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Discussion Starter #1
I have a newbie question about Scandi lines. My only two-handed spey casting experience so far is with Rio Skagit Max line. I would like to step up to a floating line with a slightly longer head so I am looking at the 520 gr Rio Scandi (38’ head) and Rio InTouch Short Head (44 head’) Spey lines. From my SH fly fishing experience, the long front taper of the Rio Scandi looks like something that would be used for delicate presentation of small dry flies but might not be so effective for anything larger or heavier. The Rio Short Head looks like more of a general-purpose line. Quite honestly, delicate presentation of a streamer is not something I have found to be important. I know Scandi lines are really popular so I think I must be missing something obvious. What are the pros and cons of the Scandi vs Short Head Spey, for both casting and fishing performance?
 

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You'd be surprised what a scandi or short belly line can handle in terms of fly size or weight. Obviously big lead eye bunny strip leeches may not be the best choice, but metal tubes and bead chain eyes on shanks are certainly doable, and big irons up to 3/0 are not a problem at all.

As for pros and cons between those two lines, it really depends on how much line you're comfortable using, and what length rod you've got. You should still be able to manage some Sustained Anchor casts with those lines, but they will really excel with the Single Spey and Snake rolls. I may be biased, but I really like the sub-40ft "scandi" heads as an all around tool, especially when paired with some versitips.
 

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Generally speaking, you are correct about Scandi lines being better suited to smaller flies and delicate presentations. The Rio short head spey isn’t all that different in terms of fly size/weight either. Unch is correct that both short head spey lines and Scandi lines can throw some good sized flies (especially in the grain window you are looking at). For me personally, I think of lines in terms of what I like best: for summer and fall fishing there isn’t much sweeter than a longer line (either Scandi or short belly spey lines) and a smallish fly, but if I’m looking to cast streamers and sinking tips/leaders it takes a lot of the fun out of using Scandi heads or short belly lines (my personal tastes). For those situations I like Rage heads a lot, or Skagit heads.

In terms of which would be “better” I think you’d want to be a bit more specific with your goals for that line. Fly size, stream conditions, fish species, etc. About delicate presentations, I think you will find that there are plenty of situations where that can be very important, but it really depends on the what/where/when.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks unch and Jason for your feedback. I fish for large brown trout on a tailwater section of one of Michigan's well-known rivers. Occasionally I do a little steelhead fishing too. I have a spare spool for my reel so I am planning to carry both the Skagit and floating line with me. The Skagit will be used when river conditions dictate using a sink tip and weighted flies. When the river conditions change, I would like to be able to swing unweighted flies or, if necessary, drift a nymph indy rig. If I have to choose between catching fish and not catching fish, I choose the first one. My goal is to be able to cover a range of conditions with 2 lines that I can cast.

Regarding how much line I'm comfortable with, probably both options will create a learning curve for me. The Skagit and Short Head are similar in length so I was thinking they might be an equal challenge but maybe I am wrong. I don't know if one is much easier to cast than the other.
 

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There are very comparable style of lines my experience. Totally interchangeable; One for the other in prevailing conditions and having both is somewhat redundant.

The so called Scandi-tapers are often just the "head" which can be swapped out for a different style of line (i.e. skagit head) with seasonal changes or different conditions.

Spey lines are most often integrated, and longer so are more versatile in that the body can be adjusted where a head /loop to loop connection can be to rattly noisy through the guides. Longer casts with less shooting/stripping of running line.

It looks like the Short Head Spey is a multi-tip line (with a floating tip) so you can assemble a matched/balanced set of tips that you can make "on-the-spot" adjustments for prevailing conditions (seasonally or by location) more easily and faster than swapping "heads."
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks fishon4evr for more good insight. I am leaning toward the Rio Short Head Spey because of the integrated running line and multi-tip versatility but thought I should ask about Scandi lines. There must be a reason why they are so popular. There is so much to learn...
 

