A SKAGIT HEAD IS VERY MUCH A COMPONENT; AT THE FRONT END, SKAGIT LINES ARE DESIGNED TO BE USED WITH A TIP BUT WHICH ONE IS CORRECT?
To say there are lots of tips available for Skagit would still be playing down the scale of choices. From RIO alone (and sorry for this), we list 112 Tips, 10 kits, plus some custom-cut coils. All of which match with some, but none with all, of the Skagit bodies. Here’s a run-through of the main options.
An exception to the Coated fly line rule, the very lightest Skagit Heads (they start at 225 grains / #2 Trout Spey) will only require Polyleaders /VersiLeaders. If you’re using Skagit on a two-handed rod rated #5 or above, we will head straight for the next option.
1.) Tapered Fly Line tips are a step more powerful than the universal Poly/VersiLeader – and the first Tips we’d usually consider teaming up with a Skagit. 10’ – 15’ long and individually sized (#8, #9, etc) these are capable, yet refined. Past Intermediate, they often feature ‘Density compensation’ to help maximize depth, whilst keeping a taper for smooth casting and presentation. Sink rates between 3 i.p.s. (inches per second) and 6 i.p.s are popular choices. Compared to Leaders, we can fish deeper and the extra weight in these Tips makes turning over bigger/heavier flies much easier. Often the nicest to cast, these are “polite” Skagit tips – ideal when the flow isn’t too heavy and there’s no urgent need to get the fly down fast.
2.) Developed for Skagit, the ever-growing family of MOW Tips offer so many choices. With lengths between 10’ – 15’, and densities from Floating and Intermediate through to Tungsten saturated Level T. These are a great option and definitely the place to look when getting the fly down fast is a goal. In between the shallow and deepest-fishing options, every MOW family includes tips that really help to reach depth fast and then hold your fly there. The back portion will be either floating or Intermediate, with faster densities at the front – normally tipped with ultra-fast sinking ‘Level T’ MOW tips will reach depth faster at the start of your cast – so are great for covering lies further out into the river. As the cast fishes round there is less difference and on the dangle, a 5’ Float/5’ Level T MOW tip may well be doing about the same job as a 10’ 3 i.p.s. Tapered Tip.
3.) Level T line is the fastest sinking line option of all. Sized in “Grains per foot of length” (so T11 = 11 grains per foot) and with no taper. Level T can either be bought as ready-made tips with neat factory loops on each end or as a longer coil of line to cut and make your own. Sticking with the suggested size of T for your Skagit, and keeping Tip length somewhere close to – but not more than a rod length, will keep everything working well. Longer may be possible, but if a rod length of Level T and a heavy fly is skating round, then it’s time to back away carefully and come back another day.
Matching the tips – size matters!
Size is the keyword with matching tips. Tapered Fly line tips, Level T tips, and MOW Tips all come in different sizes and it’s really important that you have the right size for your Skagit.
Our product charts will ensure you get a good match to your Skagit body. Caution if you own a few Skagit setups. It’s hard to judge some of these tips visually: Tungsten “T tips” look deceptively thin compared against a Skagit body so keep them in the wallet, use labels, and keep track of any marked sizes or colour coding to avoid problems.
Too long or more likely, too short a tip can cause casting problems – with anchors slipping and the line prone to misbehaving in flight, the above video helps you understand the importance of getting the correct tip length. You might see splashy landings and strange shapes on the water. Again, aiming to keep the Tip length close to – but not over your rod length should keep everything working well.