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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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Sink Tips

I’ve seen this topic previously discussed. I’d be curious to see if there are any new opinions. I’m curious what brand of sink you might prefer for your water system. With all the different brand options, grain weights, lengths, and rod considerations it’s hard to know if you’re making the right choice. I hear a lot of good things about OPST commando heads, but honestly i find their stuff very confusing.

For my waters I’m fishing streamers on shorter switch rods using Skagit max short or Skagit scout shooting heads. I own a set of the light, medium, and heavy 10’ Rio MOW tips. I feel like this covers all my needs for all my rods. What do you guys prefer?

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 09:24 AM
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If it's working for you then stick with it. Myself, I don't use MOW tips. If I do use a skagit head it's part of a complete system. I have a S/A head/tips set that comes with float, intermediate, sink 3 and sink 6. I find they work well together and a mow would only bring a short amount of sink, 2.5,5,7.5 etc. This is really just a small amount of sinking material. Is it enough? That's up to you to determine.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 03:00 PM
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The short answer is that which brand of sink tips you use matters less than almost anything else, or any of your other gear. So I’m with eriefisher, if you are happy don’t change because there is virtually nothing you can do brandwise that will make any difference. They are just sections of perfectly level or nearly level line with densities greater than water, and the only thing that matters is their weight/density, diameter and length.

Yes there are some significantly tapered heavier “tips” that are designed to be used mostly on more delicately tapered heads, and you could try them on your skagit head. But in my experience they don’t really change much about the already clunky skagit experience, and just lower your fly carrying capacity.

If you really want to understand how things work, and debug things when they go wrong then you really should buy a $10 grain scale (available on places like amazon) if you don’t already have one. Nothing and no product will help better than this cheap gadget. Plus it can help ID tips and lines when you have lost track.

The above said there are a few thingS that are important, all of which are simple physical attributes, not “brand secrets”:

1. Matching a tip to a head - the grains/foot, aka “linear density” of the tips should be less than the grains/foot of the tip of your line. Preferably similar, but less as you make the transition. This is why there is a carrying capacity - heavier line tips can carry heavier tips. The labels on commercial tips are usually very accurate for linear density, and this is easy to check with your grain scale and a tape measure. The Rio T-stuff is even named according to the linear density with T-11 having a linear density of 11 grains/foot, and so on. Note the number does NOT refer to the sink rate directly, just the linear density.

2. Sink rates. Ugh! Sink rates depend only on the linear density (or alternately the total weight divided by the total length) and the diameter, and NOTHING else related to the tip. Yeah, the salinity/density of the water play a small role. Unfortunately here the labels of different companies DO vary wildly from company to company - and technically from reality as well. Apparently this has to do with the way the sink rates are determined and/or the rigor used in the process itself. From an engineering/physics point of view virtually EVERY company significantly overestimates the actual sink rates. As a quantitative person I suppose I should care, but I don’t. When I drive a stick shift I don’t worry about the precise gear ratios I just go up when I need to and down when I need to. Same with tips. But just something to remember when you switch brands - S8 from one company may not sink exactly the same as s8 from another.

There are exactly two minor issues with level sink tips I can think of that are brand-dependent.

1. What is the breaking strength of the core, is it what the companies says it is, and is it enough for the fish you are going after? Almost alway it is plenty, but occasionally even companies like Rio get things wrong in the construction process at first when they introduce a new product. This happened with their new model sink tips a few years back but was rapidly discovered and fixed.

2. How easy is it to weld loops in the particular material. This is only important if you want to build your own.

But if you want to try new things I’d recommend trying out the (super old) Rio replacement tips if you haven’t already. Probably similar to what was mentioned above. Again, they are just level sections of line that sink at different rates, but you can adjust the total weight/densities of the sets to match the line, AND the different sink rates have the SAME weight for a given set so if you find a sweet spot for a given line you will stay there when you switch tips. Very nice for more sophisticatedly tapered heads, but maybe not quite as relevant for a skagit head. But that is just my take so see for yourself. I still also use them on my lighter skagit heads 7wt on down.

