How I Get My Flies Down;

Hardyreels

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This is a long one fellows and the video isn't a short one either. I have been ask to bring this thread back to life and am doing so :cool:

The weights cited in the text and drawings can be lightened based on the grain weight of your line. For instance a 575 grain line will have trouble throwing 4 foot of T-14 or T-17 but an 800 grain line will send it across a river just swell. You'll get what I mean as you read the article I hope. And once more I get to show off those drawings of mine :cool:

What I am going to propose to the readers here may or may not be a new concept to you. You may have read post from me at any time over the years about how I rig my lines for streamer fishing. I am quite sure I am not the only fly fisherman who uses this method but I can say that I've never came across a detailed article regarding how and why it works. Something else I should mention is that it is not my intention to 'convert' people to this way of doing the job, I don't sell leaders and am not affiliated with anyone who does. It's just a way of doing things that I stumbled into and then fine tuned over the past 25 years.

How you sink your line or fly is a big thing to consider. This is true whether you use a Spey rod or a single hand rod when swinging streamers / Spey type flies / salmon flies. It seems an ever growing array of lines are being produced to meet this need doesn’t it? What I am going to describe is a method I took up in 1994 and continue to use today. Prior to developing my skills with the system I will describe as best I can to you, I carried either extra spools or reels to meet certain conditions. The most economical aspect of the system is that it eliminates the need to purchase spare spools and the expensive sinking lines we would put on them.

Before you read on and before I continue writing there’s something to get out of the way first. We’ve all heard someone tell us, “If you aren’t getting snagged and losing flies you aren’t doing it right” or some version of that philosophy haven’t we? I hope you’ll have an open mind and understand that I don’t take offense when someone says that to me. I also will trust that you will not take umbrage when I say that I do not enjoy becoming snagged every sixth or seventh cast. I really don’t like losing my flies and I think one of the most ridiculous things I can see while I’m out fishing is someone who, every time I glance in their direction is tugging and bouncing with their rod due to being stuck on the bottom. Honestly, I don’t care how many fish that fellow may catch, there are no fish worth that level of frustration to me that would compel me to do it. I have been there, I have tied slinky’s to my expensive fly lines and my 400 dollar rods all the way back in the 1980’s. It didn’t last long, not at all, a few hours and I'd had enough. I love to fish and better yet I live for days when not one thing can bring a foul word from my mouth, heavy weights combined with heavy sinking heads will make you curse. Me, I’ll settle for a few less fish and a curse free day. I'm a fly fisherman and I don't spend a lot of time tugging, rod bending or leader popping because I'm stuck to the bottom as if I were fishing bait with a sinker. There, I said it, Now you know where I'm coming from so let’s continue.

Anyone who has fly fished using both a floating fly line and a sinking line knows that these are two different worlds when it comes to casting. Two things (although there may be others) stand out when you make the switch from floater to sinker or sink tip line. Most sink tips have a 15’ section spliced and molded onto the front of a floating line and these are much more common than full sinking lines to most of us I believe. Let’s look at fishing a streamer with a floating line first. Rather than to expand on this I will supply this link to a thorough article on this topic here; Fishing - Controling The Submerged Fly; I’ll wait here while you read and absorb that.

I think we can all agree that casting is easier with floating lines. You are able to swing your fly until it hangs straight downstream and then sweep up the rod and a significant length of fly line to re-cast without too much effort, correct? Now when you put on that 15 foot type 6 or Hi Density tip things will become a lot different. You will notice that in overhead casting the sink tip will not only feel different but in most cases it will fly further when you let her go. I was always a fan of that added distance on the forward cast. I started with a sink tip line in 1979 and believe they were just being introduced around that time. Prior to that I had a full sink as my wet fly line but we’re talking sink tips and I digress. Aside from that presumed added distance on your delivery cast there is a minor amercement involved with using a sink tip line. You’ll no doubt notice straight away that it sure won’t sweep up with the same ease as your floater will it? When using a sink tip I customarily I had to strip in a great deal of my fly line prior to re-casting. Now if you are catching a fish every other time that you are dragging the fly back upstream I won’t tell you not to do it. I myself have caught so few by that means over the past 4 ½ decades that I found it to be almost punitive to have to strip in all that line for every cast. Please bear in mind I have never been much of a Stillwater fly fisherman where this stripping action can be of premier benefit, I fish streams & rivers primarily.

