Spey Sink Tips Review Part 1 – Introduction to Rio and Airflo

Sink tips for Spey fishing Part I: Introduction

Well now, here it is - January already, with fall salmon season winding down, and Winter steelhead trickling into our coastal rivers here in Oregon. Many of us are dusting off our Spey rods and winding on new lines to begin the season, while others are just shifting our summer for winter lines. This season presents a larger than usual range of choices in the sink tips we have available to fish on Spey lines. I’m guessing that most of us will be un-looping those floating and intermediate tips, rummaging around for sink tips to fish swifter, colder waters.

Decision time. What will we stuff into our tip-wallet next time we head to the river this season? Here is a comprehensive review of the sink tip options we have at our summons as we slip into 2013.

Product offerings by Rio and Airflo. Both of these manufacturers have a proven on-river reputation and both will serve you well. This first post (Part 1) will serve only to note key sink-tip products on the market now, and note similarities between Rio and Airflo. The next post (Part 2) will review The Rio Brand of sink tips, followed by a final post (Part 3) that reviews Airflo’s sink tip options. Part 1 is your table of contents, if you will, of some great contemporary sink tip options.

RIO MOW Tips – Unique to Rio and including a new T-17 extra heavy option, there is no Airflo Equivalent.

Rio iMow Tips: New for 2013 and unique to Rio, there is no Airflo Equivalent.

Rio Level Tungsten Material – The Airflo Custom Cut Tips (CCT) 10 ft & 18 ft is a very similar product, looped at one or both ends, in 10 ft, 18 ft or 20 ft lengths, instead of the 30 ft raw, un-looped length offered by Rio.

The Tungsten coated material from Rio is laid over a mono core while the Tungsten material offered by Airflo as CCTs is laid over a braided core.  Spey anglers who are prone to construct welded loops should choose the Airflo Product, because heat-welding will go far more smoothly with the braided core than with the mono core material.  Both Rio and Airflo offer pretty fast sink rates as the norm with Level T material, and both are a good choice when fishing heavier Skagit lines and big flies.

Rio Spey VersiLeadersAirflo Polyleaders are very similar to this Rio Product. Both are looped on one end and have a bare mono tip to attach your tippet at the other end; both are offered in a wide variety of sink rates, both have a monofilament core rated at #24 Lb, and both are well suited to Switch and Light Spey rod applications.

The key difference between these two products is that the Versileaders are level, and the floating Versileader is an olive opaque fly line material.  Polyleaders are clear in floating, Hover, and Intermediate sink rates, and are tapered instead of being level.

Rio Replacement 15’ Sink Tips: The Airflo equivalent is their Spare 15 ft Sink Tips
that also have a loop at one end, offer virtually the same sink rates, and are line class/wt rated as Type 3 (3-4 ips), Type 6 (6-7 ips), and Type 8 (8-9 ips) in line classes from about 6 to 12. Rio 15 ft tips are labeled and coded; Airflo 15 ft tips are coded for size also. Rio offers a wider wt range range of this product. The heavier wt classes of this product are ideal for fishing on Skagit lines over about 510 gr. and the lighter end of the product line fish well on switch rods and on Spey rods using heads under about 510 gr.

Rio Replacement 10’ Sink Tips: This length is unique to Rio, there is no Airflo Equivalent. Essentially a shorter version of the 15 ft Replacement tips offered by both Rio and Airflo.

Sink tip kits: both Rio and Airflo offer a variety of tip selections or tip kits at a savings with a tip wallet included. These offer convenience, adaptability, and savings. Rio kits are available for MOWs, Versileaders, and Replacement 15 ft tips.

Airflo kits are available for PolyLeaders, and Spare 15 ft Sink Tips.

I hope this bare-bones list helps set the stage for a more thorough review of Spey Sink Tips: Part 2 and Part 3. At the very least, it should provide a short summary of sink tip options from Rio and Airflo that I believe are worthy of your consideration as the New Year unfolds.

End Part 1: Spey Sink Tips Review
Jay Nicholas, December 2012

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