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Discussion Starter #1
I have seen so many 'Which Tip' threads over the years and can't reply because I don't use conventional tips. Another thing that should be mentioned is that I fish with lines having belly / head lengths from 45' to 70' so I do a lot of mending to allow my fly to sink.

Regarding what I'm about to post here; Hunter S. Thompson said something once and here I paraphrase him. 'What I do isn't for everybody but it's always worked for me.'

If you still aren't satisfied with the range of things you have tried to get it down maybe you'll try my Voodoo. This will not get you snagged on the bottom, if that is what you expect from fishing a wet fly this probably isn't going to be your cup of tea.

What I am going to propose to the readers here may or may not be a new concept to you. You may have read post from me at any time over the years about how I rig my lines for streamer fishing. I am quite sure I am not the only fly fisherman who uses this method but I can say that I've never came across a detailed article regarding how and why it works. Something else I should mention is that it is not my intention to 'convert' people to this way of doing the job, I don't sell leaders and am not affiliated with anyone who does. It's just a way of doing things that I stumbled into and then fine tuned over the past 25 years.

How you sink your line or fly is a big thing to consider. This is true whether you use a Spey rod or a single hand rod when swinging streamers / Spey type flies / salmon flies. It seems an ever growing array of lines are being produced to meet this need doesn’t it? What I am going to describe is a method I took up in 1994 and continue to use today. Prior to developing my skills with the system I will describe as best I can to you, I carried either extra spools or reels to meet certain conditions. The most economical aspect of the system is that it eliminates the need to purchase spare spools and the expensive sinking lines we would put on them.

Before you read on and before I continue writing there’s something to get out of the way first. We’ve all heard someone tell us, “If you aren’t getting snagged and losing flies you aren’t doing it right” or some version of that philosophy haven’t we? I hope you’ll have an open mind and understand that I don’t take offense when someone says that to me. I also will trust that you will not take umbrage when I say that I do not enjoy becoming snagged every sixth or seventh cast. I really don’t like losing my flies and I think one of the most ridiculous things I can see while I’m out fishing is someone who, every time I glance in their direction is tugging and bouncing with their rod due to being stuck on the bottom. Honestly, I don’t care how many fish that fellow may catch, there are no fish worth that level of frustration to me that would compel me to do it. I have been there, I have tied slinky’s to my expensive fly lines and my 400 dollar rods all the way back in the 1980’s. It didn’t last long, not at all, a few hours and I'd had enough. I love to fish and better yet I live for days when not one thing can bring a foul word from my mouth, heavy weights combined with heavy sinking heads will make you curse. Me, I’ll settle for a few less fish and a curse free day. I'm a fly fisherman and I don't spend a lot of time tugging, rod bending or leader popping because I'm stuck to the bottom as if I were fishing bait with a sinker. There, I said it, Now you know where I'm coming from so let’s continue.

Anyone who has fly fished using both a floating fly line and a sinking line knows that these are two different worlds when it comes to casting. Two things (although there may be others) stand out when you make the switch from floater to sinker or sink tip line. Most sink tips have a 15’ section spliced and molded onto the front of a floating line and these are much more common than full sinking lines to most of us I believe. Let’s look at fishing a streamer with a floating line first. Rather than to expand on this I will supply this link to a thorough article on this topic here; Spey Page Link I’ll wait here while you read and absorb that.

I think we can all agree that casting is easier with floating lines. You are able to swing your fly until it hangs straight downstream and then sweep up the rod and a significant length of fly line to re-cast without too much effort, correct? Now when you put on that 15 foot type 6 or Hi Density tip things will become a lot different. You will notice that in overhead casting the sink tip will not only feel different but in most cases it will fly further when you let her go. I was always a fan of that added distance on the forward cast. I started with a sink tip line in 1979 and believe they were just being introduced around that time. Prior to that I had a full sink as my wet fly line but we’re talking sink tips and I digress. Aside from that presumed added distance on your delivery cast there is a minor amercement involved with using a sink tip line. You’ll no doubt notice straight away that it sure won’t sweep up with the same ease as your floater will it? When using a sink tip I customarily I had to strip in a great deal of my fly line prior to re-casting. Now if you are catching a fish every other time that you are dragging the fly back upstream I won’t tell you not to do it. I myself have caught so few by that means over the past 4 ½ decades that I found it to be almost punitive to have to strip in all that line for every cast. Please bear in mind I have never been much of a Stillwater fly fisherman where this stripping action can be of premier benefit, I fish streams & rivers primarily.