Enough of the buildup; how do I get away fishing my streamers and salmon flies without using a sinking line per say? I use small sections of various sinking materials in the middle portion of my leaders. I have talked about this in the past but this writing is meant to lay out the specifics of ‘How, Why, and when I make the decision of what length and weight per inch of the material I utilize in any and all fishing situations. When I first took up fishing using a 13 foot Spey rod I fell for the sink tip trap. I thought fishing with a Spey rod was a whole new thing, wrong! It's all the same, but let me explain what happened. I bought a Scientific Anglers 55' mid belly Multi Tip Line. I used that line for an entire season and by June of the following year I was so frustrated with my lack of improvement as a Spey caster that I was at my wits ends. It was at that time, camped on a river here in Alaska which was full of salmon, however I was struggling so much with my casting that the fun index was at a very low point. I waded back to shore where I had a chair unfolded and took a seat. Quite disgusted at that moment I was questioning whether or not I could do this. Of course the long rod had its advantages and not all casts were complete failures but something was wrong. As I sat there my gaze fell on the boat and in it sat my old tackle bag. Why not, I thought, why not use the same leaders and lead heads I’ve been using since 1994 on my single hand rods? It should work! To the boat I went and retrieved my old bag and within a few minutes I had tied some Perfection loops into some mono for a butt and for a tippet. The center section which is a weighted line comes with a braided loop on each end and ready to go so no work there. I threw a leader together having a 48” braided lead head from Beartooth Montana fishing products. I had bought a bunch of them at a going out of business sale back in late 1993 or early 94 and had used them with great success on PA. & CO. streams and rivers until I left for AK. ten years ago. The difference was realized immediately, I could cast without my line stuck in the water like cement. That was 2011 and I never looked back. Prior to taking up the Spey rod I had used these leader sections on my single hand rods but somehow thought / believed a Spey rod was different. No they are not!

I will try to explain how this works and why I believe it is (for some) perhaps the best way to fish submerged streamers on any fly rod with a floating line opposed to sink tip lines. When we use a sink tip line or attach a tip directly to the floating line it sinks. The problem is that not only does the length of the sinking Tungsten line sink but because it is spliced directly to your floating line it will tend to pull the floater under as well. At first just a few feet of the floating tip and as the line is used hour after hour you may see as much as the first ten to 15 feet of your floating line going subsurface too and I don’t mean by an inch or two. I can’t be alone in this observation can I? If you have already read my writing on fishing and controlling the submerged fly then you know that the mainstay of fishing them is to have, and to maintain control by mending with the floating line. It is Simply a fact that the more of your line that is beneath the surface the more difficult it will be to affect control over the fly itself.

Now let us use the mind’s eye to envision something different. You have a good quality floating line and have kept it clean and dressed with a product tailored for this purpose. That line floats very well and when you have allowed it to make a complete downstream swing it has barely went beneath the surface on you. Somehow you felt confident that you had your fly swimming deep enough to attract a strike had there been a willing fish there. How’d you do that? If you are doing what I do, you had between 5 and 6 feet of 30 pound monofilament attached to the end of the floating line. Looking at the simple illustration below follow this concept from the floating line to your fly.


Your long mono butt has very little resistance to being dragged under the water unlike your hi floating fly line and can be taken down using significantly less than 15 feet of sinking line. This is due to mono having a higher specific gravity than water, it'll sink on its own. When you attach any form of weight to monofilament it will sink quickly & readily. When you attach a 4 foot (or longer / shorter) section of T material to the end of the mono butt section that weighted line with a much higher specific gravity than water will take the mono down & do so rapidly without disturbing the floating vinyl coated fly line to any great degree. Your line stays up better and longer on every swing while the fly and the leader find the fish.

