Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Technique Tuesday: Sink-Tips

C-squad, loading.

Spending as much time as I have shirking responsibility fishing over the last 15 years, I end up getting a lot of questions about what gear to purchase.  This past week I had two different friends as about what sink tips they should get for their spey rod, so figured it would be a great topic for Technique Tuesday.  The type of tip you are using can make a huge impact on your fishing, and with all of the different options that are out there these days it can be really confusing which tip to use.  For a frame of reference, these are the sink tips that I use for steelhead fishing with a skagit line, for both winter and summer fish.

Like most, I don't want to spend $ on a bunch of different lines that I don't need.  Because of this I have simplified my sinktip selection to a kit that will cost around $150 and cover just about every situation you would likely encounter.  The key to being able to use such few tips is adjusting your presentation based on the water youre fishing, which I will cover in future technique Tuesdays.

15 ft. RIO Spey Versileader Kit

The RIO Spey Versileader Kit is my go to set of tips for summer run fishing once the water cools down.  At 15' and a variety of sink rates from floating to extra fast (7"/second) these tips make it very simple for fall fishing options.  As polyleaders and not true sink tips they have a taper and thinner core than a sink tip, but will turn over any fly that you should be throwing for summer runs.  Attached to a Compact Skagit line and they are very comfortable to cast and easy to use.  I also like the 15' foot length for two reasons.  The first being that I am tall, and it is much nicer to fish 15' foot tips and have a little extra anchor hanging in there then a sink tip that I have to be careful not to pop out of the water.  The second reason being the "grab" that a 15' tip has in the water.  Once you get a 15' tip sunk it tends to stay down and swing consistently at that depth.  Most of the summer run rivers that I fish have big, classic runs and not as much pocket water.  A 15' tip is perfect length for getting down and staying down in a long swing with less depth variation than a pocketwater run.

14 ft. Airflo CCT T-10 Sink Tip

This is my go-to winter sink tip.  The package comes with 20' of sinktip so you get 6' extra after you make your 14' tip, which is a good small tip when combined with a cheater and a heavy fly for pocket water that many winter run rivers have.  The Airflo tips are my choice because they come with a welded loop built in, so they are very easy to use, and they have a very strong core.  I have yet to lose one in the rocks.  Like the 15' tips mentioned above, I like a 14' tip because it stays down in wide runs and is easy to cast as a tall guy. In a shallower run I will use this tip with an unweighted fly and when more depth is needed I will throw on something with a cone.  This combination has worked flawlessly for me, and I would say the last 5 or so winter fish I have caught came on this tip with a conehead fly.

14 ft. Airflo CCT T-14 Sink Tip

When I really need to get down this is what I have on the end of the string.  When combined with a weighted fly this is as heavy as I go during the winter.  If I need to get down really deep I will simply adjust where I cast and how I present (upstream cast, big mend, step during swing) and get it down as deep as needed.  I am also a big believer in tying flies that sink.  Using materials that are not bulky and get to the bottom quickly allow for much better all-day casting.  Who wants to throw 15' of t-18 anyways?  At that point i'll just get out the bobber rod.
The end result of a properly selected sink tip.

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