Enough of the buildup; how do I get away fishing my streamers and salmon flies without using a sinking line per say? I use small sections of various sinking materials in the middle portion of my leaders. I have talked about this in the past but this writing is meant to lay out the specifics of ‘How, Why, and when I make the decision of what length and weight per inch of the material I utilize in any and all fishing situations. When I first took up fishing using a 13 foot Spey rod I fell for the sink tip trap. I thought fishing with a Spey rod was a whole new thing, wrong! It's all the same, but let me explain what happened. I bought a Scientific Anglers 55' mid belly Multi Tip Line. I used that line for an entire season and by June of the following year I was so frustrated with my lack of improvement as a Spey caster that I was at my wits ends. It was at that time, camped on a river here in Alaska which was full of salmon, however I was struggling so much with my casting that the fun index was at a very low point. I waded back to shore where I had a chair unfolded and took a seat. Quite disgusted at that moment I was questioning whether or not I could do this. Of course the long rod had its advantages and not all casts were complete failures but something was wrong. As I sat there my gaze fell on the boat and in it sat my old tackle bag. Why not, I thought, why not use the same leaders and lead heads I’ve been using since 1994 on my single hand rods? It should work! To the boat I went and retrieved my old bag and within a few minutes I had tied some Perfection loops into some mono for a butt and for a tippet. The center section which is a weighted line comes with a braided loop on each end and ready to go so no work there. I threw a leader together having a 48” braided lead head from Beartooth Montana fishing products. I had bought a bunch of them at a going out of business sale back in late 1993 or early 94 and had used them with great success on PA. & CO. streams and rivers until I left for AK. ten years ago. The difference was realized immediately, I could cast without my line stuck in the water like cement. That was 2011 and I never looked back. Prior to taking up the Spey rod I had used these leader sections on my single hand rods but somehow thought / believed a Spey rod was different. No they are not!

I will try to explain how this works and why I believe it is (for some) perhaps the best way to fish submerged streamers on any fly rod with a floating line opposed to sink tip lines. When we use a sink tip line or attach a tip directly to the floating line it sinks. The problem is that not only does the length of the sinking Tungsten line sink but because it is spliced directly to your floating line it will tend to pull the floater under as well. At first just a few feet of the floating tip and as the line is used hour after hour you may see as much as the first ten to 15 feet of your floating line going subsurface too and I don’t mean by an inch or two. I can’t be alone in this observation can I? If you have already read my writing on fishing and controlling the submerged fly then you know that the mainstay of fishing them is to have, and to maintain control by mending with the floating line. It is Simply a fact that the more of your line that is beneath the surface the more difficult it will be to affect control over the fly itself.

Now let us use the mind’s eye to envision something different. You have a good quality floating line and have kept it clean and dressed with a product tailored for this purpose. That line floats very well and when you have allowed it to make a complete downstream swing it has barely went beneath the surface on you. Somehow you felt confident that you had your fly swimming deep enough to attract a strike had there been a willing fish there. How’d you do that? If you are doing what I do, you had between 5 and 6 feet of 30 pound monofilament attached to the end of the floating line. Looking at the simple illustration below follow this concept from the floating line to your fly.


Your long mono butt has very little resistance to being dragged under the water unlike your hi floating fly line and can be taken down using significantly less than 15 feet of sinking line. This is due to mono having a higher specific gravity than water, it'll sink on its own. When you attach any form of weight to monofilament it will sink quickly & readily. When you attach a 4 foot (or longer / shorter) section of T material to the end of the mono butt section that weighted line with a much higher specific gravity than water will take the mono down & do so rapidly without disturbing the floating vinyl coated fly line to any great degree. Your line stays up better and longer on every swing while the fly and the leader find the fish.

You’ll notice that you have a length of tippet material which due to its reduced size offers even better sinking properties than the 30 pound butt. If you chose to attach a weighted fly such as a cone head or similar to the tippet it too will have a propensity to sink. Depending on the length and weight of your weighted leader section you can determine how fast and how deep the fly and tippet will sink. You can mix these combinations up as follows: a heavier section of T material like T-14 and an un-weighted fly will allow you to put the leader at or very near the bottom while the fly should maintain its course slightly higher in the water thus avoiding possible snagging. Conversely you may chose to go with 5 feet of T 8 or 11 and use a fly with a weighted head or cone. These decisions are made site by site taking into account the velocity of the flow and it's depth. Slower water allows for even more choice in how to rig and swifter flows dictate heavier leaders and perhaps flies also. Capisci ?

