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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    55º 44.3’N 003º 43.4’W

    Default Skagit -Putting it all together

    Although popular in the US, Skagit style fishing is slowly becoming more popular here in the UK. Basically it is a short heavy floating head that is used to carry fast sinking tips and large flies. Due to the weight of this set-up it is necessary to alter your casting style so that you do not overload your rod. Sustained anchor/waterborne anchor casts such as double spey , snap T, etc are used as a single spey or overhead cast may have disastrous results. A more through actioned rod and/or a more heavily constructed rod is ideal for Skagit.

    This is what all the fuss is all about!

    Due to the thickness of a Skagit head it if difficult to find material to make your own head, so you will have to buy one. At the moment only a few manufacturers such as Rio and Airflo market them. You can see how thick they are by comparing a #12 Double Taper (Top) with a #10/11 Guideline Floating Head (Middle) and a 650 grain Skagit (Bottom)

    Skagit Tips

    The main principle of Skagit is to cast large flies on heavy tips. You can use standard 15ft tips, use lengths of level sinking line such as T8, T11, T14, T17 or the latest product from Rio which is a set of MOW Tips.

    The 3 sets of MOW tips keep the tip length the same, regardless of how long the sinking section is. The majority of MOW tips are 10 ft long and feature a combination of floating and sinking line:-

    1. 10 ft floating tip
    2. 7.5 ft of floating line seamlessly integrated into 2.5 ft of sinking tip
    3. 5 ft of floating line seamlessly integrated into 5 ft of sinking tip
    4. 2.5 ft of floating line seamlessly integrated into 7.5 ft of sinking tip
    5. 10 ft level sinking tip.
    6. 12.5 ft level sinking tip

    The Heavy MOW tips use T-14 in all sinking sections. The Medium MOW tips use T-11 and the Light MOW tips use T-8 for all sinking sections. As a guideline, Heavy MOW Tips are best on Skagit line of 575 grains and heavier, with the Medium MOW Tips most suitable for Skagit lines between 475 and 575 grains and the Light MOW Tips being most ideal on Skagit lines lighter than 475 grains.

    These MOW tips retail in the US for about $150 and are not available in the UK. However here is how to make a set of you own.

    Here is some items that you may or may not need to make your tips.

    Making a Loop in the Floating Section

    So, for my 650 grain Skagit Head I am going to use T14 for the sinking part and a mill end double taper #12 for the floating sections. T14 weighs 14 grains per foot so 30 foot of T14 weighs 420gr. Using the AFTMA scale at 30 feet as a rough guide then 420gr falls in between a #12 at 380gr and a #13 at 450gr.

    Normally when looping thick bodied lines such as shooting heads a length of running line is attached to form a small loop. However it is best to join PVC coated lines to PVC running line and PU lines to PU running Line. The problem comes with mill ends etc whereby you may not know the construction so if you are unsure then it is easy to cut of few small sections from the end tapers to form the loops. This way you are sure of joining like with like.

    Cut approx. 10foot of parallel line leaving a bevel at one end.

    Prepare your loop

    Slide over the clear heat shrink tubing. Note the bevel on the loop ends is such that the short side is to the inside. This would appear to be wrong but actually it seals in the core.

    I use a portable gas soldering iron with a hot air tip and diffuser. It is small enough to be carried in you tackle bag.

    Apply the heat taking care not to burn the line.

    Keep rotating the line until you see it fusing together

    Roll the line on a hard surface taking care not to burn your fingers. Re-heat any sections as necessary.

    One fused together it should look something like this.

    Cut and peel back the heat shrink tubing which not only squeezed the plasticised line together but formed a heat shield and prevented over heating of the line.

    Here is one welded loop.

    Place a small piece of heat shrink tubing over the other end, heat and roll to form a blunt taper.

    Cut and peel back the heat shrink tubing.

    Insert a felting or darning needle through the blunt taper and out through the wall of the line after about an inch.

    Work the needle in and out to form enough space to either pull through some mono or in this case a tapered leader. I prefer to use a tapered leader as it “dovetails” the line together and is better for presentation with the floating tip.

    Roughen the mono to form a key for the glue.

    Apply a dab of Zap-A-Gap to the end of the mono.

    Pull through and clean off any excess glue. I know you are relying on an inch of glue but this is the way they have been doing it in the states for years. If you have any doubt then use a loop to loop connection.

    Finished 10ft Floating head with integrated tapered leader.

    Joining the Floating Section to the Sinking Section

    Form a blunt taper in one end.

    Insert a felting or darning needle through the blunt taper and out through the wall of the line after about an inch.

    Strip the coating from the T14 using Acetone (Nail Varnish Remover)to reveal the mono core and roughen the end using sandpaper to form a key. Insert a bobbin threader into the line and pull the mono through.

    Apply a dab of Zap-A-Gap to the end of the mono.

    Pull through and clean off any excess glue.

    Finished Sink Tip. Now make up the remainder of the set.

    Making a Loop in the End of the Sinking Section

    Because the T14 has a mono core it is difficult to weld loops in it without using an oven thermometer to set the temperature of the heat source. You can buy a braided loop or make your own using a bobbin threader.

    Apply a dab of Zap-A-Gap to the end of the protruding braid.

    Pull through the end.

    Insert the T14.

    Whip the join.

    Apply some flexible adhesive.

    Finished sinking tip.

    Full set similar to the MOW tips for a fraction of the price!

    Making a Loop to Join your Leader.
    There are many ways to make a loop in the end of the sinking sections but I prefer the Perfection Knot. Strip the coating from the T14 using Acetone (Nail Varnish Remover)to reveal the mono core and tie as follows:-

    Form a single loop by bringing the tag end behind the standing part of leader. The tag should be on the right-hand side.

    Form a second, smaller loop in front of the first by bringing the tag end in front of and then behind the first loop. End with the tag on the right again.

    Pass the tag end between the loops and hold in place.

    Pull the second loop through the first loop. Make sure tag end does not slip out of position. Tighten by pulling on second loop and standing part of leader.

    Tighten to form the Loop.

    The correct way to form a Loop to Loop Connection.

    Not quite as good!

    The Complete Set Up.

    There are probably quite a few errors in the above post which I will edit when I have a little more spare time.


  2. #2


    Contributions like this Neil are simply superb. I know how long this will have taken you to compile, thank you very much

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    55º 44.3’N 003º 43.4’W


    Thanks Alan,

    I am looking forward to trying this set up out on a Century Stealth

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    East Lothian


    Fantastic stuff - thank you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009


    Thanks for sharing this pal.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009


    brilliant ,thanks for taking the time and sharing ,,,think this has earned a place is the great thread ,thread ,,

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009


    superb post,im definately going to give it a go,i wonder how many lines i will ruin before i get one right

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Ballina, Co Mayo

    Default Skagit - Putting it all together

    An excellent tutorial , at a very high standard.......congratulations....

    much appreciated....
    Grey Monkey
    So ! what part of the river has the "game" angler nominated as a sanctuary for all

    fish?. The spawning streams/ rivers ? the headwaters ? the upper stretches ? the middle

    stretches , the lowers stretches ? the tidal stretches ?.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009


    Not a style I'm likely to adopt - but this is a fantastically informative and clear set of information.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Fantastic post, really excellent. Thanks for all the effort.
    What to do? Stay green.
    Never mind the machine,
    Whose fuel is human souls
    Live large, man, and dream small.

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