Sink Tip Options expanded!

If you fish a Spey or Switch rod like I do, I bet there are times when you get confused by the wide variety of sink tips that you may choose among.

I fish tips by RIO, AIRFLO, and OPST, the latter option is one only available in the last few months and many readers may not be aware of.

I also normally carry at least a dozen tips when I’m steelhead swing fishing, but rather than going into all of these, I’d rather note three tips that I consider ESSENTIAL to the swing angler. Brand is a matter of opinion, personal history, and our personality quirks, which for most of us anglers are many.

If forced to choose three tips to carry when winter steelhead fishing I would choose as follows:

OPST – T-14 (riffle, run, and bucket tips).

AIRFLO – FLO tips at T-10; T-14; and T-18

RIO – MOW 10 ft T-14; 10 ft T-11, and iMOW T-11 (2.5 ft I + 7.5 ft T-11)

The following is provided by Ben Paull of OPST – thanks Ben.


OPST now offers Commando Tips, completing your Pure Skagit system from hook to reel. It’s a fact that not every hole calls for the fastest, heaviest sink tip. Riffles and shallower runs are extremely important too, especially in high water. In such conditions a shallower, yet still level, sink is the way to go. Commando Tips will make you a more complete angler by allowing you to choose, within a grain weight, from between three different sink rates: Riffle, Run and Bucket, for shallow, medium and deep water. Our tips are 12 feet long to enhance water load and prevent blown anchors, and come with strong welded loops at both ends for easy rigging. The rear ends come with color-coded line IDs to identify both grain weight and sink rate. 96 Grains are looped with Yellow, 132 grains with Light Blue, and 168 Grains are Tan. Within those three grain weights are the three sink rates (Riffle, Run, and Bucket) for each weight. See the image below.

Those familiar with MOW tips will be able to choose from three different grain weights: 96 grain, 132 grain and 168 grain, (T8, T11 and T14 grains per foot) for use on 2 weight switch rods up to 9 weight two handers.

You will notice that the designations are S2/3, S5/6, etc- meaning the back half of the line is a Type 2 (2 inches per second), and the front half is a Type 3 (3 inches per second). This produces a straighter sink to the fly and reduces the belly effect that occurs in level sink tips. Here are the specifications:

96 Grain, 12 foot (T8):

132 grain, 12 foot (T11):

168 Grain, 12 foot (T14):

Rod Size: 2-6

Rod Size: 5-8

Rod Size: 7-10

Color: Yellow

Color: Light Blue

Color: Tan

Riffle: S2/3

Riffle: S2/3

Riffle: S2/3

Run: S3/4

Run: S5/6

Run: S5/6

Bucket: S5/6

Bucket: S8/9

Bucket: S8/9


Tyler Allen of Rajeff Sports provided the following – thank you Tyler.


AIRFLO provides several different sink tip options:

 CCT (Custom Cut Tips):

            10 ft and 18 ft: T7, T10, T14, T18. Looped one one end. Level diameter, single density. #30 core.

            20 ft: 220 gr (T11), 330 gr (T16.5), 470 gr (T23.5). Looped at both ends. Level diameter, single density. #30 core. Can be cut into two tips.


10 ft: T7, T10, T14, T18. Looped at one end. 2.5 ft of intermediate (1.5 ips) material mated to 7.5 ft of level-sink material. #30 core. Helps to create a shallower hinge angle and keep your fly from getting caught on the stream bottom.  

 Sinking-density Polyleaders: Tapered design for improved turnover. Built on abrasion-resistant mono core.

            Salmon/Steelhead: #24 core. Extra-strong version (#40 core) is available in all densities, 10 ft. length only.

Intermediate (1.5 ips), 5 ft., 10 ft. and 14 ft.

Slow Sink (2.6 ips), 5 ft., 10 ft.

Fast Sink (3.9 ips), 5 ft., 10 ft. and 14 ft.

Super Fast Sink (4.9 ips), 5 ft., 10 ft. and 14 ft.

Extra Super Fast Sink (6.1 ips), 5 ft., 10 ft. and 14 ft.


RIO offers MOW, iMOW, and both 10 ft and 15 ft sink tips. MOW tips that have options for combining floating and sinking material – and iMOW tips that have options for combining intermediate and sinking material.


Summary: three manufacturers offer a great range of sink tip options for the swing angler – you are sure to find great choices for the water you will fish. Drop by the Caddis Fly and discuss your local fishing challenges if you would like help selecting a few of the most likely sink tips to suit your needs.

I apologize for barely touching on these sink tip options here, but would be willing to help anyone who calls or emails me to get more detailed advice.

Jay Nicholas – 14 September 2016

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