Full sink lines for salmon/steelhead in rivers. Help

I have a full sink line, I think the fastest type, for my 8 weight rod. I have never fished with it. I'm not really sure how to. If you try to swing with it, there is no line control and it gets a lot of drag, it seems like it would anyway. Can you nymph/dead drift with it or will you have to much slack and miss any strikes? What types of water are most suitable for a full sink. I need help with this because I would like to be able to utilize the line in the situations that warrant it being used. Am I right in thinking that the full sink with get much deeper than a sink tip?

Any help would be great



What grain line is it? You'll probably end up lining/flossing most the fish you find if it's as heavy as you say it is. If I swing I like to find a pretty slow sinking tip, type 4 is usually what I use. You might be able to use that to dredge some really deep pools, I've never had much success with that method though.

If you're going to nymph you will need to get a floating line. You could dead drift some flies with that, but I dont think you'd be able to see any hookups or feel them very well.

My .02
Brad, full-sinking lines are fine for lakes and still saltwater. An intermediate or Type 1, esp. a clear mono "slime line," might be the indespensable tool for lake fishing. And one of the best lake anglers I know, Iveofione, is deadly with Type 4 and 6 lines.

But in moving streams, they're at a disadvantage, because the currents are always trying to drag them, usually in the wrong direction. There, sinktip lines (which can include interchangeable tip systems) are really needed. Sorry if that means more lines and spools to buy; that's just the way it is. Some exceptions might be small streams, narrow slots in larger streams, and broad drifts with very even currents.

BTW, spey anglers in the British Isles are much more favorable to using full-sinking lines in their salmon rivers. It's an ongoing spey forum agreement to disagree.


Mark Steudel
Nooksack Mac said:
BTW, spey anglers in the British Isles are much more favorable to using full-sinking lines in their salmon rivers. It's an ongoing spey forum agreement to disagree.
I've asked this same question and it seems that in America most people use sink tips. But over in Europe full sinking lines are used more. Maybe look for some european fly fishing forums and see if they have ideas on full sinking line tequniques.
I think that full sink lines are under utilized in the US. With a full sink you are going to get a much steadier and even sink. With my heavy sinktip line I still don't feel like I get nearly the depth that I want. Also, a couple years back when I was planning on heading to Alaska for a summer, the outfitter sent me a list of gear I needed. On that list was a full sink line, used especially for the kings. That is how I ended up with my line, now I have to figure out how to use it.


youngish old guy
They're not easy to use in rivers, I used to fiddle with them with streamers for browns when I fished in MT daily. I caught less fish than my compadres but I did catch some monsters. I do know a guy that uses full sinks exclusively and swears by them. And yes you can get a nice swing out of them. Personally I find them a bit tiresome to cast and retrieve. You really have to be in the zone to detect strikes unless you get a slammer.

Jim Kerr

Active Member
I use mine in rivers alot fall coho fishing. And occasionly winter steelhead fishing. And of course in the salt when fishing from a boat.
Coho like to gang up in specific spots, and thats one thing a sinking line is good for in a river, hammering specific spots hard. You are right though, they don't mend well wich means you have to keep your casts short unless you are fishing water with a consistant curent all the way across.
I think of full sink lines as a specialty river line which I don't often use but wouldn't want to be without when I need em, if you keep it you will get some use out of it.


Piscatorial predilection
I had a full sink line once that fit your discription to a T.

It was very tiresome to cast and wore me out , even trying to get it out of the water to cast again was a chore because of the weight.

I made two very servicable sink tips out of it.

To each his own, I only use sink tips now. I'm pretty much a river guy, don't fish lakes much at all but I believe that the guy's that do, use full sinking lines very nicely in that environment.



Well-Known Member

Yes, you can use a full sinking 8 weight line for river fishing, but seldom will it be the best suited to your task. It's nearly impossible to effectively nymph/dead drift fish with that line, but it will swing a fly quite nicely in some circumstances. However, sink tip lines are much more versatile for stream and river fishing. The full sinking line will not get your fly deeper than will a sink tip line for most river fishing, due largely to drag that you cannot control.

I tried various full sinking lines for steelhead for years before deciding that I was imposing a considerable disadvantage to my fishing. Buy or make sink tips to suit your intended fishing, and you'll never look back. As one or two others mentioned, you can chop that full sink line into a number of tips for home made sink tip lines.


Salmo g.

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