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Single hand Trout Spey :
Running lines

Scientific Angler's Skagit Lite and Scandi Lite heads are available as head-only or integrated fly lines, with a coated running line permanently attached to the head. Head-only versions are attached to running lines (aka shooting lines) using loop-to-loop connections.


Mono Running Lines

Nylon monofilament is generally regarded as the best type of running line for Trout Spey applications, because it provides the best distance with light shooting heads. Mono running lines are not all made equal - they come in a wide range of profiles, diameters, breaking strain, stiffness and propensity to coil.


Excellent mono running lines for single-hand 5wt outfits include: 25 lb SA Flat Mono Absolute Shooting Line and 35 lb OPST Lazar Line. Both shoot like crazy and remain straight after a quick stretch at the beginning of a session, regardless of temperature.


The Lazar line is round in cross section and does tend to twist from casting, but can be untwisted by spinning the rod in the opposite direction when the line is on the water.


Absolute shooting line is rectangular in cross section and it does not twist.


I like 25 lb flat mono for 150 grain Skagit and 150-180 grain Hybrid heads and 35 lb Lazar line for 180 to 210 grain Skagit heads.


Integrated vs Head Only

The advantages of a continuous (integrated) fly line are:


1. One doesn’t feel the click of loop-to-loop connections passing through the rod guides when stripping close or when fighting fish.
2. The thicker running line is easier for the inexperienced to handle, especially at night.
3. Short casts made without the head completely out of the tip eye, are a little less clunky.


Disadvantages of integrated systems are:

1. They do not cast nearly as far as heads on mono running lines, especially with heads <230grains.
2. Compared to slick skinning mono, a coated running line can also feel rough, noisy and clumsy with a light Skagit head.
3. One cannot change heads without changing spools/reels.
4. They are almost twice the price (excluding the cost of the additional spool/reel).
5. They do not last as long because the running line eventually wears out just behind the head. (When a mono running line becomes worn, all one needs do is trim off a few feet and tie another loop)


Integrated Skagit systems appear to be best suited for smaller waters where distance is not an issue and stripping really close is frequently necessary. They may also be a better choice for anglers transitioning to the world of Spey who want to keep new variables to a minimum.


From the start, I had no problem using mono running lines, and I am not a fan of integrated systems for Skagit heads light enough for 5wt rods. I love the silky-smooth deft casting of a light Skagit head on a thin mono running line, and I rarely need to retrieve short Skagit heads through the rod tip.


Integrated Scandi systems are a different story. They are especially useful for catching high numbers of large trout, such as during the evening caddis hatch on the Tongariro. In this scenario, the running line to head connection does not stick in the guides as it moves in and out of the rod tip whilst fighting strong fish, which is not only annoying but also results in break-offs.


Although integrated Scandi heads do not cast as far as Scandi heads on mono running lines, distance is seldom an issue when fishing soft hackles or swinging dries. Accuracy and ability to control speed of the drift and swing are much more important.


Casts of 30 to 60 ft are easily achievable with integrated Scandi Lite Heads on 9 ft rods, which is usually more than adequate. Unnecessarily long casts with mono running lines - because we just can’t help ourselves - often result in less control of the swing, fewer takes and more missed fish.


I use both integrated and head-only Scandi Lite Heads. I like the head-only version when I need long casts to reach fish or to clear a back eddy or fast current. It is easy to hold 35 ft of light mono running line off tricky water without disturbing the head.


I also use the head-only version when I’m travelling light and don’t expect to get into a hatch or fish soft hackles. It lives in my head wallet and is easy to swop with the Skagit head when streamers are not doing the job.


The integrated Scandi Lite version is my ‘go-to’ for swinging dry flies and emerges in the dark.


Single hand Trout Spey : Getting started with a 9 ft 5wt rod

+ Getting started
+ Rods and Skagit heads
+ Sink tips for Skagit heads
+ Tippet for Skagit heads

Intermediate Skagit heads

+ Hybrid heads
+ Floating tips for Skagit heads
+ Running lines
+ Cost effective approach
+ Learning to Spey cast
+ A final word

What is Trout Spey

+ How it all began
+ What is Spey casting?
+ Fly lines
+ Sink Tips for Skagit Heads
+ Single versus two handed rods
+ Favourite Trout Spey outfits
+ Conclusions


Single Hand Skagit - Science behind the magic

+ Where it all began
+ Head design
+ Sink tips
+ Casting heavy sink tips
+ Running lines
+ Reels
+ Rods
+ Intermediate heads
+ Favourite outfits
+ Conclusions

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