Different Grain Skagit Heads, Same Rod

What is the reason for having multiple Skagit heads with different grain weights for the same rod? I have heard of people who do this but im not sure why. Do you switch out the heads on the river while you are fishing to match the fly you want to cast? Since most rods tend to be rated for one weight of head wouldn't it be better to switch out rods completely if you wanted to go to a bigger head/fly combo?
For me, I have one rod trout spey and one steelhead spey. Don't have the money to have a couple (someday).

There will be days I fish a certain river that my cast are only going to be 30-50 feet, why do I need to cast a 550 grain and tip, when the same rod throws a 400 grain and tip, less effort and less fatiguing during the day.

I may go down river and find spot where I may need to cast little farther/deeper/faster and throw bigger/heavier flies and tips, then I switch lines. Easier to just switch lines than carry another rod (even broken down). I can carry couple lines and tips in my pack, even takes up just same amount of space and lighter than another reel.

Plus lighter grain weight for my scandi, mid grain weight for all a round Skagit, or for some they just want the deeper loading of the Skagit and go to the extreme grains, it is all personal preference. Adapt one rod, which throws many lines, makes happy fishing.

Just my .02



Well-Known Member
I don't use different weight Skagit heads on one rod. There is a grain window range of weights that each rod will cast comfortably, but most casters decide on a preferred grain weight for a rod. I cast 450 gr on my 7 wt, but James likes 500 on the same rod. I have Skagits in 400, 450, and 550 gr, and I use them on different rods.



Anywhere ~ Anytime
On topic to your initial question I believe for most it's a good way to tweak / dial your head and variable tip [length - grains per foot] to fly [size and weight] ..hopefully to some advantage.

I don't utilize different weight skagit heads but sometimes vary the skandis. A long head flies nicer plus maybe a few less strips. Wind, especially combined with crap weather, a shorter head of the same weight or maybe a touch heavier can make big difference in your casting effectiveness. Deep wading another factor.

Guideline [and others] used to sell their heads at default length of 44' in varying line classes. On a 9/10 rod this allowed you to potentially use an 8/9 head at near or full length, a 9/10 head trimmed a few feet, a 10/11 trimmed back more yet, and in extreme cases maybe even an 11/12 cut back several feet. All reasonably close in total weight.

Guessing some of the same crosses over into skagit tecnique.. with possibly even more variables. Length and weight of tip needed, with size and weight of fly factoring in, weather conditons, etc.. It's common knowledge now that the skagit short or switch versions have more power - turn over capacity as the grains are compacted that much shorter. My first skagit was a RIO 'beer can' @ 27' ..and Airflo's North West may have been longer yet. Multiple heads now available in the 18' - 20' range.
Lighter Skagit line for tips of T-8 & T-11.

Heavier Skagit line for tips of T-14 & T-17.

Most TH rods have a nice grain window for casting various weights.

Remember the tip weight is not included in the weight recommendation for Skagit heads.

As stated before most TH rods will handle a wide window of grain weights. It all comes down to a few items, what are your fishing conditions and what is your solution to get the fly in front of the fish. Heavier tips require heavier heads to move them effectively. For the same rod I carry Scandi heads of same general weight but different lengths depending on the back room for my D loop and for Skagit heads I will have the same basic lengths but 3 different weights varying by about 75 grains to handle multiple size tips. This way with one rod I can cover varied conditions I run into with out packing other rods. I can take 5-6 heads with me on a trip along with poly taper weighted leaders and T material tips in multiple weights and lengths. Give yourself the most options possible.


Active Member
My reasoning is as follows. There are a couple of reasons I choose to adapt one rod vs. using multiple rods. By using the same rod under different conditions, I have become more attuned with the rods action & it's capabilities. Plus, I am like a Monday morning Po-lock. I have enough trouble getting back in the groove after staying off the river for the weekend. I don't need to complicate matters any more by switching rods halfway through the week/day/run. I can adapt to different river conditions dictating large or small flies fished at different depths through different water, simply by changing out heads & sink tips which I am able to keep on hand. The time lost to changing out the system, I find more agreeable than carrying multiple rods and worrying about one, or more, not being where I left it when I
return, or did I even bring the right rod today?

So, my system is this.
  1. Skagit Compact 540gr head & 15 ft T-14 MOW tips for chucking junk. SA casts.
  2. Custom chopped Skangit 478gr head & conventional 15ft tips in 129 gr type 3/6/8 for the bulk of my fishing normal, every day flies. SA casts.
  3. Floating Scandi 400gr head & long tapered leader for surface work. T&G casts.
Works for me. But then I stay close to home.