You’ll notice that you have a length of tippet material which due to its reduced size offers even better sinking properties than the 30 pound butt. If you chose to attach a weighted fly such as a cone head or similar to the tippet it too will have a propensity to sink. Depending on the length and weight of your weighted leader section you can determine how fast and how deep the fly and tippet will sink. You can mix these combinations up as follows: a heavier section of T material like T-14 and an un-weighted fly will allow you to put the leader at or very near the bottom while the fly should maintain its course slightly higher in the water thus avoiding possible snagging. Conversely you may chose to go with 5 feet of T 8 or 11 and use a fly with a weighted head or cone. These decisions are made site by site taking into account the velocity of the flow and it's depth. Slower water allows for even more choice in how to rig and swifter flows dictate heavier leaders and perhaps flies also. Capisci ?

Because the sink tip is not connected directly to the floating line your ability to mend and control that line right down to the tip is greatly enhanced. By spending just a very short time observing your leader & fly at close range while counting seconds you can easily ascertain how quickly the unit as a whole is reaching a known or perceived depth. I gotta ask; are you getting this or is it confusing :confused:

Now if, and that is the key operative word here ‘if’ you have been focusing on reducing drag on your floating line as discussed in the article about fishing & controlling the submerged fly, you are getting the hang of allowing your fly to reach its maximum potential depth. You are reaching this depth without the fly being moved to the surface by excessive drag formed by the bow in the line caused by current, or by overzealous line movements made by you the fisherman. When you combine good line management & control habits with a mental awareness of how the fly is being sunk and at what rate, you are able to present your fly where the fish will see it. My observations on fly control using this type sink system are as follows: because the mono butt section has very little resistance to the water it readily will react quickly to any change of direction imparted to the tip of the floating fly line via you and your various mends for directional control. Because the weighted section is at the very longest, 6 feet, it will also react readily to being directed by the fly line and the fly and lighter tippet follow suite. You can judge quite well what your fly is doing directionally simply by looking at the end of your floating line, because it's floating :) it don't get much simpler than that, no more guess work, you can become adept at knowing what's happening underwater. I once wrote that "until you are in control of your line and fly in an active fashion, you are just standing there holding the cork". There are times when I just hold the cork, but it's nice to believe that you can impart some action and control if you deem it appropriate don't you agree?

Regardless of what you use to sink a fly there will always be a section of water so swift – so deep that nothing short of a 1 ounce bell sinker will reach the bottom. These areas in my personal view were not, and are not meant to be fished with traditional fly gear and so I don’t bother with such water while fishing. That isn’t to say that I don’t swing through it as far down as I can get to see if there are fish willing to play nearer the surface, I just don’t try to feel the bottom nor am I obsessed with the notion that I must.

If or when you adapt to this system of fishing with your streamers you will notice how much easier it is to bring a 2 – 3 – 4 or 5 foot length of T line up to the surface for re-casting than it is to strip in a 15 foot sink tip to a manageable length. Part of the strategy and technique of fishing wet flies is to cover as much water with each successive cast as possible while continually moving the cast and swinging fly down the stream channel. Once you have adapted a means to do this without time spent pulling in half your line before re-casting you are fishing more. This ability is also very helpful when you locate a fish that taps or bumps your fly during the swing but fails to get hooked. If you are able to cast again without significantly shortening your line it is simple to repeat your exact cast both in placement and length of swing / arc. I have to ask again; are you getting this concept? Is this making sense? God, I hope so because it took forever to compose to this point :D What I just told you is the best method I have found to produce a ‘come back’ strike from a trout – salmon or steelhead. ie; Knowing that your fly is taking exactly the same course through the stream because you were able to sweep up your line to cast without stripping in. This allows for you to duplicate any cast or to shorten it by a foot or two before throwing it back out. I generally go shorter by a foot or 2 because I've seen countless fish return to the same area but a tad further up channel when they stop, then drifting back to find their sweat spot in the current. The important thing is I have essentially the correct length of line before I even cast again.......

In the diagram, all of the connections are made via loop to loop splices.

If your fly line came with a welded loop you may want to consider the braided connector demonstrated in this thread; (I will create a thread with this demo very soon for this forum) Sorry about the link but it went to another forum.
If you are currently carrying extra spools or reels to accommodate changing between floating lines and sinking lines the method I have attempted to explain may be useful in lightening your load. If you are currently using multi tip lines – sinking leaders like polly leaders that attach directly to your line and essentially do the same thing as a sink tip ie; drag the floating line under and protest when you need to sweep them from the water to re-cast, this may be helpful to you too.

