Make a custom versi tip??

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jamie Wilson, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    Last summer I was fishing with a guide in Kitimat BC. He makes all of his sink tips out of differing lengths of T-14 sinking line and attaches them to a floating section to adjust to the conditions he is fishing. In essence- he has his own versi-tip type set up.
    I am wondering if anyone out there can explain the relationship between overall line weighting (like what exactly makes a line a 5-6-7-8 wt.), how line weight and length relate to one another (can you just take a floating section and attach different lengths of T-14 and not severly alter the mechanics of the line's original weight, then remove the sink tip and use the floating section by itself), and whether a line's overall length weighs a specific number of grains and can this be calculated easily.
    I ask because I would like to experiment with making my own sink tips. I think it could be more economical and more adaptable if not a major pain is the ass.
    Thanks-
     
  2. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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  3. speyfisher

    speyfisher Active Member

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    The economy of DIY sink tips kinda parallels that of rolling your own flies if you know what I mean. As far as fly line lengths & weights go, there are the AFTMA standards. They dictate what the first thirty feet of a flyline for a single hand rod weighs. Pretty cut & dry. Spey lines are another matter. A good place to start would be Al Buhr's book on Designing & Building your own Fly Lines.
     
  4. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

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    Yup-

    Pain in the butt. Time-consuming. Expensive.

    But you sure learn a whole lot during the process. Maybe your rod, matched with your particular casting stroke, could use a "tweener" line (X.5 wt)...Maybe some situations you encounter won't be "stock casts" and you need a super-heavy bomber sink tip, but only half the factory length...

    Go for it. Get yourself a grain scale, an AFTMA chart, some cheap full-sink line to hack up, and learn on-the-job. It may not save time and money, but it is a fun way to mess around with your hobby.

    IMHO, and YMMV,
    Mark
     
  5. MikeT

    MikeT Member

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    I've recently made up some sink tips by cutting up an old Teeny T-300 line and attaching braided mono loops. The process is simple. Haven't had a chance to cast them yet, but I expect they'll work fine if I match the grain wt. to my lines/rods.
    That being said, I did get some feedback from a flyshop owner that casting a heavy (as measured by gr./ft.) tip with a lighter line was going to be a problem; he advised me that a light floating line will have trouble turning over a heavier tip. That makes sense, so I'll test what I have with a couple of my two-handers and take it from there. The T-300 is 13gr./ft., which according to Rio's chart is about equivalent to a 12-wt. spey line. My heaviest rod is a 9-wt. However, guys casting Skagit lines use the T-14 a lot, and the relative grain weight of their tips and floating lines doesn't seem to hinder them.
    Fly shops that carry Rio products probably will have 30-ft. coils of their T-14 and T-8 sinking line. I think it runs around $15 for a 30-ft. coil. Rio also sells the mono loop connectors. You can make them up with a little super glue, Aqua Seal, and some material for nail knots (I used the pre-tied nail knots you can get from the float/jig section of any tackle shop). Assembly is easy, and unless you get carried away could save you some bucks (Rio wants $20 each for their factory sink tips).

    good luck.....Mike
     
  6. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    Hello-o-o-o! Where do you think the fly line manufacturers got the idea for interchangeable-tip fly lines? Steelhead fly fishermen in the Pacific Northwest have been building custom sinktips and interchangeable-tip fly lines since the 1960s. The first reference that I can recall was a magazine article by Ted Trueblood written in 1958 after encountering such lines on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. Trey Combs describes building non-interchangeable custom lines (built by Sid Glasso) in his Steelhead Fly Fishing and Flies (1976) and, by that time interchangeable tips using braided monofilament loops were already in wide use. Most of the innovations in fly line design in the last forty years have come about from developments on the west coast.
     
