Skagit heads combined with modern Spey rods have changed our approach to sink-tip fishing not just for steelhead but also for Atlantic salmon; we now have the ability to fish heavier sink-tips and larger flies than ever before.
However, with this change has come some confusion. With the wide range of Skagit heads and sink-tip materials available on the market today it’s difficult to know what’s right for your type of fishing and moreover what’s right for your Spey rod! In this series of articles we hope to throw some light on the subject.
The first article of the series is an introduction to sink-tips, the second is all about is matching Sink-Tip grain weight to your Head weight, the third explains how to determine the correct Sink-Tip length for your casting style and Rod, and this the fourth explains how best to cast heavy sink tips.
Casting Heavy Sink Tips
Casting heavy sunk lines is not easy; casting heavy sink tips with a Skagit head is easier but certainly very different.
The “Half Out and Go” (the term was coined by Bob Pauli in an article he wrote for the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club (GGACC) Bulletin, a few years back) method which we describe below is pretty easy and very effective. “Half Out and Go” is especially good for casting long and heavy sink tips that are more difficult to cast with the traditional approaches.
1. Place the anchor: Perform any Skagit (waterborne anchor) cast to position the anchor prior to setting up the D-Loop. We use a Snap-C/T, or Skagit Double-Spey or a Perry Poke. If you screw up the anchor placement just “[Perry] Poke” it to the correct position/target line up.
2. Pause: As with all “waterborne anchor” casts, once the anchor is placed, you must paaaauuuuse… before setting up the D-loop allowing the sink tip to sink, and dig in to form a “sustained anchor.” The pause should be something in the region of one to three seconds; the lighter the sink tip, the longer the pause.
3. Forming the D-loop: This is standard spey casting technique. The skill here is to use just enough energy to load the rod and start lifting the sink-tip without however pulling the anchor entirely. Too much power and the anchor will blow, too little and you end up with a stuck anchor, thereby killing the forward momentum.
4. Half Out and Go. Bob Pauli coined this term to explain what we are trying to achieve. We think it explains it perfectly. So, “go” on the forward cast when the sink tip is very roughly half way out of the water (caused by the momentum of the line going backwards into the D-Loop during the back cast). In order to know when “half out” is just watch your anchor as the D-loop forms. If you “go” too early the anchor is far too sticky killing the forward cast; if you “go” too late, the sink tip will have pulled out, making it impossible to fully load the rod. So, watch your sink tip as the backward momentum of the D-loop forming begins to pull it out of the water.
We think that using a Skagit head to cast heavy tips is easier than casting a fully sunk line, but as before don’t take our word for it, get out there, try it and judge for yourself.
Just remember “half out and go.” 😎