Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Grain Weights, Scandi/Skagit Heads, and Sink Tips

Marty shows off an Airflow Scandi
Being a new angler to using a double handed rod all the tech stuff about lines and rods can be intimidating. It took me a few years to understand the mechanics of it and I’m still learning. Here’s s a bit about grain weights of Skagit and Scandinavian (Scandi) heads and how to find the right one for you and your rod.

The rod I used this summer for Steelhead fishing was the Echo, Tim Rajeff 6126 (12’6/ 6 weight). The line I used was an Airflow Scandinavian head 420 grains, 32 feet long. ( Scandinavian heads have a longer front taper to extend turnover and help achieve more distance.) Scandinavian heads are great for catching summer Steelhead on light flies on or near the surface. Water temps in the summer are warmer so a fly does not need to go down deep. Scandi heads require a longer leader to help them anchor, recommended leader by Airflow is a 12-14' Polyleader or 15' Mono leader for optimum performance.

This winter I’m using the Gary Anderson 7133 (13’3/ 7 weight) with an Airflow Compact Skagit 480 grains, 23 feet head. Other lines recommended with this rod are 480 to 510 grains. Compact Skagit heads are designed to throw big flies and sink tips in tight confined spaces, perfect for winter steelhead fishing.
Skagit lines are denser then a Scandi. The Skagit line will turn sink tips over better better then the Scandi lines

Understand that Skagit lines are designed to throw sink tips and Scandi lines are designed to throw leaders. Because some sinking poly leaders look like sink tips it is easy to confuse the two, even though they are much different. If you were to put a poly leader (even a heavy sinking) on a Skagit line the performance will be sub par. The reason is how the energy is transferred to the attached tip.

Skagit lines have very little taper and transfer energy to the sink tip with a lot of power. Since even the heaviest poly leaders are much lighter than a light sink tip, if you put a poly leader on a Skagit head the power transferred through the poly leader will “crash” down onto the water long before a sink tip would “carry” into a nice turned over fly. Vice versa, Scandi heads have a longer taper and have a much “smoother” turnover. Given that the energy is getting softer as the fly turns over, if you have a sink tip on a Scandi head the leader will just flop down instead of a full turn over.

The easiest way to tell a poly leader and a sink tip apart is that a sink tip will need to have a nail knot added to attach a leader and a poly leader will have a mono core coming out from under the coating to attach the tippet.

Here is a link to the Airflow line chart .