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Discussion Starter #1
This year represents my first foray into fishing for trout on the Spey rod and it has been a blast. I am still surprised that I catch decent numbers of fish with a swung streamer (compared to my usual cast and strip approach) and I am keen to continue to explore the possibilities. I started off with a basic outfit (Echo TR 11'3" 4-weight) with a 300 gr. Commando head and a pair of Commando sink tips (96 gr. S3/4 and 9 gr. S2/3), along with a floating tip. I have gotten into the habit of switching tips to match the water depth or velocity I'm fishing and it seems to work decently, with the S3/4 getting most of the work during higher flows and the S2/3 getting more once flows dropped.

Here's my question - what other sink tips should I consider buying? I found that the S3/4 sometimes seemed not quite enough to fish the deeper/faster runs of the rivers I've haunted of late. I am hoping to make at least one trip to the N. Platte in Wyoming this fall (it's just on the ragged edge of day trip range for me) and if I'm going to drive for 7 hours roundtrip, I'd like to be sure I have the necessary gear to make it a productive learning experience.

Cheers!
 

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If you are totally happy with the way the head and tips you have now cast, or are at any rate not interested in experimenting further ATM, then you can simply match their weight and length using DC (density compensated) tips, but ones that sink faster. I don’t have any comando tips, and perhaps the also make faster sinking ones too, but I will assume they are 10’ - if not recalculate the gr/ft - but at 10’ that tip will be about 9 1/2 gr/ft. That is about the same as a 9wr Rio replacement tip. Those come in 6ips and 8ips (grey and dark green color tags) as well as ones in the sink range you already have. So if you got yourself 6ips and 8ips 9wt 10’ rio replacement tips then that would give you two faster sink settings that should cast virtually the same as the tips you have. Like you said, you will not always need that much, but it is good to have. I know I definitely use the 6ips a lot on a trout spey. Hope the idea helps a bit. It’s nice to have a full set of sink rates of the same length so you can switch gears on the fly to see what works best. You will definitely find different trout swinging spots where ALL those sink rates will work best, even on relatively small rivers, so nothing crazy. The 8ips might be for especially fast and/or deep holes.

Ps. Not the range you are thinking about above, but they also make those in INT (~1.5 ips, clear). Those are pretty awesome for trout as well.
 

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I find myself looking for the "good water" that matches my setup vs the setup that matches any water. I do have a wide range of tips, but if you want to fish 15 feet deep holes, a swung fly kind of isn't the best approach usually, in my personal opinion. That s3/s4 commando tip should get you pretty deep in trout water if you cast it across, put a big mend or two in and let it dead drift and sink before starting the swing. They do make faster sink rates, though (s5/s6), which they call bucket.
 

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S6 would be the equivalent of t8 for the sink rate. Still what Id call in the ”medium” range. Not all swing fishing is finessing the fly into a certain depth at a certain spot for a few seconds. A lot of swinging, even for trout, is searching. To not have at least an s8 in your pocket somewhere when you go out to explore, or for new conditions even at places you know, is a serious disadvantage. And there will be, I guarantee, certain places and times where it will be the only thing that works.
 

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Sounds like you could use a straight 10 ft. T8 tip add your own loops or the replacement pre-made or MOW T8 equivalent. My home river may not be as deep as yours especially this low water fall time of year but our resident browns are eager and holdover bows are active. I've found the light MOW tips 5/5 and 7.5/2.5 are money to cast across, mend up and drift until the swing starts down & across. These tips will slide over mid river rocks and drop swimming nymphs and buggers/sculpins into the holding slot. A wider river with long deeper fast runs (Grey Reef?) might need a fast sinking tip. Maybe get a 30 ft. chunk of T8, make tips of 8, 10 & 12 ft. and save some bucks over pre-made stuff. A Commando head will turn those over just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for the replies - I now have a better idea of what I might want to add to my tip "wallet"!
 