The other thing you could play with are multidensity skagit heads rather than tips. The Airflo FIST head introduce several years back, for example, are super nice skagit heads and they really do ALTER the experience with tips, and are especially nice for places where there are not a ton of snags on the bottom.

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Last edited by Botsari; 12-17-2019 at 03:50 PM. Reason: Grammar
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 03:20 PM
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I agree with others that if you have a system that works both for casting and delivering the fly to fish then there's really no reason to adjust unless you're just looking to change things up for experimental sake.

I've been happy with the Airflo FLO tips. They have factory loops on both ends and the top end is 2' of intermediate so it tends to raise a bit easier at the end of the swing.I fish T7 (7 inch per second) and T10 (8 inch per second) in 12 foot lengths the vast majority of time on my home water. If the water is high I go with the T14 (9 inch per second). My experience with which rods work well for the various tips (assuming you're fishing with a skagit head):

5 weight: T7 only
6 weight: T7 and T10
7 weight: T7, T10 and T14
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 05:08 PM
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Very good advice above!

Buying an inexpensive digital scale was an enlightening moment for me. There is one of our popular skagit line companies that has wide variability for their sink tips. Another greatly underestimates their grain weight.

Find what works for your casting system and then learn how to adjust depth. A sage observation i was given couple years back from a rogue river guide “...no line system is sinking once under tension.” Simple concept, often overlooked

Enjoy the journey of discovery and experimentation
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 07:18 PM
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For off the shelf stuff I like the Commando tips and MOW tips. I make longer tips myself out of T material.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2019, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by plook View Post
Very good advice above!

Buying an inexpensive digital scale was an enlightening moment for me. There is one of our popular skagit line companies that has wide variability for their sink tips. Another greatly underestimates their grain weight.

Find what works for your casting system and then learn how to adjust depth. A sage observation i was given couple years back from a rogue river guide “...no line system is sinking once under tension.” Simple concept, often overlooked

Enjoy the journey of discovery and experimentation
It’s definitely a good thing to realize everything changes under tension, and various degrees of tension. But depending on the tension, which is due to the waters speed and angle relative to the tip, the sink tip will hang down under the water at a certain angle. Turns out under certain simplified assumptions (like the water speed is uniform all the way down, and the line is hanging down) you can even prove it is a straight line! So the depth is proportional to the sink rate and tip length and inverse to the water speed. So in this simplified sense it is exactly when the line is under tension where the sink RATE determines depth. Otherwise the depth is of course helped or held back from this “baseline” by all the tricks we use by controlling the angle and effective tension.

This has all been examined at some (possibly absurd given the context) length technically in a couple of actual engineering papers and explained online here:

Fly Fishing Research

It’s is unfortunate, maybe, that the traditional long-time-in-use characterization is given by the sink RATE. Right away that seems confusing to a lot of people. But by now the companies, and people who use the stuff, have many many decades experience through which to filter the info and any change would probably go over like New Coke. Maybe even New Coke that got sprayed by a skunk. The rigorous results which you can check out above mean that you could label the tips in a rigorous and consistent way across brands by simply using a formula based on the density and diameter, and the manufacturers could more or less get rid of their test tanks, but then all the official “sink rates” would change drastically overnight ... so New Coke!

