Skagit heads are designed to be cast with sink tips, and choice of sink tips for single-hand Skagit is yet another complex subject, wedded to the laws of physics.
My simplified sink tip recommendations for anyone starting out with a 9 ft 5wt rod and Skagit Lite head are:
150 grain Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite
1. 10 ft intermediate Scientific Anglers Sonar leader, for fishing soft hackles or lightly weighted streamers near to the surface.
2. 10 ft S6 SA Sonar leader or #5 Rio Replacement Tip, for fishing medium streamers, e.g. #6 bead head woolly bugger, closer to the bottom.
3. 7.5 ft of T8 or OPST 7.5ft bucket tip, for fishing larger weighted streamers.
180 and 210 grain Scientific Anglers Skagit Lite heads
1. 10 ft intermediate SA Sonar leader for fishing lightly weighted streamers near to the surface.
2. #6 S6 Rio Replacement Tip for fishing medium streamers, e.g. #8-6 bead head woolly buggers, closer to the bottom.
3. 9 ft of Rio T8 or T11 for fishing larger weighted streamers. A Rio iMOW light tip with 2.5 ft of intermediate and 7.5 ft of T-8, or a 10 ft Airflo T-7 FLO tip will also do the job.
Rio Replacement Tips are tapered, so presentation is better than with level-T tips, and since they are density compensated, the butt section does not sink faster than the tip, which is a drawback of fast sinking coated leaders. S6 replacement tips sink at 6-7 inches per second. For more on these versatile sink tips check out my review on Rio Replacement Tips.
Scientific Anglers 6 Sonar Leaders cast exceptionally well with brilliant presentation on light Skagit heads and, while they don’t sink quite as fast as S6 Replacement Tips, they are not far behind. Because S6 Sonar Leaders are stiffer, lighter and the coating extends all the way to the tip, they cast and sink better than similar products from other brands.
Although Replacement Tips and Sonar Leaders produce great presentation with small to medium streamers, they don’t have the power of level-T sink tips to turn over large weighted flies.
Larger weighted flies and Level-T tips are often required to get down to fish. Examples of larger flies include 2.5-3 inch rabbit streamers with 5mm brass beads and lead underbodies, medium tube flies with tungsten cones, or small intruders with lead eyes.
Level-T sink tip material consists of a braided core with a level tungsten impregnated coating, and is used to produce custom tips of a desired length. The T-value indicates the number of grains per foot.
I especially like Rio level-T material because it is extremely durable and easy to weld loops with heat shrink tubing (available from Rio) and a hair straightener or heat gun - it comes in 30 ft lengths. Alternatively, the Rio 10 ft full sinking light and medium MOW tips are essentially 10 ft of T-8 or T-11, respectively, so you could buy one of these and trim off 5 inches at a time until you find the longest length that works for you.
Longer is usually better in New Zealand, but level-T tips longer than the rod are difficult to cast - so don’t go much longer than 9 ft.
Although the iMOW and FLO Tips mentioned above are 10 ft long, they both have 2.5 ft intermediate butt sections, and level-T sections that are only 7.5 ft long.
Single hand Trout Spey : Getting started with a 9 ft 5wt rod
|+||Rods and Skagit heads|
|+||Sink tips for Skagit heads|
|+||Tippet for Skagit heads|
|+||Floating tips for Skagit heads|
|+||Cost effective approach|
|+||Learning to Spey cast
|+||A final word
Single Hand Skagit - Science behind the magic
|+||Where it all began|
|+||Casting heavy sink tips|