Demystifying Skagit and Scandi Heads

Why, is it nostalgia, the challenge, stubborness. Please explain, cause it sure isn't efficiency or function. It cant be nostalgia cause heavy flies are a somewhat new in a historical sense. Same thing with sinking tips. It could be the challenge after all we are talking about steelheaders here. My money is on stubborness.
It is sort of like the old why do you ride a hardtail question; if I have to explain it to you, you will never understand.
Because you have the sweetest lookin' scooter in the joint, and everybody there looks on with envy wishing they were man enough to ride one still crawl in bed at night with a sore ass and a stiff back.

o mykiss

Active Member
Probably no one would dispute that a Skagit line is the one of, if not the most, effective lines for delivering heavy tips and big flies, but it isn't the only way. I often fish a Skagit line in the winter for that reason, but it's not the only type of line I fish in the winter by any stretch. In fact, I used a mid-belly multi-tip (65' head, including tips) to deliver up to Type 8 tips (matched to line weight) and large flies (e.g., Pick Yer Pockets, Wombats, MOAL leeches, string leeches, aluminum tubes, etc.) long before I even knew what a Skagit line was. (Sorry - I don't fish 3" brass tubes. Can't think of too many situations where I'd need something that heavy while fishing heavy tips.) Truth be told, I'd rather fish a mid-belly line if I can because I get really weary of having to strip in a lot of line between casts, not to mention having to manage all that stripped in line. Mid-belly saves me 2 - 5 strips (depending on how far I'm trying to cast), which for me can greatly increase the satisfaction level (don't know why - just ain't wild about stripping; if I really wanted to strip, I'd go fish the salt or stillwater). If I need to use a 190 grain, 15 ft Type 8 tip on my 7/8 spey to effectively fish a deeper run, I'm going to use the Skagit, but if I can get away with 10-12 feet of T-14 or a regular Type 6 or 8 tip, I will go with the mid-belly hands down (including for fishing large flies). People should fish what they want to, but casting tips and large flies with something other than a Skagit line is not nearly as heroic a feat as some of you guys try to make it out to be. It's also kind of funny that while the hard core Skagit guys would like us to believe that you're insane to fish anyting other than a Skagit line during the winter, some of the same guys admit that they're fishing Type 3 or Type 6 tips because the new revelation is that - surprise surprise - you do not need to be down on the stones to hook winter fish. Go figure.

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
My neighbor and I have a saying, "That's how he does it."
Essentially the point is that neither he or I give a fuck how someone else does something as long as it doesn't hurt us.
DT lines and large flies?
"That's how he does it."
I've met a few of the guys Kerry fishes with. I don't suspect anyone would care to tell any of them that they were doing it wrong to their face. If you did, they probably wouldn't listen anyhow.

Sox win 4-0,


Active Member

It is not true that big heavy flies are something relatively new. Back in the 1800's Atlantic Salmon fly fishers regulary fished with flies tied on 4"-6" long hooks! Notice, not tubes, but on hooks that were 4"-6" long. No matter how you cut it, those are some big heavy hooks and resultant flies. Then you add to this the fact that they fished with untreated silk or horsehair lines that absorbed water and got heavier as the day went on, and they were hucking some serious weight that sank like the proverbial lead balloon!

And they were doing this with rods made of greenheart, which is not exactly a lightweight rod building material and casting these huge flies on those greenheart rods 30-40 yds. Funny they did this day-after-day for hours on end. Graphite rods are featherweights in comparison to what they were using. And modern tube flies, even ones tied on 3" brass tubes, don't weigh as much as a fly tied on a steel hook that is 6" long.

I don't fish with long rods and long-belly lines because of tradition, the challenge, nostalgia, or stubborness. Rather I prefer to fish with them because: 1) I don't have to strip line between casts on most runs; 2) this lack of stripping means I have my fly back out in the run more quickly than if I had to strip in 40'-60' of running line before making a cast; 3) I can easily fish a run 100' out without having to shoot a pile of line when using a line that has a belly of 90'-100'; and 4) casting 80' with the long-belly and 16' rod takes no more effort than casting 65' with 35' of Skagit head and sink tip combined on a 12'6" rod. And I don't have to strip or shoot any line to do so.

As I've said before, I'd never recommend a newbie to spey casting or inexperienced spey caster get a long rod and long-belly line. I recommend they get a rod of 12'6"-14' long and a short- (55') or mid-belly (65') interchangeable tip line. And start by casting 40'-45' increasing the distance in 5' increments after they can consistently make double spey and snap-T cast at the smaller distance.