Because the sink tip is not connected directly to the floating line your ability to mend and control that line right down to the tip is greatly enhanced. By spending just a very short time observing your leader & fly at close range while counting seconds you can easily ascertain how quickly the unit as a whole is reaching a known or perceived depth. I gotta ask; are you getting this or is it confusing :confused:

Now if, and that is the key operative word here ‘if’ you have been focusing on reducing drag on your floating line as discussed in the article about fishing & controlling the submerged fly, you are getting the hang of allowing your fly to reach its maximum potential depth. You are reaching this depth without the fly being moved to the surface by excessive drag formed by the bow in the line caused by current, or by overzealous line movements made by you the fisherman. When you combine good line management & control habits with a mental awareness of how the fly is being sunk and at what rate, you are able to present your fly where the fish will see it. My observations on fly control using this type sink system are as follows: because the mono butt section has very little resistance to the water it readily will react quickly to any change of direction imparted to the tip of the floating fly line via you and your various mends for directional control. Because the weighted section is at the very longest, 6 feet, it will also react readily to being directed by the fly line and the fly and lighter tippet follow suite. You can judge quite well what your fly is doing directionally simply by looking at the end of your floating line, because it's floating :) it don't get much simpler than that, no more guess work, you can become adept at knowing what's happening underwater. I once wrote that "until you are in control of your line and fly in an active fashion, you are just standing there holding the cork". There are times when I just hold the cork, but it's nice to believe that you can impart some action and control if you deem it appropriate don't you agree?

Regardless of what you use to sink a fly there will always be a section of water so swift – so deep that nothing short of a 1 ounce bell sinker will reach the bottom. These areas in my personal view were not, and are not meant to be fished with traditional fly gear and so I don’t bother with such water while fishing. That isn’t to say that I don’t swing through it as far down as I can get to see if there are fish willing to play nearer the surface, I just don’t try to feel the bottom nor am I obsessed with the notion that I must.

If or when you adapt to this system of fishing with your streamers you will notice how much easier it is to bring a 2 – 3 – 4 or 5 foot length of T line up to the surface for re-casting than it is to strip in a 15 foot sink tip to a manageable length. Part of the strategy and technique of fishing wet flies is to cover as much water with each successive cast as possible while continually moving the cast and swinging fly down the stream channel. Once you have adapted a means to do this without time spent pulling in half your line before re-casting you are fishing more. This ability is also very helpful when you locate a fish that taps or bumps your fly during the swing but fails to get hooked. If you are able to cast again without significantly shortening your line it is simple to repeat your exact cast both in placement and length of swing / arc. I have to ask again; are you getting this concept? Is this making sense? God, I hope so because it took forever to compose to this point :D What I just told you is the best method I have found to produce a ‘come back’ strike from a trout – salmon or steelhead. ie; Knowing that your fly is taking exactly the same course through the stream because you were able to sweep up your line to cast without stripping in. This allows for you to duplicate any cast or to shorten it by a foot or two before throwing it back out. I generally go shorter by a foot or 2 because I've seen countless fish return to the same area but a tad further up channel when they stop, then drifting back to find their sweat spot in the current. The important thing is I have essentially the correct length of line before I even cast again.......

In the diagram, all of the connections are made via loop to loop splices.

If your fly line came with a welded loop you may want to consider the braided connector demonstrated in this thread; Braided Connectors

If you are currently carrying extra spools or reels to accommodate changing between floating lines and sinking lines the method I have attempted to explain may be useful in lightening your load. If you are currently using multi tip lines – sinking leaders like polly leaders that attach directly to your line and essentially do the same thing as a sink tip ie; drag the floating line under and protest when you need to sweep them from the water to re-cast, this may be helpful to you too.

A quick recap: I’m not saying it’s right for everyone but it works for me. I determine how much and what weight section of T material to add to my leader based on best guess in regard to current and average depth of water fished. If I run into a shallow run and have 5 foot of T-17 in my rig, I cast more quartered down and across and I hold the tip back toward upstream to create drag enough to keep my fly from snagging. When I come into a run averaging 6 feet deep I cast straight across and use the mending and following technique described in the Fishing the submerged fly article. Pretty simple, it’s actually a trigonometry exercise, angular velocity is what you are trying to solve for. If you are mathematically inclined you can easily create an equation for what we are trying to do if that will help you in grasping the meaning of this entire article.

I will put together a ‘How To’ thread for making your own T sections if there is a need, you could I assume find a video on-line easier though 

Ard
 

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In terms of the originality and depth of research, from years of experimentation to anaylsis and interpretation (not to mention length!), you've pretty much completed a Ph.D. dissertation here! We'll done Dr. Ard. :cool:
 

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I`m going to give it a whirl, your post makes a lot of sense, I hate sinkers and I use sink tip leaders anyway your way looks like a better way and not sinking the floating fly line. As we have talked before where I fish is one solid rock pile and actually if I can get into more areas without snagging up I will catch more fish. There are great places I`ve never fished because of that.
 