  7. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

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    Preston has it right on. When we began cutting up lines to build heads it was with any lines we could find. When SA Wet Cel lines came out it was a big help. They became available in several sinking rates in level lines up to 9-weight. Herter's also had some level German-manufactured fly lines with a wire center that we played with. Eventually Scientific Anglers boss Leon Martuch became very interested and would send us llines to cut and splice. Local anglers in that group included; Syd Glasso, Ken McLeod, Enos Bradner, Bill Loherer, Letcher Lambuth and a bit later, Harry Lemire and myself to name a few. Ted Trueblood was the first to write about shooting heads in Field & Stream (1958).

    Trey Combs indeed covered shooting heads, standard and spliced in his watershed book "Steelhead Fly Fishing and Flies (Frank Amato Publications, 1976). Trey gave a good account of nearly everything that had been done in west coast line design up to the time his book was published. Anyone interested in good steelhead history should find a used copy.
    The practice of custom line building continued to grow until early 1990s. That is when factory sink-tips came out which we immediately transformed into multi-tips. Shortly after that SA began making multi-tips followed by Cortland. And so it has gone until today.

    In the early 1990s when we began fiddling with Spey rods early shooting head culprits were Harry Lemire, Mike Kinney and Dan Lemaich. Others quickly followed, exchanged notes and before long we had the first sink-tip Spey lines followed by multi-tip Spey lines. It brought about a rather divided camp for a time between "Spey-Casters" and "Skagit Shooters". This has since homogenized into all of the lines we now have from SA, Cortland and Rio.

    Most of us still build custom tips for certain situations -- and use them. One afternoon a few years back at my home, Preston and I weighed all of our sink tips and tagged them. They'd gotten pretty mixed up over the years and we didn't know how much each one weighed. With his powder scale and a couple of beers we reorganized all of the many that we had built over the years.

    This is a very brief history of the shooting head/sink tip/multi-tip line. Im certain that this history predates many who follow this web site as you were not yet born when this particular chapter of fly line history was written. We have a marvelous history of fishing innovation along the west coast, particularly in Washington. I hope that this snippet of information will prompt some of you to begin digging into it.
    Good Fishing,
    Les Johnson
     
  8. Denny

    Denny Active Member

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    Your questions would require a treatise on fly line construction, etc., and I'd be surprised if you got it. Some good thoughts and comments have already been shared here with you by some knowledgable folks.

    Using and cutting up T-14, T-8, etc. is the most economical way of making fast sinking tips or shooting heads. However, because of their very fast sink rates, using only the T-14 or similar Cortland LC-13 will limit the flexibility of your system. In order to make a truly flexible system, you'll need a large variety of lines/heads to cut up. That could get expensive.

    Here are a couple more tips. Buy a factory system (SA, Rio, Cortland, Airflo all make good multi tip systems. Cabela's offers one that used to be made by Airflo, and I believe it still is) that is already set up for your rod. It will set you back anwhere from $90 to $140, but you'll in essence have four fly lines. With the base system now already set up, you can pick up some LC-13, T-14, T-8, shooting heads, etc. that you can then cut up to supplement your existing system.

    Years ago I purchased three multi-tip lines (Airflo), one each in 5 weight, 7 weight, and 9 weight. In addition to the factory tips, I have added various combinations of the LC-13, T-14, other tips and shootings heads, etc. I prefer fast(er) action rods, and some of my favorite combinations are my 5 weight running line with the 7 weight tips (I used this on my fast action 5 weights and 6 weights), and the 7 weight running line with the 9 weight tips (on 7 and 8 weights). The 9 running line I also use on my 8 weights, but that's usually when I'm tossing bigger/weighted flies and some of the heavier shooting heads or tips.

    Your running line and head and tip combinations will depend on your rod, your fishing conditions, and your casting proficiency and casting style.

    Good luck!:thumb:
     
  9. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    You guys have been a lot of help. When weighing the first 30 feet of line- how does that work? Is it the belly weight prior to the sink tip? Is there some sort of compensation? I have found that my current line/rod combo is really out of whack- even though both are for 8 wt.
     