A quick recap: I’m not saying it’s right for everyone but it works for me. I determine how much and what weight section of T material to add to my leader based on best guess in regard to current and average depth of water fished. If I run into a shallow run and have 5 foot of T-17 in my rig, I cast more quartered down and across and I hold the tip back toward upstream to create drag enough to keep my fly from snagging. When I come into a run averaging 6 feet deep I cast straight across and use the mending and following technique described in the Fishing the submerged fly article. Pretty simple, it’s actually a trigonometry exercise, angular velocity is what you are trying to solve for. If you are mathematically inclined you can easily create an equation for what we are trying to do if that will help you in grasping the meaning of this entire article.

I will put together a ‘How To’ thread for making your own T sections if there is a need, you could I assume find a video on-line easier though 

Here's the thread with the video implanted > Streamer Techniques

Ard
 
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Torrish

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An excellent article Ard and thanks for posting this. I will be certainly be giving this a try out. I am a firm believer in "If you haven't tried it, don't knock it"

Anything that will make things a bit easier are welcome.
 
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salmonshrimp

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Interesting article we used to tie a swivel in many years a go to have the same effect, long before polyleaders and home made tiips etc. Not sure I like braided loops though, as they are too visible in the water for me and could spook some fish, but that's just me.

Think I might just try it out though :)
 
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apd13

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Photo

Hi Ard,
Great thread again and thanks for going to the trouble. A photo of the set up would be really helpful if possible?

I will try this method for sure.
 

Hardyreels

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Interesting article we used to tie a swivel in many years a go to have the same effect, long before polyleaders and home made tiips etc. Not sure I like braided loops though, as they are too visible in the water for me and could spook some fish, but that's just me.

Think I might just try it out though :)

About those braided loops; I had my trepidations about them myself. However, if you think about things as they 'should' happen when you are working / swinging a fly to the lie of a salmon something may become evident.

Provided you are in a position upstream from your target as most of us are when we have a specific area in mind that we feel may produce a fish the fly should be what that fish sees. In other words, unless you have made a cast way too long and are allowing your entire leader to pass through water yet unexplored with the fly, having a braided loop on a section of T-11 in the mid section of that leader should not be a problem. If we are swinging the leader and those braided loops right into a fish then it would serve to reason that the fly will be passing behind the fish. Point being that if we carefully extend each cast and swing so that we are so to say, leading with the fly, the loops don't matter.

There is another reason I am using them also. About 6 or 7 seasons ago I had some sink tip material T-14 I think it was, which had welded loops on each end fixed onto a leader. While the material was dark brown and suited my sense of camouflage quite well, the material is soft and after several fish it became cut by the mono loop in the leader. The braided loops are a trade off between their being more visible in the water and their being much tougher than a welded loop in sink tip (T) material.

I had used the braided lead heads for years but finally made the switch to the materials sold by Rio and others just 3 seasons back. What I found was that more fellows would try it because they accepted the material which has been incorporated into sink tip lines since the late seventies. The braided lead heads were just too strange for folks to warm up to I guess. I must admit I like the versatility of the vinyl coated tungsten products better. I believe they turn over a bit better in the cast.

As an example, the leader being cast in the picture below has a 6 1/2 foot piece of T-9 in it. The rod is 15' long and the total leader length was 15'. The fly attached was a weighted tube Wilkinson Sunray.



The picture was taken from far away and cropped so it is a bit grainy but....... If you look careful at the end of the vinyl fly line you can see a definite white spot rising above the water. That is the braided connector between my line and leader. The line is a custom made 45 foot Scandi with integrated running line, it weighs 600 grains. That 600 grain line will rip up a leader as I describe being used and sent it and the weighted tube 100 feet out on that river and turn the leader very nicely. This photo is the only evidence I can show you regarding whether or not you will be able to cast a rig like I am describing.

