Three Sink Tip Options for Winter Steelhead Swing Fishing

An increasing proportion of our winter steelhead fishing these days involves the use of two hand rods (spey or switch rods). Where winter steelhead fishing is concerned, the use of a Skagit style head and sink tip is the most common line combination we fish in winter. The Skagit head and sink tip are well suited to cast large flies, weighted flies, and water-resistant flies.

This post is intended to remind folks that there are three sources of very good sink tips that you may fish on any brand of Skagit line. These include sink tips by RIO, AIRFLO, and OPST (Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics). RIO and Airflo have been in the sink tip game for many years — OPST is a recent entrant into the sink tip producers ranks, but the folks at OPST (including Ed Ward) are well respected experts at Skagit style casting and swinging flies for steelhead and salmon.

I will note that RIO and AIRFLO offer an extensive range of sink tips in addition to the example shown in this article. I’m hoping simply to start the conversation about sink tips for Skagit head fly lines by noting that you may be confident selecting a tip offered by all three of these manufacturers, regardless of whether you fish with a Skagit head manufactured by RIO, AIRFLO, or OPST.

Three sink tips that are designed to fish on Skagit heads and cast on two hand spey or switch fly rods. At left is a RIO MOW tip. At center is an AIRFLO sink tip. At right is an OPST sink tip.

Three sink tips that are designed to fish on Skagit heads and cast on two hand spey or switch fly rods. At left is a RIO MOW tip. At center is an AIRFLO FLO sink tip. At right is an OPST Commando sink tip.

RIO MOW tips come in  versions that include a floating tip as well as a wide range of sink rates and combinations of floating, Intermediate, and sinking sections in the tip. The tip pictured here has a 2.5 ft floating butt with a 7.5 ft tip that sinks at 8-9" per second.

RIO MOW tips come in versions that include a floating tip as well as a wide range of sink rates and combinations of floating, Intermediate, and sinking sections in the tip. The tip pictured here has a 2.5 ft floating butt with a 7.5 ft tip that sinks at 8-9″ per second.

AIRFLO offers a wide range of sink tips also, including various Polyleaders, but the  tip pictured here is a FLO tip with an Intermediate-sink butt and a fast sinking tip.

AIRFLO offers a wide range of sink tips also, including various Polyleaders, but the tip pictured here is a FLO tip with an Intermediate-sink butt and a fast sinking tip.

OPST offers fewer iterations of tips for use with Skagit head fly lines but all are very specifically attuned to swinging flies on the Skagit lines. The tip featured in this photo is especially well suited for achieving a fast sink rate.

OPST offers fewer iterations of tips for use with Skagit head fly lines but all are very specifically attuned to swinging flies on the Skagit lines. The OPST Commando tip featured in this photo is especially well suited for achieving a fast sink rate.

The staff at the Caddis Fly Shop will be pleased to help you select a sink tip for use with your Skagit Head fly line set-up. Hopefully, this article will reassure you that it is perfectly reasonable to mix and match product manufacturers as you purchase additional sink tips.

Jay Nicholas – winter season 2016/17

This entry was posted in Coastal Steelhead Fishing, Fly Fishing Gear Review. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Three Sink Tip Options for Winter Steelhead Swing Fishing

  1. two dogs says:

    good article. thanks

  2. bob adams says:

    HI. I tried fishing the Colquil(?) lastyear end of season with a guide. Was lucky enough to hook up with 2 of these rockets. Not real interested in using stick bead or drift boats(can’t afford) I’m thinking there are walk in opportunities along the Colqiul or nearby streams last 2 weeks of March. Have I any hope?

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