Personally I wouldn’t mind if my heads were labeled, in addition to the total weight and length etc, with a weight per unit length at the end where you hook up a tip or leader. This would tell you a whole lot, almost everything, about what a line can do with respect to tips and fly carrying ability. I suspect that from the perspective of the manufacturers it is alway a delicate balance between giving the customers more information and just confusing them. Plus for a lot of us of a certain “type” it might also ruin some of the fun of trying lots of lines and having way too many of them.
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Last edited by Botsari; 12-17-2019 at 07:51 PM.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 08:21 AM
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I fish opst aka type tips mow's imow's and t material. I know it sounds like a lot but i bring a small specific batch for the season and don't change tips unless its really called for in the run. Like a local run i fish where the fish lie in the middle not on the wade line seem. They all have specific uses if your technique crazy (but have lots overlap and its not at all mandatory)
Mow's and imow's like 2.5/7.5 5/5 7.5/2.5 are shorter tips. Shorter tips sink faster and raise under tension faster. They should be used when you think the likely lie is out in middle not on wade line. ed ward under the river addict explains this in this thread under the name river addict
https://www.speypages.com/speyclave/...-my-own-2.html
even if you don't like imow's on the floater there good to have if you own intermid skagit head

Opst and t tips i use for searching and when i think the fish are on the wade line,, I use opst type tips when fishing a little deep i.e a type 3 or 6 aka 3 inches sink(S3) and 6 inches sink (S6)

Then bust out the full length t material when going deep.

I can explain OPST sink tip system as its based on the old type tips . type 3 or sink 3 ( S3) is sinking 3 inches per second. Where as t material number is its weight in grains I,E t 11 = 11 grains per foot and 7-8 seconds sink
The only difference is many opst tips a s2/s3 style. meaning half 2 inches sink and the other 3 inches. This just helps with connection and i just focus on the higher sink number to know what i want in regards to sink.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 01:27 PM
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Short tips do sink in less time (not exactly faster, i.e. at greater rate) because the sinking parts can be shortish and So don’t have as far to sink. So if your fly is speeding by the spot and know exactly what you need there, and don’t have the ability or desire to cast further above and give it more time, then go for one - short is a very precise and quick way to get into action. So (sometimes) is letting a precise amount of line slip. You may want in certain situation a short but fast sink rate tip to increase the angle of the presentation and avoid obstacles. But there are lots of other problems to be solved.

A MOW tip is just a variable length extension of the head with a variable length sinktip. The combo is a nice way to insure that you have the same weight for all your tips in a set where you toggle the depth by length rather than through density as is done by the Rio replacement tips. As many people have noted over the years, you can also toggle the length of the sinking material, and be dammed about the difference in total weight when using the blunt instrument that is a skagit head. I mean that in the positive sense that a blunt instrument can adapt to almost every situation. Different strokes for different folks.

The sink RATE (defined differently than the TIME it takes to get to the hang equilibrium point) is not effected by length, except the fluid mechanics does dictate that once the whole “line” gets really short (just a few inches) then the end effects determine the drag (and hence sink rate) as much as the drag of a long cylinder. Since the usual standard for measuring the sink rate is to drop a couple of inches of the tip material into a tall cylinder filled with water and timing the fall, this is one probable reason (as discussed in the references above) why when you measure the rates for actual sink tips (many feet, and a lot harder to do) they are usually significantly less than the labeled sink rates. But while quantitatively quite off they are proportional so perfectly usable unless you are a stickler. But the physics of the sinking portion of a MOW tip is of course the same as any sink tip.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Well you guys sure gave me some good things to think about, I appreciate all the information and tips. I had been trying to decipher this topic on my own, but I'm glad I called in the experts. Thanks again
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2019, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Botsari View Post
Short tips do sink in less time (not exactly faster, i.e. at greater rate) because the sinking parts can be shortish and So don’t have as far to sink. So if your fly is speeding by the spot and know exactly what you need there, and don’t have the ability or desire to cast further above and give it more time, then go for one - short is a very precise and quick way to get into action. So (sometimes) is letting a precise amount of line slip. You may want in certain situation a short but fast sink rate tip to increase the angle of the presentation and avoid obstacles. But there are lots of other problems to be solved.

A MOW tip is just a variable length extension of the head with a variable length sinktip. The combo is a nice way to insure that you have the same weight for all your tips in a set where you toggle the depth by length rather than through density as is done by the Rio replacement tips. As many people have noted over the years, you can also toggle the length of the sinking material, and be dammed about the difference in total weight when using the blunt instrument that is a skagit head. I mean that in the positive sense that a blunt instrument can adapt to almost every situation. Different strokes for different folks.

