to 12ft range.  Casting style will also effect the length of your sink-tips; a relaxed long stroke style is good for longer tips, and a compact aggressive style is better for shorter tips.  And of course, a longer 15ft rod will potentially handle much longer tips than a 12ft rod.
Personal preference comes to mind.

Conditions determine the optimal sink tip length and weight:

It goes without saying, conditions are important and the two most important conditions are water velocity and the holding depth. The following is a calculator to determine the line length for a given Water Velocity and Desired Hangdown Depth. Give it a try, you might be surprised. For a given speed of current flow, which sinking line or sink tip should we use? How long should it be?

Sinking line specifications currently provided by manufacturers (overall grain weight and sink rate are determined in still water) are, by themselves, poor predictors of fly depth. In moving water, other factors such as line diameter, grain weight, and water velocity are extremely important. The following sink tip calculator takes those factors into consideration.

It all starts with the fly.   Build the line to jack the fly.

Sink Tip Calculator

A tip is part of the line, a leader is attached to the line.

Choosing Proper Sink-Tip Skagit Casting by Ed Ward on the Skagitmaster Blog
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 07:05:14 AM »

   The inclusion of the tip in Skagit line length formulas is necessary to provide a basis from which to establish system guidelines. For instance, in Skagit casting, a major guideline is that a ratio of 3 1/2 times rod line length is not exceeded and it has to do with a few factors, the first being "casting ergonomics". It is around 3 1/2 times rod length that the movements needed to conduct the line Pickup process start to take the caster's hands far outside of the "box". Once the hands/arms get too far out of the box for line Pickup movements, it is almost impossible to get them back into the box for conducting a "proper", in-the-box, Sweep-Turnover-Forward-Casting-Stroke sequence.

Factor two has to do with the line system being short enough so that ALL of the line can be put into a status of motion during the Sweep, while remaining in-the-box. Take note of the fact, that if you watch the fly during the Sweep-Turnover sequence, during the most efficient, energized casts (assuming ALL steps are being performed correctly), the fly will "pirouette" or pivot around in the water until it faces directly towards where the D-loop is being formed ( 180 degree rule), even though the fly, leader and portion of tip remain in/under the water... the whole line system is in a dynamic state all the way down to the fly. If the fly does not pirouette during the Sweep-Turnover sequence, the fly will not lift out of the water efficiently on the Forward Cast, the cast will not feel smooth, line speed will be significantly reduced and casting accuracy and/or precision will be sub-standard.
This entire-line-is-dynamic-during-the-Sweep mechanism becomes difficult to produce when line lengths go beyond 3 1/2 times rod length unless one breaks the arms/hands out of the box.

Lastly, we strive to do all this while remaining in-the-box during the Sweep-Turnover-Forward Cast sequence, because staying-in-the-box is crucial to producing casting energy via Angular Momentum. One way to illustrate the effects of Angular Momentum is the swinging/twirling around of a ball on the end of a string... as long as that twirling is conducted by "locking" the arm in a fixed position and using only the wrist to do the "twirling" (= fixed pivot point), the degree of centrifugal effects onto the ball are maximized. However, if the arm is "loose" and "wobbles" off of that fixed point while swinging/rotating the ball, the centrifugal effects are drastically reduced. I hope that makes sense!?

   Keep in mind here that Skagit Casting is the newest of the Spey-type casting methods. Therefore, even though the foundational aspects of the casting style are pretty much proven, some of the "detail" aspects are still a bit "liquid". The 3 1/2 times "rule" was set forth as the MAXIMUM line length, one that I personally would use only in a "maximum distance, smaller flies, lighter tips" capacity. For general purpose, all-around, greatest degree of ease in casting, I have found around a 2.75 ratio to be very accomodating. For tight-quarters casting, the casting of large flies/heavy tips, or maximizing strip-retrieve fishing of streamers, a ratio of around 2.25 works great. The general effects of line length are: longer for distance, but lighter "payloads" and more casting room required; shorter for bigger payloads, tighter casting quarters, but less distance capability.