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I use the OPST Riffle and Run tips for probably 90% of my trout streamer swinging (when I'm not just fishing a mono or intermediate poly). I usually only go heavier when water temps dip below 42 degrees. I will say that the T-8 can get you a fish or two in those conditions when the fish aren't moving more than a foot or so to the fly. There are always some exceptions, but I'm usually searching water that is at most 5 feet deep and moderate current, especially in the winter. Make yourself a few T-8s in 5, 7, 10, and 12 ft and I think you're in pretty good shape for the heavy stuff.
 

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JD
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When I started out, I had damn near every sink tip from floating to s8. I spent more time changing tips than I did fishing. You can get more depth out of a slow sinking tip if you know what you're doing, than you can out of a fast sinking tip if you don't know what you're doing! Learn to mend line & work with the current.

Not all good water is suitable swing water. Edit the water to suit your tackle, or edit your tackle to suit the water. When all else fails & you feel you just have to put a fly through a run, split shot will save the day. It ain't pretty, & it will raise the hackles for some, but it works.
 

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“You can do more with x - 2 with experience, and/or a brain than you can do with x” is a truism in many fields of endeavor.

But so is “you can do more with x with experience, and/or a brain than you can do with x-2 and the same.” :)

Still, I very much AM a fan of the whole minimalist Tenkara-style purist mode (when the mood hits) of one fly, one rod, one line, no reel - adapt to do it all. But I certainly haven’t mastered it yet.

While it is very much implied in the ABOVE post, sometimes it can seem a bit ingenious to tell the new guy this since it took a whole lot of experimenting and playing around with stuff to get to the point where you can make it all happen out of thin air. And it can seem more like the master making fun of the beginner than helping him. Maybe people who do this a lot should be required to post a picture of the accumulated contents of the fly fishing part of their man cave.:chuckle:
 

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I'm a fan of the MOW 5/5. Actually the one I use a lot is a MOW 2.5/5. I took a 2.5/7.5 and cut off 2.5 of the T8 (66 grns total). I like tips a little shorter.

You can dig down a little with this tip if you take 2-3 steps down after the cast/mend.
 

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JD
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Not to denigrate the novice at all. Rather suggest the K.I.S.S. method as it results in more time fishing with what you have. Which equates to figuring out how to make it work.

Tenkara? We did that when we were kids. Back in the day, it was called a cane pole.

The accumulated contents of my man cave go back at least sixty five years. Some of it has sentimental value only to me. It's mine, it's paid for, a lot of it is not made anymore. I'm a pack rat. My kids will get to deal with it someday.
 

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Not to denigrate the novice at all. Rather suggest the K.I.S.S. method as it results in more time fishing with what you have. Which equates to figuring out how to make it work.

Tenkara? We did that when we were kids. Back in the day, it was called a cane pole.

The accumulated contents of my man cave go back at least sixty five years. Some of it has sentimental value only to me. It's mine, it's paid for, a lot of it is not made anymore. I'm a pack rat. My kids will get to deal with it someday.
Yup, when I was a kid you could make a Tenkara set up in a few minutes. Cut a green switch, tie on some nylon, grab a rusty hook from the old mans tackle box and steal a couple slices of Wonder Bread for bait. You could catch brook trout till your arms fell off with a green switch and a bread ball.
 

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ha ha... awesome.

we would fashion hooks from paper clips to send minnows flying through the air...
when I was 6yrs I was going to open a restaurant serving minnow burgers...
drew up a menu, the van, everything.

thank fudge I became a builder instead, hey.

cheers,
shawn
 

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GHalliday——-You sure dredged up a memory with the Wonder Bread. Small hooks with grandfather’s bamboo fly rod (some kind of small black bait casting reel to hold braided line) and a tiny dough ball caught many a fish. Golden Shiners in particular, as big as the hatchery trout, put a bend down into the handle.

Botsari & JDJones——-Tenkara and K.I.S.S. method references will help remind me to stay in the pleasure zone when on the river. Kind of like SRC did when thrashing the OP for three weeks this past September.
 