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Hey Ard,

Was wondering on what kind of lines you are using this type of rig? What kind of weight (T section ) and size (fly) are you able to cast with different types of lines? I was conceiving something like this last fall, went as far as purchasing a 5' super-double-ultra......fast sinking poly to try but had a contract come up and didn't really get to fish until January. This winter I used mostly skagits as we were fishing deep (e.g. 10'), slow water and yanking a 15' tip up from that deep on a Delta wasn't much fun. Have you ever played with extending your butt section to reach those kind of depths? (Maybe you fish that deep all the time).

Great post. I will take this strategy out on the river later this week. Want to see what I can do with a Delta 8/9.

Thanks,

Tom
 

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Hey Ard,

After our pm's last fall, I built a few sinking sections with your system in mind. looking forward to experimenting with them this spring.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hey Ard,

Was wondering on what kind of lines you are using this type of rig? What kind of weight (T section ) and size (fly) are you able to cast with different types of lines? I was conceiving something like this last fall, went as far as purchasing a 5' super-double-ultra......fast sinking poly to try but had a contract come up and didn't really get to fish until January. This winter I used mostly skagits as we were fishing deep (e.g. 10'), slow water and yanking a 15' tip up from that deep on a Delta wasn't much fun. Have you ever played with extending your butt section to reach those kind of depths? (Maybe you fish that deep all the time).

Great post. I will take this strategy out on the river later this week. Want to see what I can do with a Delta 8/9.

Thanks,

Tom


Hi Tom,

I vary the length and weight of T sections based on the line I'm using.

For instance: With an 800 grain line having a 65' belly I generally use 3 - 3 1/2 foot of T-14 and a 6' butt of 30 lb.

With one of Steve Godshall's long Scandi lines (45' head) weighing 600 grains I use 6' of T-8 and a 6 1/2' butt.

I tip both of those with 3 foot of Maxima. The lighter line doesn't like to push a short heavy section in the leader but works real nice with the longer section of lighter material. They weigh nearly the same but the distribution seems to matter with the lighter line.

On a 13' eight weight rod with a 575 grain line, 55' belly I can throw the 3' T-14 OK but you know it's there.

If your rod length will allow for a longer butt then I see no reason why not to make it as long as the rod & angler can manage a good cast with it. The longest I use is 6 1/2 feet of butt but I don't have to go way deep.

Be sure your floating line is dressed and floating as well as it can and you should notice that the tip will not be drawn under more than just a bit at the very end. I use a little flip of my rod tip to get the floating line up where it should be prior to sweeping the line for a cast. With the floater doing just that (floating) you should be able to rip these sinking line / leader combo's out of the water with ease.

This short video will show that snap of the tip just before the sweep. The line in the video is the 600 grain 45' Scandi with 6 1/2 feet of T-9 (I think) in the leader. The total leader length was 15 feet and I was casting a Wilkinson Sunray (weighted Tube Fly) in the video. It's just a short clip made to help a friend on-line but it will show me snapping the line to get it right on the surface before dragging that line (all 45 foot of it) the leader with T material - and the weighted fly all up the current with relative ease. Video
 

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Ard, I really like this. I used to make up leaders for my single handers using leadcore, which I still have quite a lot of. Would I need heavier mono butt section leadcore? The problem I have with t-11 is that the coating keeps stripping off after a while. I am guessing that I could just vary the length of the mono butt and the leadcore to get different sink rates/depths or did I misunderstand your method?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
cebe,

I used a product sold by an outfit called Beartooth Montana for years. These were called Braided Lead heads. They are braided mono with a loop on each end and a lead wire inside the braid. They worked fine with single hand rods and I used them for a few years with 2 hand casting too. So this would be somewhat similar to your lead core line.

Two things I like about using the T materials; first came the fact that this material is something anglers are used to seeing because it is what a sink tip or sink tip line is made with. This was a good thing because when I would want too put a lead head into someone's leader they didn't like the looks of the braided section. Mind over matter being what it is people were convinced that this had to feel weird and they would have trouble casting with the heads. The T material was what they are used to seeing and so it was more widely accepted, mentally and it works well too. Those are not the only 2 advantages though, the fact that the material is rated by the foot in grains helps you to better determine how long a section you really need. It also is more supple and has little interference in the way the leader unfurls.