  10. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    Dr Magill, This morning I just finished repairing my 8 wt Rio Versa-tip. I had mistreated it very badly the last few seasons, and now I am trying to be more careful. Letting it get dragged over rocks and logs by fish, letting the current drag it into barnacle-covered rocks on the jetty (only once!), and absent-mindedly stepping on it a few times had made many breaks in the coating, and it cracked, flaked and stripped off. I had also snagged up several times with 12# leader, and had to bust off, which may have stretched the line to the point of cracking the coating. I don't know :confused: It became unusable.

    I had to cut out 20' of the running line (was 60', now 40') and the 2-foot rear section of taper and about 1 foot of the belly (was 20', now 19'). My second attempt at splicing the remaining running line back to the belly came out O.K. Once you do a couple of splices, they become easier. I may not have used the best splicing technique, but it came out "good 'nuff" and will have to do.

    Actually, it looks like hell, and will probably give me grief if and when I try to reel the splice in thru the guides with a good fish on, but it sure beats being depressed over having this very expensive line sitting there unusable and not fly fishing for steel because it is my only 8 wt line.

    Reading off the box my line came in, the Rio Versa-tip is approx. 100' in length overall. The tips are 15', with 9' being level, and 6' tapered to the tip, and an additional .5' of level tip.
    The main line is 20' of belly, with 2' of taper to 60' of shooting line.

    By the way, I have used a 6 wt Airflo multi tip for 5 seasons and have mistreated it as badly as I have the Rio, but it has no cracks or breaks in it. The coating on it is definitely more durable than that of the Rio, and I suspect that this is because of the different chemical makeup of the coating. Because of my experience, I will not buy another Rio line.
     
  11. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    I had to go test out the repaired line, so at about 4:30pm I grabbed my stripping basket, drove out to Westhaven State Park, and crawled out over the slippery rocks on the "wave refraction mound" at the tail end of the South Jetty. I found a flat-topped rock with enough barnacles on it to keep me from slipping off, rigged up, tied on a purple/green/white Clouser, stripped out and stretched my line, and began casting.
    Worked great. The splice slid thru the guides cleanly without hanging up, and the line seemed to cast nearly as well as when new. Still has a million small cracks in it, but I don't miss the loss of the 20 or so feet of shooting line, as I'm lucky to make a good cast over 60' anyway. I need more practice, for sure.
    I didn't even miss the 2' of rear taper from the belly section to the running line.
     
  12. Nooksack Mac

    Nooksack Mac Active Member

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    Dr. Magill:

    As Les and others have said, sink-tip systems were invented and fished by NW anglers for decades and still are. The line companies got in on a good thing. Factory loops are nice, but... $150 for one line system? You can buy a decent rod for that.

    Telling everything about sink tips, loops and splices would require several book chapters. Here's a few hints:

    Forget about attaching sink tips to the present front tip of a floating line; you can't cast more than a foot or two of heavy tip that way. No, the whole front taper (6-8 feet, +-) has to go.

    Many of us started with 10-15 feet of sinking line permanently spliced to the front of a floating line's belly. These can be very useful. Of course, you can buy good sink-tip lines, too.

    The only way to have a sink-tip that will turn over smoothly is to use sink tips that weigh no more than the 7' of floating taper that you removed. That's not much latitude. Solution: use short pieces from smaller sinking lines, shooting heads, chunks of lead-core, etc. We usually put up with some clunkiness for the sake of getting a fly down.

    Thread-wrapped, glue-coated splices are strong; noisy going through the guides, but if they're usually beyond the rod tip, that's no problem. For quiet connections, learn to make blind splices with Super Glue.

    For economy's sake, think eBay. A standard, or "drugstore" floating line is an entirely useable platform for sinktip conversion. Three or four tips of different densities/lengths will let you cover most situations. Braided loops are best on thick floating bellies; with sinking lines, which are more compact, you can double them back on themselves to make loops. Wrapping threads of different colors will help you identify different tips. I carry tips in little ziplock bags, with a slip of paper giving the line's specs, all in a sandwich-size ziplock bag.
     