If you were to rig the way I am doing 'and' combine the sinking leader with the techniques for line and fly control discussed in the other thread you may find that it not only will work but will eliminate the need for extra spools - lines and a multitude of different tips etc. All I carry are a spool of 30 Lb. a spool of 15 Lb. and a few extra sections of T material if I expect conditions to change on a trip. If I am fishing the same river all day or multiple days there is no need to change anything at all provided I have made the correct choice in rigging a sinking section into the leader suited to the depth and speed of the water.

Do remember, whether using this approach or any other that when choosing the length and weight of your sink tip you need the proper mass in the fly line to carry it and to turn it over correctly.

I'll check back in later but must go work on my boats while the weather is good. With a bit of effort I'll be out to catch a few fish this weekend :cool:
 

salmonshrimp

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Thanks for the reply, I will definately try it because it sounds like a great idea.

I should have explained a bit more about the braided leaders.
For perhaps 30 years I have whipped my own loops even before braided leaders existed. A couple of years ago I broke a factory loop on a fly line and replaced it with a standard clear nylon braided leader. When I went to the river I was horrified that i could see the leader from 20 or 30 yards without my glasses. Being so used to whipped loops, which blended into the fly lines, it stuck out like a sore thumb in the clear waters of the Ness.

My train of thought is if I can see it from 20 yards then a fish can see it from 10ft or more (normal leader length), trailing behind the fly. This could spook some fish, and perhaps make them turn away from the fly. I've always been of the view that in salmon fishing you have to optimise your chances in every area of your tackle and techniques. So for me braided leaders are too visible in the clear water.

Having said that I am going to try something.
 
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apd13

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Good Point

Thanks for the reply, I will definately try it because it sounds like a great idea.

I should have explained a bit more about the braided leaders.
For perhaps 30 years I have whipped my own loops even before braided leaders existed. A couple of years ago I broke a factory loop on a fly line and replaced it with a standard clear nylon braided leader. When I went to the river I was horrified that i could see the leader from 20 or 30 yards without my glasses. Being so used to whipped loops, which blended into the fly lines, it stuck out like a sore thumb in the clear waters of the Ness.

My train of thought is if I can see it from 20 yards then a fish can see it from 10ft or more (normal leader length), trailing behind the fly. This could spook some fish, and perhaps make them turn away from the fly. I've always been of the view that in salmon fishing you have to optimise your chances in every area of your tackle and techniques. So for me braided leaders are too visible in the clear water.

Having said that I am going to try something.

Good point, the ones I saw Ard make up in a previous post were green or brown? I only have white so will get the permanent marker pen out. :D
 

sneakypeter

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Tried this leader setup today, but with a 30lb braid joining the line to the T17 rather than mono(didn,t have any!!), it worked a treat, hooked three fish, 2 came adrift, but it casts nicely, I,am certainly no expert, but it casts as well as a full length tip, but a tad easier, nice one Ard.
peter
 

Hardyreels

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Hi Peter,

I've not used braided line from fly line to T material but if it works I guess it works. If you can pick up some #30 mono for the butt you may like it better. I've been using lighter sink material but in longer sections with good results. They seem to cast better than shorter heavier sections do.

Ard
 

apd13

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Braid

Tried this leader setup today, but with a 30lb braid joining the line to the T17 rather than mono(didn,t have any!!), it worked a treat, hooked three fish, 2 came adrift, but it casts nicely, I,am certainly no expert, but it casts as well as a full length tip, but a tad easier, nice one Ard.
peter
Peter, well done on the fish. Where were you fishing?
I have made a couple of these rigs up that Ard's illustration shows.

I had trouble finding 30lb Maxima so I went with an alternative that I found here's the link if you're after some. Daiwa Sensor Monofil

I'm hoping to try it out the weekend.
 

angleronnie

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T-14 etc?

Please excuse my ignorance[lack of knowledge] but what are the T14, T15, T9,etc etc? referred to in the above very interesting discussions?
 

angleronnie

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understanding dawning

Hi Ronnie,
They are different sink tips IPS inches per second how quickly they sink.
This link may give you more info.

Airflo Fly Lines - Spey - Custom Cut Tips

Many thanks, I'm starting to comprehend now. These sinking tips are sold in 20 foot lengths of various sink speeds and the proposed set-up cuts them into suitable lengths-- ie 4foot as in the first diagram.
 

