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I'm sure I'll get a ton of opinions on this. However, when does everybody switch from floating to intermediate or full sink tips? What's the biggest deciding factor that influences your decision? I've heard it has to a lot to do with water temp. For me it's always been the type of current i've been fishing and depth.
 

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RE: Steelhead

Water temp, time of year and river I'm fishing.

Once river temps get to 50 in June, I usually switch over and won't switch back until late fall/early winter. One exception would be on the Kispiox where I never had much success with a floater and so always fished it with a tip.
 

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I will often switch to a sink tip in the fall during the middle of the day in bright sun. My main fishery is the Klamath and I use a floater early and late but mid day you often need to swing deeper.

For winter I am almost always on a tip and this typically relates to water temp as others have suggested
 

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I'm sure I'll get a ton of opinions on this. However, when does everybody switch from floating to intermediate or full sink tips? What's the biggest deciding factor that influences your decision? I've heard it has to a lot to do with water temp. For me it's always been the type of current i've been fishing and depth.
water depth, clarity and water temp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
At about what water temp does everybody switch over to a sink tip? For some reason 41 degrees is stuck into my head. Thanks for the replies so far. Very good comparison info.
 

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I don't carry a thermometer so for me it is usually a seasonal thing. Late fall through late spring or following the first heavy floods late in the year it is most often sink-tips due to increased flows. There are some spots that hold fish in high water and are best covered with a floating or intermediate-tip where anything else would hang-up every cast.
 

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At 50 degrees or higher one can expect a floating line to be just as effective as a sink tip. Therefore when the water temp is over 50 I refuse to fish a sink tip. If the water is dirty i prefer to just go home. A sink tip caught fish in warm water does absolutely nothing for me.

One can expect to have a reasonable amount of success with a floating line down to about 45 -46 degrees

Below 45 a sink tip can be expected to far out produce a floating line in most instances.

one thing in many cases a floating line with a weighted fly or a heavily designed fly can be as productive as a sink tip in cold water but less so as turbidity increases because the fly will rise through the water column ( away from the fish) as it swings
 

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Get yourself a copy of Bill MacMillans "Dryline Steelhead and other subjects".
You will arrive at the answer yourself. I fish dry lines successfully all year long thanks to his fine book.
 

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I fish floating lines May through October, but during this time I'll still switch to a sink tip during midday when water temps are warmer and there is a high sun on the water. So, water temps, clarity, depth and currant all factor in, but what do you all think about the sunlight factor. I'll normally stick to a floater until about 11am or noon, then switch to sink tip until the sun starts to fall. Don't know, but the sink tip seems to produce midday.
 

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GWJ - that is my take for sure on the Klamath where I do most of my fall fishing - if there is a bright sun, a sink tip definitely produces better than a floater - but there are stretches on the river that get early shade and I will switch back when I get shade. On overcast days without bright sun, I typically stick with the floater but been a long damn time since we got anything close to overcast , much less rainy days.

In case no one heard, the main Eel River near Fortuna has dried up and fall salmon are due any time!!!
 

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GWJ - my experience has been that in warmer water as opposed to cold water in winter - steelhead are more active and willing to move up to a fly IF they are undisturbed. A good part of my angling takes place where there are multiple guide-sleds constantly passing though a run. The occasional sled waking fish up passing through on their way elsewhere may be one thing - this entirely different. They will repeatedly zip back up to the head and pass through every inch of the run where the shore-bound fly-anglers are forced to wait for one boat to pass and casting just ahead of the next. In those conditions a sink tip will out-right outproduce the full-floater. There has been several times though when even hatchery fish have moved to a wet fly, on a floating tip in clear summer skies when the same sections had been undisturbed for some time - sometimes in the middle of the day after the majority of the guides had moved on to other parts of the river. Similar experiences on the Kalama and other streams where motor-boats are not allowed past a certain point and you can hit a few spots before the first drift boat come through. The Wynooche River for example, runs very clear and low in summer, but with only a few launches far, apart there are stretches that are completely undisturbed or well rested throughout the day.
 

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It's not about catching fish

Fish however you want. It doesn't matter whether you fish a dry line, long leader, a skater, weighted fly, or T-14 . If that's your thing, you will find a way that works for you. If sink tips are your thing, you can swap your tips to fish anything except top water. Edit your tackle (& the way you prefer to fish) to suit the water or visa-verse. The only caveat to that, is intermediate tips, which I have found to be unnecessary.

If catching fish were all that mattered, none of us would be fly fishing anyway. If we absolutely had to catch a steelhead on a fly rod, there are more productive methods than swinging a fly. We fish the way we fish because that is how we enjoy fishing.
 

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Except of the standard reasons like time of season, temp, color of water I also think the speed of the water is important. Where I fish in river driva the water is very fast indeed, I need to use at least a S3 tip in order to get the fly beneath the surface.
 

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I'm sure I'll get a ton of opinions on this. However, when does everybody switch from floating to intermediate or full sink tips? What's the biggest deciding factor that influences your decision?.[/QUOTE
Target specie and their location.
I have to agree that cooling temps mean at least a subsurface presentation. I also think that most steelhead are in the midwater column down to the stones.
 
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