  13. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    N Mac-
    this is the best advice I've had on ANYTHING in a long time.
    Many thanks-
    I will keep you posted on my progress with the line.
    Magill
     
  14. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    Jim,
    What kind of splice were you using? I've found the George Keough epoxy splice (though I no longer use epoxy since some much better adhesives for this purpose have come about since those days) to be extremely secure and to make a smooth connection with almost no humps or bumps. It's really not a difficult splice, though it sounds complicated when being described. A while back I did take some pictures to try to show how it's done and , if you're interested, I'll post them.
     
  15. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    Thanks, Preston. I was using what I'll have to call the "ugly splice." I stared at the two ends that needed splicing....the fat belly (rear taper gone) and the skinny shooting line....until a brainsquall hit me.

    Here's what I did: I stripped about 2.5" of the coating off of both ends by using the stripping notches in the back of my lineman's snips to start, and then finishing with my thumbnail. Then I tied them together using a 5-twist double uni-knot, which left a little stripped bare zone between the knot and the coating (about 1/4") on each side when I tightened it.
    Then I cut the tag ends so that they would just reach the coating when laid along the line, and covered them with a generic aqua-seal thinned a bit with Cotol 240. I then wet my finger tips with saliva and smoothed out the coating very carefully, trying to get a nice taper from the slightly bumpy knot to the line.
    It came out a little lumpy and really ugly (hence the name), but to my surprise, it slid thru the guides just fine. The splice is outside the tip of my rod when I make my double haul to shoot line, so no problem there.

    I also used some of the goo to fix my type 6 sinktip where about 1/16th of the coating had been nicked off and was creating a hinging problem. Stiffened it right up!

    This line still cast great, but I expect it to continue to break down and peel where it is cracked. I have learned that I must be more careful with my expensive flylines!

    Thanks for the offer! I wouldn't mind knowing about better splicing techniques, and although I could probably research that on my own, I'd be most interested in knowing about your method. So please fire away!:beer2:
     
  16. bhudda

    bhudda heffe'

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    preston , i would be interested in seeing those pics if possible. thanks
    jeffrey
     
  17. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    I would like to see them as well!
    Magill
     
  18. Preston

    Preston Active Member

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    Keough Epoxy Splice
    You'll need a small quantity of acetone, toluene or some other strong solvent, some unwaxed dental floss, a sewing needle and some adhesive. Epoxy was the choice back in the day, but I've come to prefer a product like Softex or Pliobond that will remain flexible after curing. A needle vise is a handy tool to have and may be available from the hobby shop; lacking one you can use a pair of pliers. This splice works best with floating lines but, if done carefully works with sinking lines. Of course, it will not work with monofilament core lines.

    Step 1: Insert the needle into the end of one of the lines to be spliced. Work it up and into the core of the line for about an inch. Bend the line and poke the needle out through the side.


    Step 2: Remove the needle from the needle vise and put a doubled length of dental floss through the eye of the needle. Catching the pointed end of the needle in the needle vise, pull it through. Pull the two strands of floss out through the side of the line leaving the loop of floss sticking out the end of the line.

    Step 3: Dip a couple of inches of the end of the other piece of line to be spliced into solvent for a few minutes. This will soften the coating and allow it to be stripped off with the fingernails. Fray out a half-inch of the exposed core and cut away about 1/3 of the fibers to taper it.

    Step 4: Catch the tapered part of the core in the floss loop, saturate the exposed core with whatever adhesive you've chosen to use and, pulling on the two strands of floss, draw the saturated core up and into the core of the other line. Pull it up snugly (sometimes, especially when splicing a smaller diameter line into a larger, some of the smaller lines coating can actually be drawn into the core of the larger).

    Step 5: Cut off the portion of core sticking out of the side of the line, roll the splice between a couple of books or boards to smooth the splice then allow it to cure. This is a very secure splice and, when carefully done, I've never had one fail.

    I know the description makes it sound complicated but after you've done it a time or two it becomes quite simple.
     
  19. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    Woah- that looks nice- how can you determine the core of the line- assuming you picked it up from someone/place other than a store -cut it open?
     
  20. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    strip off a bit.... that's the best way....
     

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