Hardyreels

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For those who will experiment with this set up there are 2 really important things to bear in mind. Number one is that the concept of using at least 5 foot if not 6 foot of heavy mono butt material is a 2 fold thing. It is firm enough to transmit the cast loop / energy on down the leader to turn the works over. And it keeps the sinking material from being connected directly to the end of your 'floating line'.

Being able to get a fly and leader tip down without having the first 15 feet of your fly line sucked under because of a sink tip enables easier set up for the next cast. For instance; with the type leaders I use I am able to lift - sweep - set and cast while I have 50 foot of line and the leader out of my rod tip. No stripping in large amounts of line to facilitate the next cast. That is of course unless you are fishing at such a distance that you have 20 or more foot of the integrated running line out the rod tip. In this case I do have to strip that back before sweeping up the line.

I do a little snap thing with my rod prior to sweeping the line; this ensures that all of my floating belly is right up on the surface so I'm not dragging up line.

This short video although not very entertaining, shows that little snap I mentioned above. Right when the fly is dangling straight down and just before the sweep you'll see a quick flip of the rod. It just gets that floating line right on the surface before I bring it back upstream.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIu625dTM_0&feature=youtu.be

The casts are being made with a line having a 50 belly section and integrated running line. The leader is made as follows: 6' of 30 pound mono - 6' of T 9 - 3 foot of 12 pound mono tippet. The fly on it is a Wilkinson Sunray tied on a Pro Tube with the drop weight tube added.

The sinking section weighed right around 54 grains and sank well enough to catch me a steelhead in that same spot that evening. With the additional sinking properties of the fly the rig was sufficient for fishing the current seen.
 
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sneakypeter

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Ard, I get your point regarding the heavy mono helping turnover, my use of braid was purely down to lack of suitable mono(now sorted), but it still cast well enough. I look forward to using this on the Avon in heavy spring flows, far easier than full, hi d lines, and probably more effective, certainly less tiring!!!
peter
 

paddymc

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Hi Ard,

Your link to that video doesn't seem to be working. Would really like to see you casting this set-up.
 
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Hardyreels

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That clip of video was taken last fall in Oregon and I had a new Go Pro camera strapped to my chest. It would be much better if the video were shot with a different camera from upstream but I was alone. Hopefully it demonstrates that these type sinking leader attachments cast well enough so they are not an encumbrance but rather make things work rather well.

Always remember that regardless of how you choose to weight and sink the fly / leader, once you pass the weight in that tip section of the line casting will get ugly. I have tried T-20 for deep swift runs and the only rod and line I have that can handle it with relative ease is a 13'9" rod using an 825 grain 63' belly. Even with that kind of power and line weight casting much over 70 - 80 feet becomes hard work.

Because of that, I keep the sinking line on the light side and use my position - the angle of the cast and mending to help with getting the fly deep enough to do its job.
 
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troutcontrol

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Hi Ard,
did you ever try one of these double density tips (AIRFLO Flo Tips or RIO MOW Tips) - and is it comparable to your interesting concept?

Cheers
Martin
 

Hardyreels

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Hi Martin,

My sink tip experiences are not that many but all were a bit of a hassle because they were so hard to bring to the surface for re-casting. Granted, they sink but some sunk a bit too well. I've used the old integrated tips that were sold by Cortland and SA long ago, then when multi tip lines came about I had one of them. Both types of lines made it necessary for me to strip most of my line back before casting. Also, both resulted in my getting stuck on all sort of underwater hazards. Yes, they got the line & fly deep, really deep but not without a certain risk and pain in the butt.

Only had a mow tip on one time and it was pretty much the same. My personal attraction to this way of rigging is that when fishing I like to avoid as many possible pain in the butt things as possible. Sometimes I may miss out on a fish because I'm not dragging a fly through the bottom rubble, but then I seldom get snagged and am able to enjoy the casting more because of the lighter weight.

I just put the idea forward in case others would find it useful. If a fellow really needs to swing a fly deep through 15 feet of water I don't think this is the answer but I catch regularly in depths to 6-7 feet if the current permits the fly to sink.

Hope I had an answer in there somewhere :cool:
 
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