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More than anything, I just enjoy catching fish on the lightest tackle I can get away with, and I suppose that is a type of purism. The beauty of becoming a swinger of flies (or a diehard dry fly person or whatever) is for me more about catching fish on your own terms, and is less about how many fish you're able to catch. Tenkara was mentioned, but I think anytime we do this, we are delving into the Japanese Zen art tradition, of art for the sake of liberating the self, not for the sake of its end product. As I recently read Modern Steelhead Flies, nowadays we have the luxury of forums like this, where information and opinions are so readily available. People who came before had to learn more experientially through trial and error, or through one on one interactions with other anglers. Those who came before them were even more limited and relied even more on self-discovery. Indeed many of us are old enough to remember fishing before the internet and were active participants. It's not that we don't still do this, but it is nice to have a resource where people can share their experiences. There's also still a certain amount of fun to be had by NOT asking and still using trial and error, which I also still do frequently. By asking for people's opinions, the poster has already decided he might not want to buy every single tip made by man. He can now read through our above opinions and decide for himself how deep he wants to go. (Pun intended)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
When I started out, I had damn near every sink tip from floating to s8. I spent more time changing tips than I did fishing. You can get more depth out of a slow sinking tip if you know what you're doing, than you can out of a fast sinking tip if you don't know what you're doing! Learn to mend line & work with the current.

Not all good water is suitable swing water. Edit the water to suit your tackle, or edit your tackle to suit the water. When all else fails & you feel you just have to put a fly through a run, split shot will save the day. It ain't pretty, & it will raise the hackles for some, but it works.
Thank you all, again, for the replies. I'm a novice to the Spey world, as my true addiction lies with throwing big 7 - 12" swimbaits for anything big enough and mean enough to look at a 12" trout imitation as a snack. When swimbait fishing I used essentially the approach espoused above - I took a 9" Slammer and learned how to make it work under all sorts of different conditions and retrieves. It took a while, but I can now do things with a Slammer that are best kept under the cover of darkness (my favorite time to fish them).

My approach with Spey fishing is pretty similar - I realize that there are things I can already do, and I've started modifying my approach to match what I like to do (streamers, big ones...see section on swimbait addiction above). My intent in asking about the tips is to try to gather more information on what a "basic" selection of tips ought to be, just like I would tell someone who was going to get into swimbait fishing that they'd want to start with a basic selection of 3 bait types. Now I've got the info I need, and soon I'll have that faster sinking tip, and then I can focus on putting in more time on the water figuring out how and when and why certain tips work for the fish I'm targeting. It's going to be fun!

The Tenkara discussion is an interesting one - it reminds me of the times I spent as a kid and teenager fishing various fresh and saltwater locales with nothing but a handline, bait (sometimes live, sometimes not), and catching some fun fish with about as minimalist approach as you can get. I even used it to catch trout in the Snowies in SE Australia during a week long hiking trip. I'll definitely do it again!
 

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JD
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big flies

As you increase the size of the fly, the first thing you notice is the difficulty in casting the fly is proportionate to the size. Size includes not only physical dimensions, but bulk & weight. Eventually, becoming impossible to obtain anything even remotely resembling good turn over. Kinda like trying cast a five inch whistler on a 6x tippet.

I struggled with this a long time. Sink tips/sink rates, the different T-materials, yada, yada. And truth be told there isn't that much difference between the slowest & the fastest sink rates. We're only talking inches/second, and most of the time you have less than five or six seconds before the current brings the fly under tension. Do the math. How much deeper does that get you?

So there must be more to it than that. What am I missing? It finally dawned on me that Skagit Jedi, Ed Ward, the one who started this big fly movement, only used his own home built T-14 (MOW) tips

I found a spec sheet (no longer exists) on all the different sink tips Rio made on their web site. I also found specs on the different T materials. T-14 for example, weighs (surprise, surprise) 14 gr/ft & is built on 35 lb mono. On the other hand, compare the typical 15 ft sink tip for a 7 wt rod which weighs 95 gr, total! Or 6.3 gr/ft & is built on a 20lb braided Dacron core.

Could it be that the core material, combined with the mass density (gr/ft) is a contributing factor in turning over big flies?
 

