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Top Spey Lines for 2018

by Jerry Darkes   |  January 18th, 2017 0

Skagit Scout 

Available in grain weights from 150 to 480, and in lengths of 13.5′ to 18.5’, the ultra-short Skagit Scout is designed for restricted casting with short, lightweight two-handed rods. Skagit Scout lines are quick and easy to identify and use. The black loop is at the rear of the head; the fly line ID is positioned near the front loop where you attach the Flo Tip or other Skagit-type tip. Skagit revolutionary Tom Larimer helped design the Skagit Scout to have a stable loop through the end of the cast, and recommends the 270-, 330-, and 360-grain Scouts for the new 3-, 4-, and 5-weight G.Loomis ShortSpey rods. $60| airflofishing.com

Skagit Scout Spey Tip


OPST Commando Head 

Ed Ward is one of the originators of Skagit lines and Skagit-style casting, and teaches a sustained-anchor casting style with what he calls a “continuous out and around” casting stroke. Some excellent casters pause just before the forward stroke to allow a full D loop to form and develop energy, but Ward specializes in ultrashort-head Skagit casting and avoids any kind of a pause in tight spots. Commando Heads are best with this type of  fluid cast and come in lengths of 12′ to 18′ for single-hand rods or switch rods shorter than 11′. Starting at 150 grains and increasing in increments of 25, it’s possible to be extremely precise about finding the right head for your rod. $55opskagit.com

OPST Commando Spey Tip


RIO Skagit Trout Max 

Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, these Skagit tips are an excellent choice for two-handed trout fishing, but they also work for smallmouth bass in rivers. At 11′, they are the shortest of the ultra-short Skagit heads on the market, making them exceptional for Spey casts with single-handed rods. For switch rods, lengths of less than 11′ are ideal. We tested the 200- through 275-grain Skagit Trout Max lines with Redington’s 3-weight Hydrogen Trout Spey ($350) and found a sweet spot with the 250-grain head. With so many subtle gradations of grain weight, it takes some experimentation to find the right Skagit Trout Max head, but when you do find it, it’s just right. These heads are built on RIO’s ultra-low-stretch ­ConnectCore so you can better feel strikes on a tight swinging line and set the hook decisively. But the head is only 11′ so if you want that low-stretch feel in your system you’ll need something similar in the running line and the tip. $50| rioproducts.com

Rio Skagit Trout Max Spey Tip


Spey Lite Skagit Head 

Scientific Anglers’ newest Skagit line is a short, powerful head from 11′ to 18′ in grain weights of 150 to 360. The two-color line has a textured, black marker at the end of the head for a visible—and audible—cue for where to begin your cast. This line is also available as a 100′ Spey Lite Integrated Skagit with a seamless connection between the running line and the head. It’s the only super-short compact integrated Skagit line out there, and eliminates the clicking and bumping of the loop connections running through your guides if you do a lot of stripping. The downside is that you can’t experiment with different head weights using the same reel and running line. $50 | scientificanglers.com

Spey Lite Skagit Head Spey Tip


Third Coast Tips 

TC Tips are available in lengths of 8′ or 10′, which gives you a little more flexibility when you’re dealing with smaller, light-line switch rods. Use 8′ tips (80 grains) with head weights from 240 to 300 and 10′ tips (120 grains) on heavier heads. Most Skagit tips in this category have a single density of sinking line, but Third Coast Tips are double-density sinking tips so you have more choices than just either sinking or floating. You can choose sinking tips with these sink profiles: Int./Sink 2; Sink 2/Sink 4; Sink 3/Sink 5; or 3.0/5.0. Of course, there’s also a floating version. All five tips are available in a kit for $125

$25| scientificanglers.com

Third Coast Spey Tips


OPST Commando Tip 

Instead of focusing on sink rate, OPST has designed a series of Skagit tips centered around the grain weight so it’s easy to understand and modify how much your Skagit system weighs, fine-tune the casting weight, and then modify the sink rate from there. The 12-foot tips weigh 96, 132, or 168 grains so you can easily match them with light, short-head Skagit lines. Within each grain weight there are three different sink rates called Riffle, Run, and Bucket so you can maintain the same casting weight but reach different depths by using different tips. The tips are looped at each end, and the rear loops have convenient color-coded line IDs to identify both grain weight and sink rate. $24 | opskagit.com

OPST Commando Spey Tip


Airflo Flo Tips

Airflo seems to always do things just slightly differently, and the case of Skagit sinking tips is no different. There are four different Flo Tips, each one has 2.5′ of intermediate line and 7.5′ of either T-7, T-10, T-14, or T-18. A complete kit is $121. What we’ve found is that the T-7 Flo Tip matches with most heads like the Skagit Scout under about 250 grains. For heavier T-10 and T-14 Flo Tips you need a 250- to 350-grain Skagit head. $27rajeffsports.com

Airflo Flo Spey Tip


RIO InTouch Skagit MOW Light 

Each set of MOW tips has six tips; a 10-foot floating, a 10-foot with 2.5′ floating and 7.5′ sinking, a 10-foot with 5′ of sinking and 5′ of floating, a 10-foot with 7.5′ floating and 2.5 sinking, a 10-foot full sinking, and a 12.5′ full sinking. The complete kit is $150. For short, ultralight rods and Skagit heads less than 475 grains—and especially with shorter heads like RIO’s Skagit Trout Max—it’s important to use MOW light tips. There are also MOW medium, heavy, and extra-heavy versions, but they are too much weight for a light Skagit head. Light InTouch Skagit MOW Tips use T-8 sinking material with a sink rate of 7″ per second.     $25 | rioproducts.com

RIO InTouch Skagit MOW Light Spey Tip

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