Steelhead Fly Lines

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Mike Colagrossi, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. Mike Colagrossi Whammo!

    Posts: 495
    Sammamish, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I plan on giving some serious attention to trying to round up as many metalheads as possible this summer and I was wondering if you guys can help me out....

    I just purchased a 8wt RPLXI and I am looking to out fit it with the best line possible for the rivers here in Washington such as the Sky, Stilly, Hoh, Boggy etc.. and wanted to know if you guys had better luck with one line vs another??

    I was thinking about picking up the Rio Versitip 8wt line but I can't decide between the 15ft or 24ft heads??

    Any help would be awesome and thanks for the advice!

    :beer1 :beer1 :beer1 :beer1 :beer1 :beer1 :beer1 :beer1

  2. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,702
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,744 / 0
    I can't recommend 1 line over the other but I will say that 15 foot heads are plenty for most conditions I have fished in. I have rarely needed a 24 foot head. That is not to say they are not useful. It might be more I don't fish water that would require one. As far as lines go I make my own or I have a friend that will make them for me but I have to feed him a Burrito Colorado.
  3. Nailknot Active Member

    Posts: 1,895
    Ratings: +8 / 0
    Hiya Mike,

    I have the Rio Versitip in a 7wt. I love it. I often use AirFlow sinking leaders instead of the tips for summer fishing (and most of this past winter actually). For a real depth probe I use a type 8 sinking tip from Rio (15 ft I believe). The AirFlow leaders are cheaper, $5-6 bucks, and are 10ft in length. I don't use the Vesitip for floating line anymore, although it worked last summer for me on summer steelies. I found a bit of a break in period for the WF portion of the MultiTip mailine- it was very stiff and hard to turn over the first few times out.
  4. Luv2flyfish Another Flyfisherman

    Posts: 753
    Western WA, US.
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    I would recommend the RIO Versa-Tip (15ft heads). I just got one and its sweet!

    One other observation that I recently made - I too have an RPLXi 8wt - I had a short sink tip on it and it was ok. I put the versa-tip on it and it was a NIGHTMARE to cast. I learned that the RPLXi is so specialized its really for floating lines and casts under 50 feet. I got sick of fighting with the rod and bought an XP - MUCH BETTER. Soo, since I didnt want to waste an RPLXi I started experimenting. I put a full sink 7wt line that I had and the rod was alot easier to deal with. One thing I notice about the RPLXi is that its Light in the tip section, it feels underpowered throwing heavy flies and heavy lines when you start reaching a decent distance. If you know someone who has a 7wt Versa-Tip, ask them if you can cast it (THROW ON THE TYPE 8 TIP) If you can, cast the 8wt, heavy tip as well and see what you come up with. I wish I would have done that sooner. My RPLXi is now just a spare and probably wont get fished much. Just something that I ran accross with my RPLXi. I highly recommend trying out a 7wt line for it in the line system that you want, before you dump the cash. Good Luck! Jay
  5. Whitey Active Member

    Posts: 991
    Far side of the moon
    Ratings: +185 / 0
    I'm with kerry, make your own. It's really is not that difficult. You get exactly what you want at a much cheaper price. Plus, they cast way better, the running lines used in the multi-tip systems are not as good as say a Cortland 444sl rocket taper with the WF front section cut off and some loops installed. Then just buy the heads you want. Big props to Dennis Worley at Kmanns for showing me the zen master ways. :thumb YT :smokin
  6. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,601
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,653 / 0
    I forgot what I was supposed to remember.

    This sounds like the same problem I had with my Rio Multitip last year. I had a friend of mine build me a 9'6" 8 wt out of a Avid Blank(st croix). Well I wasn't doing to good with it as I seemed to be lobbing it out instead of casting. Was getting to the point of getting rid of the set up but I stuck with it and now I wouldn't trade it for the world. Casts are getting longer each time I use it,but now it's put away. Time for the 5wt.


    P/S Rod was made by mtlhead so I don't have to fish for them,just with him.:thumb
  7. Mike Colagrossi Whammo!

    Posts: 495
    Sammamish, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Thanks everyone for the advice, now I am split on buying the versitip or buying my own!! Where did you guys learn how to make your own and is there any literature out there on this subject or is it just buy the floating line you want then buy the heads???