I solved the problem of how to join the T sections between the 2 mono segments by making braided loop sleeves out of 20 pound braided mono. Just like the ones Rio sells and you can buy these pre made at a fly shop. Slide a braided loop onto each end of the T line and then secure with a nail knot made with 8 pound mono. The braid stops the ends of the T line from being cut by the mono and the coating remains intact throughout a whole season. I like T line a whole lot better than the lead heads.

Remember the whole idea on my end was to eliminate the need for multi tip lines. Also to provide a decent sink rate without having a tip so heavy that it interfered with my casting. No more carrying extra stuff, just a couple T sections in a pocket in case for any reason I would have to change one.

I guess that if you have some #40 mono and want to try the lead core it may work out but the T line with the braided ends are pretty sweat :)
 

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Ard:
Interesting reading. I fish a dry line most of the time, but your post has got me interested in trying your system, at least to experiment. I'm curious how this system feels to cast. I'll just have to try it and see. Separating the sinking line from the head makes sense to allow it to sink deeper, kind of like casting with a sinker on your leader.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

Todd
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi Todd,

There is a difference between using these sections in your leader and casting just a floating line with no weight whatsoever. I don't mind this system at all when casting, you just need to adjust timing during the sweep and subsequent set up to allow that the leader doesn't sink too deep. I've got a casting stroke that keeps my fly skidding right along the surface and when I form the D it settles just enough to provide a good anchor.

This picture shows a cast going out.



The leader is 15' with 6 1/2 foot of T-8 in the middle. The white spot at the end of the floating line tip is my braided connector between line and mono butt. When you look at the loop lifting, the leader is just about to come out of the water following the line tip. That line is a 600 grain 45' Scandi with integrated vinyl running behind it. It will rip that 15' leader right up and send it out to where you want it.
 

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Single hand rod 63 years, Spey 12 years Fly tying 63 years
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Wow, good info Ard. I'll be giving it a try. Thank you
Bjay
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Right you are, it's a 7/8 and since Steve G. fixed it up with a line it has became my light rod. Prior to his matching it with a line I went through a bunch trying to get the most out of the rod, he really is good!

You know the rod isn't light but the line at 600 grains it's my lightest long rod and I used that until the ice shut me down last year. Now I'm just a few days from taking it fishing again. I actually have a video taken that same day with a fish in it, I was brand new to the Go Pro thing last fall but will be able to do some stuff this year that may be worth sharing. For casting type videos and general use I' have a little Sony which will do a better job if there is someone to shoot the pictures.

Speaking of getting down, I just received a package full of Zink Sink Material from the line works yesterday so I'll be using that this season. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I managed this one a couple years ago, it had never been used. The rod had a backstory of fishing trips that never happened and a second owner who bought it but never cast it. He had it for years and then I got his number from a friend. I called thinking it would be more than I was willing to pay but was surprised at the price. I paid 330.00 delivered and when I opened it up it was clear that I was the first user. I have a 10/11 in the same rod and that one although heavier will throw a Rio Mid Spey across most rivers I fish. It is harder to fish all day because the line weight and rod kinda gang up on you. I do enjoy these vintage rods though. I have 3 old Hardy rods that are built similar to the DBF's and I use one of them a whole lot also.
 

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Unconventional sink-tip

Very interesting reading. I fixed a up leader how you recommended, but the only question I have is would this technique work on a Unispey line? I have Scandi line but I don't think it would be heavy enough for the sink tip.

Thanks,

Greg
 

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I used a product sold by an outfit called Beartooth Montana for years. These were called Braided Lead heads. They are braided mono with a loop on each end and a lead wire inside the braid. They worked fine with single hand rods and I used them for a few years with 2 hand casting too. So this would be somewhat similar to your lead core line.
 

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I'll be trying this approach on my next trip. Just got some T20 connectcore ordered that im going to double up and weld continuous T40 chunks or even try welding four sections together to create 80 grain one foot monster...

This is going to be interesting...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Depending on the weight of your line you may want to spread the weight out over more length. I do use T-20 at times but it is noticeably more difficult to cast even in a 4 foot length. I throw those with an 825 grain line and use big weighted flies also.

On lighter lines like my Steve Godshall Super Scandi I'm using 6' of T-10 with lighter flies and moving the whole thing with 600 grains in a 45 foot head.

I guess you will figure it out, look for the right amount of weight for both water conditions and your lines ability to carry it gracefully. Remember that if you go lighter in the leader you compensate by using either straight across or slightly up when you cast then mend like crazy to get things down. Once down tighten the line a bit and get things swinging.

Ard
 
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