How many grains do you REALLY need.

As winter approaches, the visions of being balls deep in icy water, throwing big flies, swinging and stepping begin. Naturally, pre-season is a time to tune your delivery system be-it skagit, long belly ect. Most of us think winter flies in terms of large marabous, bunny leeches, skagit minnows ect. Couple that with tips, sections of T-x and so-on.

What I am curious about is how many of us are running heads in the <600 GR range? Also, what tips are you throwing with each particular set up.


Fishin' to the end, Oc.P
T&T 1409-5 720gr compact skagit with a 5' cheater..................Tips...............just about anything I can loop on it. I was with K2 last winter and on a smaller river I threw a 37 gr per foot x 12foot tip made from a teeny chuck and duck super magnum just to see if I could. Smaller tips are no problem. Depends on the water .
Echo TR 9140 and compact 720 with 5 ft. intermediate cheater and 12 ft of t-18.......and a small farm animal on the end. but I think that I will also have a 8133 decho set up with a 570 compact and 12 ft of t-10 and a smaller 6" intruder for smaller and more shallow rivers.

stewart dee

This is a good question. I found most water we fish is within 60 feet of land and 2 to 5 feet deep. Now fishing 400 to 600 grains with tips will handle these conditions. If a greasy seam 80 to 100 feet out looks good how do you plan to swing it? by the time you chop it up and guess what depth your fly is at with water turbulence I feel this has become a casting day, not fishing. Where are the majority of the fish hooked up? The Dangle? the last 20-30 ft.? the fish followed your fly in and seen it a mile away (if you have been stealth on your wading). I feel 400 to 550 grains is plenty with tips and the right fly for the water (eyes or naked). These grains allow you to cast a variety on the menu of modern technique: snake rolls, pokes, downstream pokes, circle Spey, etc, etc. I love how big grains and heavy dredge tips hook up but I can't see the value here on our rivers. Whats your outlook? Not to snipe at anyone so this is in respect and ultimately just another opinion.

Ian Broadie

Flyfishing is so "Metal"
I'll either throw a 13' 4" 6/7 solstice with 510 grains, 13' Deer Creek 7/8 with 570 grains, or 13'8" Skagit specialist with 650 for after new year and I don't want to take the chance of play out a fish too much. If I feel super fancy I'll throw the 530 grain sinking scandi head on my 8124.....


Active Member
I fish a Compact 570 with either 15 feet of t-14 or a 15 ft 9wt tip. Weighted flies to 5 inches or so. Fish this on either a Deer Creek 7/8 or MKS 7/8


still an authority on nothing
I rarely fish big heads in winter, I'm always less than 600gr unless I get a testosterone spike and feel a need to fish 6" bunnies.
On my 7wt's I fish 480-570 grain compacts with tips up to 170 grains depending on the rod. For bigger tips I'll drop down a line weight with the head in order to accommodate the load.
I usually throw 450 Skagit on a 12'6 DC for smaller flies and if I need to chuck half chickens I work with a 700+ gr scandi or skagit on a 14' DC. For tips I throw any thing from 8' intermediate poly leader to 12' 0f T-14. All can tips can be cast just fine with both rods. The heavier T-14 usually works better with a poke setup and anchor on the shorter rod.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
All of them. I got a SGS Scandit for my 8129. Take off the scandi tip, put on the Z8, Z11 or Z14. Catch a chicken or bunny, toss, drown, hold on? Maybe it will work out. It felt great casting it last winter after I got it in the mail.


Active Member
I like using from 460-530 grain line from 45-65 foot belly and tips to around 110 grains +- on a 12'-6'' 7/8 weight rod. For the most part, huck whatever size bug I want but prefer to fish light and smaller flies typically. The last couple of years been doing more and more grease lining with small flies, no tip just a real long leader, in certain water in late winter. For deeper pocket water under the trees, I use weighted bugs, tied sparse and longish F.C. leaders, leading the fly through the water (if in tight enough). I never really liked the way skagits fished, and the fact that I never had a dedicated rod kept me from getting on the bandwagon. Why bother when the old overlined modified Wind Cutter was doing the job? (lol) There is a time and place though, but I learned other pleasing to me techniques to compensate...
The least amount you can get away with. First of all I don't throw huge flies 2-3" with a cone head is as large as I get. I like a 480 compact Skagit on my 7136 and find it doesn't limit how much tip I can throw. I typically use 8' and at times 10' of t-14 but when I got some t-17 last year I was messing around to see just how much of it the rod/line combo could take and was up to 16' before I stopped.

Now I get away with much less, 480 total body and tip, now that I've moved over to a full sinking scandi line. I'll probably never get lower than that because I can't see using smaller than a 7wt spey for winter steelheading...though on small water I do use my 7wt switch, but it really isn't enough rod for those winter bruisers.