This is no different that telling a newbie to single-hand fly rod trout fishing to get a 8'-9' rod and a standard WF line. A new single-hand caster is not suited to using a shooting head, nor is he suited to using a long-belly single-hand line like the SA Expert Distance line or a salmon/steelhead line.
Looks like it's gonna be some kind of record! Just wanted to be a part of it. For the record fished long bellies since 1996 until 3 seasons ago when I got my first skagit. then last year got the compact skagits. Can't wait to try out the compact scandies as well. this fall I will be throwing a delta long on a 7146 DH echo.....for the first two hours of daylight and the last, but by mid-day, bring on the switch's and compacts and small tips. IF you limit yourself to one idea or method you will never progress as an angler. Point being, don't knock it til you tried it!

There, got one in. I still love my long bellies but I can't understand the "more holy than thou" attitude that some people have. You will never be half the angler that a young punk with an open mind and a desire too learn will be......And one day you will see that young man on the river and he will hand you the most emabarrasing ass whoopin' of all time .........on your turf with your method.....then how will you feel? Suddenly all this BS you have been feeding your own ego is mute.


Ignored Member
I have stood in the river alongside some of the pioneers of the so called Skagit line and Skagit cast sharing water with them as they refined the lines and perfected the cast, gleaning from them every tidbit of information I could in an attempt to improve my ability to cast and fish. I, myself, prefer to use a Skagit line and have been doing so for the past 15 or so years yet here I find myself defending the longer lines and the more traditional approach. It is about not limiting one’s self to any particular style and keeping an open mind and understanding some do things a different way because they can and not because it is the most effective or the most comfortable. Besides, I don't want some young whipper snapper going all davemonti on me. I believe that whatever gets your fly wet is ok. The original article is a good article and the thread is a good thread albeit a little long.

Go fish.

I'm done.

Erik F. Helm

Frozen in the river, speyrod in hand
My perspective.

First off, I would encourage any beginning two-handed caster to begin with a 55ft head and a 13-14' rod. Easy and actually making spey casts instead of flop and lob. Starting with Skagit will instill poor habits such as no body motion, lack of twisting, tiny or poorly shaped d-loop, etc. etc. Using anything over 15' with a longer line one may run the chance that the beginner may give up on it and it will end up in the closet with the Karate outfit and soloflex.

Skagit has its place, as do other casting styles. Long before the over popularity of everything skagit, Scandinavian casters began reading the speypages forum to find out what they were doing (throwing large brass tubes with intermediate tip scando lines) could not be done without a 'Skagit' head. They were confused.

Being from the Midwest, I use a Skagit head in the spring in our heavy flow spate rivers when most people would never think of setting foot in the rivers. Too high. With overhanging deciduous trees, vines, bushes and etc. crowding the bank, we struggled for years with even 55ft heads. The Skagit heads were a godsend to these conditions. The garbage overhead and around us led to the term 'Ghetto casting'.

But.... Then Skagit began to be applied to everything. "What intruders should I use in the North Umpqua?", "which switch rod and skagit line will work for fishing the holy water of the Henry's Fork?" etc. etc. etc.

I have seen some excellent casters of longer belly lines go all gaga for the Skagit heads, use them for months on end, and then be unable to cast their longer heads any more. Strange...

Skagit has its place, as do other styles of rod and line, but I often wonder as the lines get shorter and shorter, the rods shorter and shorter and the flies bigger and bigger, if, in a way we have begun to morph our fly fishing into bait casting. Some of the Skagit Masters are no longer even using flies, they are making 'lures' out of rabbit strips and lead shot.

A lot of very well thought out opinions and points were made in this thread. Congrats.
......And one day you will see that young man on the river and he will hand you the most emabarrasing ass whoopin' of all time .........on your turf with your method.....then how will you feel? Suddenly all this BS you have been feeding your own ego is mute.
You are talking fly fishing right?

Or did I accidentally login to a WWF forum?

I mean seriously, this is fucking fly fishing.

Anyone who even cares or worries about "getting their ass whooped" metaphorically by the river is an idiot.

I think this argument is solely based on preferences. Argue the technical shit all you want but when it comes to actually catching fish, if that is your #1 goal, don't go with a Skagit line, or a tampon and some beads, don't even go fly fishing, grab a gear rod. Seems really fucking obvious to me.

Whoever invented competitive fly fishing should ESAD! It has soiled such a wonderful sport and community.

Jeremy Floyd

fly fishing my way through life
I dunno J..

When I am on the water my main goal is catching fish, period. I don't have to go stand in a river for scenery.

My two cents (which are coming from a huge asshole, as most of you know, so huge grain of salt) is that everyone needs to take a step back, take a deep breath, and say to themselves "I am secure enough in my manhood that someone having a differing opinion shouldnt make me feel threatened."

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