  8. Nailknot Active Member

    Posts: 1,895
    Ratings: +8 / 0
    I think it comes down to the eternal question: are you a tinker-er? ;) I was building my own lines a couple years back and found the whole thing a messy, expensive, fail on the river proposition. Somewhere on the Skagit a '01 Humpy passed on with the entire front end of my line in his jaw- watch out for his offspring. But I'm no Einstein and just a little impatient with the details required for these things. I happen to think the Rio running line is sweet, and the whole system bomber. If it fails- I'll take it back and get a new one from Rio or the store (can't beat that). I didn't dig the mono running lines at all, especially for stripping streamers. Tangle town. The VersiTip line seems about the same as the SA running lines I was using, without home made line welds and bumps and loops and hinging. I'll offer one other comment: my buddies who have the AirFlow multi tip hate it (line memory and loop failures). But, like I said, I'm no Einstein, impatient and that's only my experience.
  9. MontanaFlyGuy New Member

    Posts: 22
    Issaquah, Wa, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I have owned the Rio Versa-tip 8wt for 2 years now and really like it. Go with the 15ft heads for these local rivers. I only use 24ft at times for the salt.

    You can then build some of your own additional heads. I don't feel Rio's type 3 and type 6 heads are real true to scale (i.p.s.). I have bought some SA Wet Cel 30ft sinking lines....cut them up so I have a slightly different 14' and 16' head, and they worked much better, cutting deeper in the water during winter conditions. It is also cheaper than buying individual heads.

    I also like the Airflo sinking leaders to have for summer stealhead waters with my floating line.

    Good luck.

  10. Swinger Banned or Parked

    Posts: 117
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    The best system out there follows:

    Rio Powerflex Core .024 or .030 Running Line spliced to a floating shooting head that is 2 lines sizes larger then your rod.

    Cut the front taper of the floating shooting head, loop it and fish whatever 8'-17' or so sinktips (whether you cut them up yourself or bought them ready to go) need be.

    It is just a tad better then Whitey's system!!

    Ohhhhhhh Mac, where are you??? I know just how you can one up Whitey! :9

  11. Wildram007 Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I would have to second Whitey on the Kaufmann's Bellevue Standard Tip System. You gain the benefit of a longer belly (444SL, Mastery Steelhead Taper especially) for better mending AND energy transfer into the tip, as well as the economy of four tips from two $30 shooting tapers.
    Cut the floater at 15'. Cut a Type IV ST at 17' (yielding a 17' and 13' Type IV tip), and a Type III at 15' (cut one half to 10'). This provides a 17' and 13' IV, a 15' and 10' III, and a 15' floater. If more than a 17' Type IV is required, Deep Water Express' can be cut to appropriate length for the rod weight (and rod) being used. All connected via loops made from braided mono, each loop connected to tips and main line by sliding onto line and secured via dual 10 or 12 lb flouro or Maxima nailknots. No lost tips. No hinging. Solid. For $105 to $125 you get four sink tips in addition to the floater, and it casts better, and it mends better, and it runs through the guides better... Das da goods!
    The only real trick is in making those loops from the braided mono (just takes a minute to learn how). Past that, it's so EASY to do, even I can hack through it (in my sleep).

  12. Mike Colagrossi Whammo!

    Posts: 495
    Sammamish, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    You guys have been awesome! I think I am going to go with a store bought system for as Nailnot mentioned I am not a tinkerer and don't want any fish swimming around with a 15 foot trailer in their lip:thumb

    I am going to swing by Kaufmanns today and talk to them and hopefully walk away happy.. Thanks again and good luck to all!

    Tight Lines,


    PS "I remember that some folks were planning a big float down the sky or stilly, and was wondering if that was still on?? I have a boat and would love to get it up there.. ":beer2
  13. sinktip Guest

    Posts: 0
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    Some very good advice on making lines. You don't need 24' tips for summer fishing and rarely if ever for winter fishing in local rivers.

    The SA Sttelhead Mastery is a nice line to build off of and the advice on cutting up the sinking shooting head produces some nice tips although I prefer the Rio 15 tips or even better the Airflo 15' sinktips (not to be confused with the poly leaders which also are sweet in the right situation).