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Thanks fishon4evr for more good insight. I am leaning toward the Rio Short Head Spey because of the integrated running line and multi-tip versatility but thought I should ask about Scandi lines. There must be a reason why they are so popular. There is so much to learn...
Reasons being the ease of casting a relatively short taper, surface oriented, and the novelty of loop connections I think.
Most SH lines are so similar to scandi heads that you could go that route also. Only you'd have to pay attention to the whole weight rather than just the first 30 feet the way SH lines are rated. May be two or three weight classes heavier to attain the same grain-range.

Cheers,
Vic.
 

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Lots of opinions on popularity and purpose, but scandi heads are popular for things like Atlantic salmon where depth isn't always needed (or permitted), they have a gentler presentation and use long(er) leaders, and they "underhand cast" really well (no backcast, no slashing the water with a skagit load). Scandi heads usually like crisp rods too. It's perfectly common and de rigeur to set up your two hand rod with both skagit and scandi-type heads. There are loads of versatile options (Scandi-body, Rages, etc.), especially if you have a shorter two-hand rod (less than 13ft) (which you probably do since you plan on doing some nymphing). There are lots of great integrated, scandi-type lines. I like the Wulff Ambush, but know others really like the SA and Airflo Switch offerings too. I don't use the short head spey lines, so can't comment. I'm sure that if you gave the model, weight, and length of your rod, there are plenty on these pages who could give you very knowledgeable and specific recommendations on either style of line for you. Hope it works out!
 

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One possible advantage of the Scandi head for your situation is that you can swap it in and out with Skagit on the same reel/spool. That would save what you have to carry and free up the spare spool for a more nymphing specific line.

Most of my set-ups are 1 rod and reel with a Skagit and Scandi head so I can do that. On the long rod I have a mid-belly which, being integrated, has to have its own spool/reel.
 

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Thanks unch and Jason for your feedback. I fish for large brown trout on a tailwater section of one of Michigan's well-known rivers. Occasionally I do a little steelhead fishing too. I have a spare spool for my reel so I am planning to carry both the Skagit and floating line with me. The Skagit will be used when river conditions dictate using a sink tip and weighted flies. When the river conditions change, I would like to be able to swing unweighted flies or, if necessary, drift a nymph indy rig. If I have to choose between catching fish and not catching fish, I choose the first one. My goal is to be able to cover a range of conditions with 2 lines that I can cast.

Regarding how much line I'm comfortable with, probably both options will create a learning curve for me. The Skagit and Short Head are similar in length so I was thinking they might be an equal challenge but maybe I am wrong. I don't know if one is much easier to cast than the other.
I’m thinking you meant to say that the Scandi and the Short head spey are similar length? Skagit heads are quite a bit shorter. I think you would find the Scandi head (or an integrated Scandi line) would be easier to transition to, though both lines would be considered easy casting with appropriate technique adjustments. Casting the Short head spey line with sinking tips will take a bit more getting used to, and I would stick with the floating tip for a bit until you get a good feel for the line.

You’ve mentioned versatility a lot, so here’s a couple thoughts: first off, since you already have a Skagit head, carrying a Scandi head in a ziplock bag allows you to just swap heads as Darth Wader said. Covers a very wide range of situations. Now if you are looking at a single line to be as versatile as possible, I think it’s hard to beat an Airflo Rage head, but the Rio Short head spey would be a close second (in my personal unrefined tastes anyway). Or you could just go the route that many (most?) of us have gone; just start acquiring all sorts of lines for different rods, different seasons, different moods, different moon phases...etc. It’s totally unnecessary, and inefficient; but it is fun :grin2:
 

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People have covered most points. To expand on Jason’s last point, it’s not all strictly about presentation, at least to a lot of us. Yes, there is that consideration, but it can be an aesthetic choice as well. People can usually reel off the practical reasons for their choice, but when you listen to them carefully it is often about more than that. The first time I clearly realized this was probably only a few months after I started spey casting, when a person I respected waxed poetic on how doing single speys on a long line (longer than either the lines you mention) down a long run was one of the extreme aesthetic pleasures of his life. I didn’t know exactly what that was at the time, but (a la the “When Harry Met Sally” diner scene) I thought to myself “I’ll have what he’s having”! And I wasn’t disappointed when I finally got there.

