What Airflo says about their new F.I.S.T. Skagit style shooting head: Chrome chasers rejoice! The new Airflo Skagit F.I.S.T is here and ready to swing for the fences. Our field test team says that the new Skagit F.I.S.T (Floating, Intermediate, Sink-Three) really 'digs' and has gotten people into fish they couldn't get to with other lines. This new head fishes deeper and slower than other lines because of its triple-density construction. The head's rear floats high for improved drift tracking, transitioning to an intermediate-density middle section and a Sink-3 tip. This unique construction allows the head to 'tip down' in the water column and give the angler a near-perfect straight line from the fly to the tip of the rod. Loop on any level-sink tip and you're ready for the pickiest fish in the river. Densities are indicated by a color change from Mantis Green to a stealthy Dark Gray tip. Skagit F.I.S.T. heads are available in 450 to 720 grains.
What we have to say about F.I.S.T.: The winter of 2016 brought dense runs of winter steelhead to our rivers starting in December and by early January, things were rockin'. And lots of anglers came with them. Usually such crowding creates chaos and childish territorialism between anglers. That year, in a large part through the cooperation of local guides a different atmosphere prevailed. We actually conducted ourselves like adults and even enjoyed sharing water with each other.
On such a day Brian Silvey and I shared one of the more famous runs on our favorite local river. After some chit-chat, he handed me a rod with a novel line set up and said, "Try this, it's a line that I have been working on with Tim Rajeff. I thought it would be nice to have a line that we could use to fish deeper water. We've been working on it quite a while." Brian is one of the most gifted fly casters of all time, and always understated. I knew the line had to be something special if he had been involved.
"This is a three density head for getting deeper with more control. Try a few casts and tell me what you think? Tim is kind of stalling, making sure it isn't rushed to market."
The rod he handed me was a model that I am extremely familiar with. My first cast was with only the 10' sinking tip and a foot of the head past the rod tip. The line landed on the water like a laser beam between the the tip of the rod and the fly, and so it was until the whole head was extended. A very gentle stroke was all that was needed to throw one perfect cast after another. Then came yards of shooting line until I was throwing way beyond the sweet spots in the wide pool.
Brian cocked his head to one side as the line was replaced on the reel, and the outfit was handed back to him. My recommendation was, "Tell Tim this line is definitely ready for production!" Then I made a mental note to order ten dozen of them, and also a full double-set for myself, and my own guiding operation. A large box of them came soon after.
That was nearly two winters ago, but the sales of Airflo F.I.S.T. lines are still strong as ever. The F.I.S.T. is a total winner, especially since the winter of 2018 has had a lot of low clear water, which has meant that the only cover for migrating fish has been in the deeper water. All my clients carry two rods, one with a floating Skagit and one with a F.I.S.T. Floating heads work better when the water is average 5-feet deep, "steelhead green", and average "steelhead speed". F.I.S.T heads are better when water velocity increases or when water is clear and the fish are holding deeper.
Check out the picture below as an angler fishes his fly 8-feet deep. You will notice that the shooting line is slightly submerged, but level with the surface of the water. The F.I.S.T head is decending at a relatively steep angle until it completely disapears.
The F.I.S.T. has become the favorite shooting head for an ever increasing number of anglers who fish for Chinooks with flies. Most anglers who fish for Spring Chinooks do so with their winter steelhead size gear. Anglers who pursue larger fall Chinooks, and British Columbia and Alaska King Salmon, will be glad to know that the F.I.S.T. lines come in sizes to fit nine and ten weight two-handers, as well as the more popular six to eight weight sizes.