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More than anything, I just enjoy catching fish on the lightest tackle I can get away with, and I suppose that is a type of purism. The beauty of becoming a swinger of flies (or a diehard dry fly person or whatever) is for me more about catching fish on your own terms, and is less about how many fish you're able to catch. Tenkara was mentioned, but I think anytime we do this, we are delving into the Japanese Zen art tradition, of art for the sake of liberating the self, not for the sake of its end product. As I recently read Modern Steelhead Flies, nowadays we have the luxury of forums like this, where information and opinions are so readily available. People who came before had to learn more experientially through trial and error, or through one on one interactions with other anglers. Those who came before them were even more limited and relied even more on self-discovery. Indeed many of us are old enough to remember fishing before the internet and were active participants. It's not that we don't still do this, but it is nice to have a resource where people can share their experiences. There's also still a certain amount of fun to be had by NOT asking and still using trial and error, which I also still do frequently. By asking for people's opinions, the poster has already decided he might not want to buy every single tip made by man. He can now read through our above opinions and decide for himself how deep he wants to go. (Pun intended)
I was born in 1969 so I had a good run before cell phones and the internet thing came along. The internet is a tremendous resource for information for the things we love and it brings us things like Speypages, online shopping for material and hardware, weather reports and river flow reports. The search for instruction is one of those things that folks are looking for as well. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time with guys older than me who taught me to tie flys, cast, tie knots, shoot guns, dress birds, weld a nice bead, load ammo, drink beer with a mouth full of Red Man without getting sick, lie to women with a straight face..............all of the things a young guy needs to know (or what these guys thought a young guy needed to know) before heading out into the world. We learned everything because some crabby old gruff thought enough of me to show me what he knew. The self discovery you mentioned happened for me under somebody's wing. The internet can never replace that. Personal trial and error is also a great journey.
 

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As you increase the size of the fly, the first thing you notice is the difficulty in casting the fly is proportionate to the size. Size includes not only physical dimensions, but bulk & weight. Eventually, becoming impossible to obtain anything even remotely resembling good turn over. Kinda like trying cast a five inch whistler on a 6x tippet.

I struggled with this a long time. Sink tips/sink rates, the different T-materials, yada, yada. And truth be told there isn't that much difference between the slowest & the fastest sink rates. We're only talking inches/second, and most of the time you have less than five or six seconds before the current brings the fly under tension. Do the math. How much deeper does that get you?

So there must be more to it than that. What am I missing? It finally dawned on me that Skagit Jedi, Ed Ward, the one who started this big fly movement, only used his own home built T-14 (MOW) tips

I found a spec sheet (no longer exists) on all the different sink tips Rio made on their web site. I also found specs on the different T materials. T-14 for example, weighs (surprise, surprise) 14 gr/ft & is built on 35 lb mono. On the other hand, compare the typical 15 ft sink tip for a 7 wt rod which weighs 95 gr, total! Or 6.3 gr/ft & is built on a 20lb braided Dacron core.

Could it be that the core material, combined with the mass density (gr/ft) is a contributing factor in turning over big flies?
Good stuff, JDJones. Not only can we learn from Ed's lines but also his approach to tying, looking for a bigger profile with less actual material. It really benefits the light tackle 'predatory trout' spey angler working both ends to their advantage (shorter lines w/ more grns/ft while designing less-water-absorbing large profile flies). Also as the rods trend lighter Ed's preference for light-wire hooks is worth considering.
 

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It takes mass to turn over mass, that was Ed's whole theory and use of T material. T14 was the heaviest stuff around at the time and needed to throw big things. The same holds true today want to throw giant streamers to pike, your not gonna do it with a 6wt. You need mass so it s gonna take a 10wt to give you the mass to turnnover 12" flies.
There is no rules but general guidelines to get one started and go from there. A 500 grn head is not going to turn over 15' of T14 and a 12" fly but but 650-700 will. Need mass to turn over mass!

Personally I never fish more than T11, it is usually on the rocks and all I need and some times too much!
 
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