Both of those heads are still pretty short, and you should still be able to do all 4 spey cast without having to adjust too much, so either will both be good intros into the non-skagit world. I think those heads are more or less functionally interchangeable, but the main thing will be whether this makes you a convert to the unnecessary and inefficient game.:hihi:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah Jason, you are right. My goof. I meant to say the Short Head and Scandi are similar lengths.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone for more great input. Although I am new to two-handed rods, I have been fly fishing a long time and the thing that has always amazed me is how we can all do the same thing but yet look at it in different ways. I really appreciate all the good advice.
 

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IceT.
Putting it bluntly, what you all delight in calling a "Scandi" head, is just a shooting head, pure and simple.Its cut to a weight and length to work a rod optimally and perfectly every time with as little effort as possible in as wide a range of circumstances as possible..A short headed Spey is basically the same line, but with a slightly longer belly(in most case's the difference in length won't be a lot!) and a full length integrated running line.As such it will require a little more effort and thought in casting it compared to a shooting head.Obviously, a medium length belly(head), requires still more of everything, as does a longer belly(head)-but more so.In theory the longer length of belly(head) one lifts, positions and casts the greater the reliance on there being space to do so and the greater the reliance on the wind being clement to do so, also the skill and strength input from the angler will also rise as does the need to be using appropriate kit to do the job!.One of the great benefits of casting any form of shooting head is its greater level of predictability.
Part of your confusion arrises from (wrongly)assuming that shooting heads are all Scandi lines and have the same long fine taper.Thats far from the case.Shooting heads and any of the Full Spey lines can have roughly the same front tapers to aid delivery, turn over and weight carrying properties.
The skill comes in buying the right one in the first place!, by now you might just be realising that a shooting heads a shooting head and its the taper that changes, not just the label on the box!
On all of my Salmon out fits I can turn over 3" of copper tube easily(thats bloody heavy), with my dedicated sunk line outfits I can turn over flee's that would bruise your feet through wading boots were you to drop one!.
To answer another question in the thread, just because a line is a multi tip dosen't make it solely a short headed Spey line!, yes its easier and makes more sense especially when one gets to the type 6 or type 8 tips in casting them off shorter belly(heads), but it dosen't have to be the case.I use multi tip heads a lot, they can and will turn over big heavy flee's and they are capable of getting a flee down deep.
So in answering your original question, a shooting head will be easier to cast over a wider range of circumstances-it's the shorter of the two and will require less effort, it will handle tapered leaders and poly tips in up to 15ft and LSR24 easily(10ft polys will be ideal on most shooting heads), but you will be able to fish other differing heads from the same spool +running line should you need to expand your fishing i.e you want to progress to intermediate or sinking heads or a multi tip head or any existing Skagit set ups!.
Short headed Spey, will be a full length fly line and will need its own dedicated spool and backing,there won't be any annoying loops to contend with and it will require a little more user input to cast, but essentially will be the very same line, there won't be a lot between them.They should cast and fish the same flee's easily.
Don't expect them to behave like a Skagit in what they'll cast/turn over and while both a shooting head and short headed spey line will cast and present polys perfectly, neither is for T material or 15 multi tips!(some may well cope, but it will be very much a bonus rather than the rule!)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
BTW, a few people have said I should mention which rod I use. It is a Winston BIII TH 12'9" 7 wt. Nice rod. I hope to someday be worthy of it. When I look at the Rio line recommendation chart, 520 gr probably isn't the right weight for a scandi head so please ignore that comment in my first post. My first goal is to choose my first non-skagit line. Getting the right line weight is next. Thanks again to everyone. Great feedback.
 

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Generally speaking, you are correct about Scandi lines being better suited to smaller flies and delicate presentations.