    My one bit of advice on attaching loops is as follows. Get a package of the braided mono loops. Some guys like the kevlar ones that K-mans sells but they are not vital. Cut off an inch or so of the length and slide your fly line all the way up. Take tying thread and whip finish over the exposed butt fibers. Next, apply superglue to the bottom 1/3" of the mono and the top of the whip finished section. Hook something heavy in the loop so there is tension on the loop and hang till the SG is dry. Finally, take a toothpick and work a thin layer of aquaseal over the entire length of the mono using the toothpick to make sure it gets into the braid. Reapply the weight and let dry overnight. You will have a small, supple and very durable loop that comes through the guides easily.
  14. Wildram007 Guest

    Posts: 0
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    Uhhh... A 30' head attached to a running line can only be of value where distance is key and mending not a concern - or, if only fishing with the head of the flyline past the rod tip. Longer belly in the head = better aerial and on-water line mending and control. Ditto no hinging. And when landing a fish, it's nice if that loop connection slides in and out of the guides like water off ice. And those Kevlar pre-made loops ARE overkill. Two or three 10# or 12# flouro or Maxima nailknots onto braided mono loop fascilitates line going through guides rather than hinders it. And 17/13 is less-redundant enough versus a 16/14 to cover two different depth/current scenarios (and 15/10 on the III).

    I guess 30 to 45 foot overall head lengths are fine for alot of people because those set-ups do sell and people do fish them and do catch plenty of fish, I'm sure. But for any of those who would prefer to have further line control (longer belly, no hinging) and smooth, bullet-proof loop connections, there is a solution. That's why people continue to build their own head systems when they could more easily acquire a similar set-up right off the shelf. In less than the time it takes to tie a dozen Skunks, The System can be had (minus dry time).

    I gotta get outta here...

  15. TomB Active Member

    Posts: 1,620
    Ratings: +58 / 0
  16. Swinger Banned or Parked

    Posts: 117
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    >Uhhh... A 30' head attached to a running line can
    >only be of value where distance is key and mending not
    >a concern - or, if only fishing with the head of the
    >flyline past the rod tip.

    If you are needing to mend much during the swing of the fly, you are not properly setting up your swing. Once I have made my cast, made my initial mend or two it is just more or less follow or lead with the rod tip.

    The system that Whitey describes is first rate. I just like the one I fish a tad better because one false cast and I can shoot as much line as need be. Very quick and effecient!

    Although Whitey's system will single hand Spey cast much better then mine. :thumb

    To each his own...
  17. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,417
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +130 / 0
    As I previously mentioned, last Sunday I chopped 30-40 ft. off the end of a WF8F SA SH mastery by rolling a basalt boulder over it. I was working on a splice last night instead of mowing the lawn according to the instructions at I have the core exposed on one part and the piece of dental floss looped inside the other part, but then I got fretting about what kind of adhesive to use. I know a spey guy that uses plain old super glue, but he admits that it does make a stiff joint. I read the back of my tube of super glue (had to find my glasses first) and it says not recommended for immersion in water. The method on uses a slow cure flexible super glue called Flex Zap, but I haven't been able to find anything like that at any hardware store or fly shop. I did find an interesting two part plastic super glue that looks like it would work better with immersion. I also wondering if I should use thinned Aquaseal. What should I use?

    But now, after reading all these ideas for hand made multi tips, I'm thinking, hey, I could put a cortland loop on each end of my slice and loop the floating end on when I wanted to skate and loop the type IV sinking head on when I wanted to dredge. What do you think?
  18. sinktip Guest

    Posts: 0
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    Dana's article on Speypages makes a very nice loop but it is a bit more work. The cortland loops work pretty well and doesn't take near the time. Yes thinned aquaseal will work fine. I usually don't thin mine as I am lazy but just let trhe tube soak in hot water for a while to get runny and then use sparingly. I know people that use Dave's Flexament as it is essentially thinned Aquaseal. As for the other stuff you are searching for, try Zap-a-gap. Most fly shops should carry it.

    As for your line cut, if you cut off 40 ft., you should have 25' left if memory serves me right. The loop method would be fine for the floater but the 20' would be less belly than I would want when looped to a 13-17' head. Those that are into the Skagit style lines like Mike Kinney's old "slinky lines" or the new version of it that Dennis is hyping might disagree.

    Good Luck