The sink RATE (defined differently than the TIME it takes to get to the hang equilibrium point) is not effected by length, except the fluid mechanics does dictate that once the whole “line” gets really short (just a few inches) then the end effects determine the drag (and hence sink rate) as much as the drag of a long cylinder. Since the usual standard for measuring the sink rate is to drop a couple of inches of the tip material into a tall cylinder filled with water and timing the fall, this is one probable reason (as discussed in the references above) why when you measure the rates for actual sink tips (many feet, and a lot harder to do) they are usually significantly less than the labeled sink rates. But while quantitatively quite off they are proportional so perfectly usable unless you are a stickler. But the physics of the sinking portion of a MOW tip is of course the same as any sink tip.


WOW ''Hear,hear!'' I truly thank you for the corrections and deeper explanations. Yeah ''sink faster'' was a very poor choice of words. I greatly admire your understanding. I guarantee a beginner will lurk/stumble on this thread one day. that's how found mr wards old posts (and whats left (if any) on the skagit master forums). This is the type of thread (with the old one) that could change ones understanding of tips.

''Fish on''

Last edited by HumberRskagit; 12-19-2019 at 09:27 AM.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-19-2019, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by HumberRskagit View Post
WOW ''Hear,hear!'' I truly thank you for the corrections and deeper explanations. Yeah ''sink faster'' was a very poor choice of words. I greatly admire your understanding. I guarantee a beginner will lurk/stumble on this thread one day. that's how found mr wards old posts (and whats left (if any) on the skagit master forums). This is the type of thread (with the old one) that could change ones understanding of tips.
I’m guessing the first lines that were designed to sink at different rates and that had sink rate ratings were for lakes where there is of course a lot more direct, less complicated connection to what is happening. So for example, you cast and depending on the spot start start counting to a specific number of seconds as the fly sinks before retrieving. On a recent Striper trip to the Sacramento delta our guide had it down to “this spot is 17”, etc.

While the actual sink rate and hence the depth the fly gets to might not be accurate, and I’m not all that sure my counting is all that good either, there is at least a theoretical depth that means something in stillwater.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-20-2019, 01:35 PM
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You can study sink rates until you're blue in the face, all the time asking yourself how much difference does one or two inches per second really make? 17 second dead drift before bring the fly under tension? Good luck with that! What is the maximum depth XXX sink tip is able to obtain before it reaches equilibrium? No one talks about carrying capacity, how large a fly will the tip turn over? How heavy a tip can the line turn over?

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-20-2019, 03:41 PM
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You can study sink rates until you're blue in the face, all the time asking yourself how much difference does one or two inches per second really make? 17 second dead drift before bring the fly under tension? Good luck with that! What is the maximum depth XXX sink tip is able to obtain before it reaches equilibrium? No one talks about carrying capacity, how large a fly will the tip turn over? How heavy a tip can the line turn over?
Well I just talked about it a little.

I figure in the end if I’m hypersensitive enough to want companies put a “gains per foot tip-end rating” on their lines to help judge carrying capacity then I’m probably fanatical enough to just measure it myself. Then if I was Speyducer I suppose I would post the tables here. Haven’t done so rigorously ... yet. Just guesstimation.

I can console myself - a very little - that at least I’m NOT the nerdiest fly fisherman out there. Some of the authors of the Fly Fishing Research webpage, that I know and have fished with, probably take that trophy.

I find the analytics interesting because of my background, and probably to an extent because of my hardwiring. It can sometimes be a foil for some incorrect or muddled concepts, e.g. things sink faster just because they are heavier, and so on. But I agree with you %100, it doesn’t contribute much to actual fishing. A day’s experience will probably trump a weeks worth of analytics.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 07:06 PM
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For off the shelf stuff I like the Commando tips and MOW tips. I make longer tips myself out of T material.
Where can you get T material? I've been unsuccessfully looking!

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