Sorry, but it is another misconception. Sure, if we are talking about Scandinavian shooting head in 300-400 gr, you are right.

But, take SH Head like Guideline 3D in 530 gr + range ( F-H-S2 or higher sinking rake) or even Rio 3D 9/10 580 gr + (Rio or GL head can always be cut pruned feet from the back) , and you will find that front few feet weights 8.5-9.5 gr/food , the head has nice taper and with dynamic Single Spey you can easily turnover really large flies, except 4-5 inch dead rodent made from rabbit strip loaded with lead......

Below is an image of 3 inch stinger made from Rhea/Nuria/some flashabou . Cone head is only 0.3 gram and trailing hook size 1 weights another 0.35 g. Total weight around 1.0 gram ( 15.4 grain) and most dressing does not absorb to much water. A front sinking part of the head does sinking job, no need for a pound of lead . This fly gets on 3D SH a free flying lesson , even when using head like e F-H-I with fluorocarbon leader.
 

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Some great stuff shared here. I'd just like to specify something about the Rio Intouch Short Head spey (which is my goto line presently). The line is designed to be used with 15 foot replacement tips (not polyleaders), and it comes pre-rigged with a floating one. The tip of the head is much fatter (heavier) than SCANDI lines or most other non-skagit spey lines, basicaly to help transition from the body to the 15 foot tips. The length of the tip is included in their stated head length. I wouldn't be using this line with just a mono leader (I would use the floating replacement tip + a mono leader). Now is this a deal breaker? Not at all… I'm sure a SCANDI with proper leader/ polyleader will get the same job done. But it is a difference in design I just wanted to point out. Its at home with water anchored OR touch and go casts (although I've yet to prove that since my touch and go casts suck… still… ).

Just throwing that out there...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I have always been a fly-fishing gear ignoramus so I really appreciate the great info about Scandi heads vs Short Head Spey lines. I guess I am more of a strategy and tactics guy. My fly-fishing daydreams are about stuff like how to get a streamer in front of the big brown trout that hangs out on the other side of a funky current. It’s nice to have so many people willing to offer their opinions and experience about gear, casts, and the whole spey experience.

Given the range of flies I will want to cast, I think I am going to go with the Rio InTouch Short Head Spey but it was a much tougher choice than expected. Everyone gave me a lot to think about. If I didn’t already have the extra spool to use for the Short Head Spey, I think a Scandi head could serve just as well. Looking forward to this next step in my spey casting journey. Many thanks!
 

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I often use mono leader looped directly to the body (with the tip section removed) on either Winter Authority, Airflo Delta, Delta Long, and other multi-tips from Rio. So, in this configuration, I have the same line performing similar to a "Rage" head when and where may be desired/beneficial without swapping lines or spools.

Tips and/or replacements for these range from 12 to 20 feet all depending on manufacture sink rate and weight class. Generally speaking - > 7/8 weight -class lines will have tips 70 to 100 grain and ~ 120+ for 8/9>. Only 100 lighter or so in most cases.

Multi-tip lines are a bit more adaptive than you might think.
Vic.
 

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Hang on, I was under the distinct impression that the only 'true' Spey line is a double-taper. That any line that incorporates a head - whether 25ft or 75ft - is still a head. Similarly that integrated or not is a bit of a red herring - there's still a running/shooting line attached one way or the other.

I know the AFFTA standard designates 'Shooting-head'; 'Short belly'; 'Medium belly'; 'Long Belly' but I don't think that really works in the world we now live in.

I would define a Scandi as a short shooting-head with a gentle front taper, designed for the Scandinavian underhand casting style. A Skagit as a short shooting-head with an aggressive front taper designed for heavy-lifting and Skagit-style casts. Those are 'true' heads and not integrated.

Short belly, medium belly and long belly is just about weight distribution over length, the tapers have to change as a result but the presentation effects are comparable. Though obviously the shorter the head or belly the more stripping you have to do if you're gonna huck mega.
 
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