   Lastly, even though most of the line is placed onto the water during the Set phase of Skagit casting procedure, during the Sweep the majority of that line is in fact then projected into the D-loop, regardless of whether it is of floating or sinking (sinktip) designation. In the nano-second just prior to the Forward Cast, only a minor/very small portion of the entire line system remains tethered/anchored to the water's surface, once again regardless of whether it is sinking or floating. The sinking portion of any sink-type line WILL create more "stick" than a floater, but this extra stick occurs during the "ripping-line-off-the-water-during-the-Sweep" phase and NOT after the D-loop has formed. Therefore, sinktips do become part of the D-loop (unless, perhaps it's REALLY short such as a 2.5' MOW) and consequently, entire sinking lines can be cast via Skagit casting principles... it's just a matter of using an appropriate weight of line.                     
« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 08:43:15 AM by riveraddict


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Tips Half Out and Go (Plus or Minus)
« Reply #1 on February 03, 2018, 05:32:03 PM »
Half Out and Go
Fly Fishers Research

Casting a Skagit head with a sink tip is simple, but different from casting a floating line.  The "Half Out and Go" method we describe below is easy and effective. Though it works for all sink tips, "Half Out and Go" is especially advantageous for the longer and heavier sink tips that are more difficult to cast with the traditional "splash and go" approaches.  Try it and judge for yourself. Regardless of which sink tip you are use, a Skagit head floating line will likely make it easier to cast.

1. Place the anchor.  Perform any Spey cast's initial moves so as to place the sink tip at the spot from which you wish to anchor your D-loop (typically several feet in front of you, outside the top-hand shoulder). For instance, the first part of a Snap-T or Double Spey does this well.  If you didn't put the anchor in exactly the right place, no problem. Just use a "Perry Poke" to put it there.

2. Pause.  Once the anchor is placed, pause before making the D-loop.  This allows the sink tip to sink, forming a "sunken anchor."  (The sunken "more sticky" anchor is a big part of what makes casting a sink tip on a Skagit head so easy.) For most sink tips, the pause should be one to three seconds; the lighter the sink tip, the longer the pause.  Snap T and Double Spey casts facilitate this pause.  One-continuous-motion Spey casts like the Single Spey, Switch Cast, and Snake Roll do not.

3. Make the D-loop.  Use enough back cast energy to load the rod, but not so much as to pull the anchor out of the water.  The amount of energy going into the back cast is important.  Too much will "pull out the anchor", which prematurely unloads the rod.  Too little will leave the entire sink tip underwater, resulting in a "stuck anchor."

4. Half Out and Go. On floating-line Spey casts, Simon Gawesworth teaches "Splash and Go."  Our analogy for sink tips is "Half Out and Go."  That is, "go" on the forward cast when the sink tip is half out of the water due to the momentum of the back cast.  To know when this is, you must watch your anchor, at least out of the corner of your eye, as your D-loop forms.  If you "go" too early -- before the sink tip is half out -- the anchor will stick too much, impeding the momentum of the forward cast. If you "go" too late, the sink tip will have pulled out, making it impossible to fully load the rod.  So, watch your sink tip as the backward momentum of the D-loop begins to pull it out of the water. Half out and go.

With this technique, the forward cast explodes with energy and momentum.  It works extremely well with fast-, medium-, and slow-action rods.  Slow-action rods, however, tend to be best.  They are more forgiving in terms of timing, at least equal in distance, and better for fishing.

Half Out and Go does not require a great deal of talent or sophistication on the part of the caster.  Beginners learn it easily, and experienced Spey casters even more so.

Half Out and Go  "Go" on the forward cast when the sink tip is half out of the water due to the momentum of the back cast.


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Estimating Water Velocity
« Reply #2 on February 04, 2018, 11:06:51 AM (Edited February 04, 2018, 11:10:54 AM) »
Estimating Water Velocity
Fly fishers Research

When putting rule numbers to use (see fly depth formula, fly depth calculator, sink tip length formula, sink tip length calculator), it's best to make a rough estimate of water velocity.  While 3 mph is the speed of a brisk walk, much good steelhead water is slower.  Some is faster.  In addition, there is a natural tendency while wading to overestimate water velocity, which could lead to overestimating the amount of sink tip needed.  Overall, it's better to make a quick, simple measurement before applying these formulas.

The table below makes measurement easy -- especially easy if you are wading and using a Spey rod.  Mark your rod (e.g. with a small piece of tape) at point that is 13 ft 2.5 inches from the tip.  For most Spey rods, this point will be well down the rod near your hands.  Hold your rod out from your body far enough that the water disturbance from your body is not affecting the current, and point it directly downstream.  Now pick out a bubble, leaf, insect, or other oddment floating by and measure by stopwatch the time it takes to go 13 ft 2.5 inches.  That's it: read the water velocity from the table.  For example, if it takes 4.5 seconds for a leaf to move this distance, then water velocity is 2 mph.  Also notice, for ease of memory, that 3 seconds equals 3 mph.

Tip: For unusually clean water conditions (nothing floating downstream), carry a few twigs in your pocket and drop one in as needed.

Fly depth results depend not only on surface water velocity (as discussed above), but on subsurface velocities as well.  Under typical river flow conditions, water velocity is fastest just under the surface and much slower near the bottom -- especially when boulders or other obstructions are in the streambed.  It is often better to assume that the average water velocity over the entire water column is slower than the velocity measured at the surface.


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« Reply #3 on February 11, 2018, 11:45:15 AM »
From Skagit master

When faced with such a scenario, I generally fish a fairly heavy fly on a "not so heavy" tip with a long leader.   When using this concept, I take tension off the fly with a big mend immediately after casting.  This allows the fly to instantly dive to the depths falling unhindered from your sink tip (even up to 12-15ft).  Once the line starts to tighten and tension comes on the fly, it will slowly begin to raise in the water column.  The fly should continue to raise and allow your fly to swing thru the entirety of your swing.

Note:  it will take some playing around to find that perfect fly weight / tip weight combo for each pool.  Leader length is important also.  Too short and your fly won't fall deep enough.  Too long and you may get too deep on the fall (and it's a bitch to cast).  With some trial and error you should be able to fine-tune the right combo that allows your fly to sink into those deep tanks and raise in the water column at just the perfect rate where your fly stays sunk thru the "fishy" water but lifts enough that you don't hang as your fly swings to its hang-down.

I had some scenarios and water situations exactly like what you are speaking of when I spent my winters on the Skeena.  Both a friend and I found ourselves fishing a clear intermediate tip with heavy intruders on a long leader a lot.  We both got to know the pools intimately.  We knew exactly the perfect tip, leader length, fly weight combos that allowed us to fish each run perfectly.

Another from Skagit Master

Good question - let me start by saying that there are certainly scenarios were a heavily weighted fly fished on a floating line with a long leader is sufficient.  This could be the case in moderate depth water that is extremely slow.  There were a couple tailouts to the tanks I spoke of above that I fished exactly this system.  But, when responding to the original question, I envisioned water that had enough speed and depth to require a light tip as well.  It doesn't take much current to raise even a large lead eyed fly high into the water column if fished on a floating line.  The heavy fly/long leader/sink tip system lets us benefit from the best of both worlds.  The fly is able to sink unhindered from the tip an thus immediately fall to the desired depth before the fly begins to swing.  Using the tip of your rod to control tension on the line, it is possible to keep the fly deep for a portion of the swing.  But at some point, tension will come on the fly and that is when it will start to raise in the water column.  This is where the tip comes into play.  Different weight tips then control how much lift you ultimately get.  In most scenarios that I envisioned KJ was asking about, a light tip of some sort does the trick.  Like I said in my last post, to truly dial the system in for each pool, it will take a little fine tuning. 

To simplify my method of fine tuning, let me set-up a fairly slow sample pool that is 10 ft deep that gradually slopes up to 3 ft deep where I am standing.   This is a scenario that would present the kind of "hang-up" issues KJ wrote of.  I would probably start my surveying by fishing a 4ft integrated tip with a large lead eyed fly on a long 10-12 ft leader.  First, I want to find a fly weight/leader length combo that allows me to get close to the bottom (without hanging) before my fly starts to swing.  Once I find find that magic combination, I then start fine tuning my tip.  I obviously want a tip that lets my bug swing thru the entirety of its swing without touching bottom.  Being as anal as I am, I usually keep increasing the length/weight of my tip until I find bottom at some point thru my swing.  Then, once I know I have found the tip that is just a bit too heavy, it is easy to lighten up a notch and feel confident I'm down at max depth. Two points: 1) this is a simplified scenario for example purposes 2) as an angler gets accustomed to approaching these deep slow water tanks, you get a real sense for the perfect combo without a lot of trial and error (it is not as cumbersome as my example may lead one to believe).   

Let me end by saying, I also use this same concept with heavy tips to get down fast and stay down in deep fast slots.

In short , the heavy fly/long leader/tip system lets you get deep immediately and stay at your desired depth thru the swing.