Why Different Lengths of Skagit Heads

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Why Different Lengths of Skagit Heads?  

Mass Moves Mass.

Head Weight

Head Length

Grains Per Foot

Ratio W/T-11

Ratio W/T-14



29.17 Grains





26.25 Grains





22.82 Grains





20.19 Grains



When considering the choice of a rod and fly line one might start with the fly you are going to cast. If we were talking about a shooting sport, the fly would be the projectile (bullet) and the rod/line combination would be the propellant (powder charge). Fly fishing works a little different in that the the rod acts as the propellant and the fly and fly line in combination are the bullet. Or another way to look at it is that the energy stored in the rod during the loading process is transferred to the line at the stop at the end of the power stroke, then passes through the line in the form of a loop which pulls the fly to the target. In the case of both the bullet and the fly, the more energy applied the faster the mass will move. In fly casting a heavier fly line retains more kenetic energy that a lightweight one and will be able to pull a heavier fly farther. So one might consider the weight of the fly first. As you can see from the chart below, there are vast differences in flies used for anadromous fish. The first example is lightweight enough to be cast efficiently with a Scandi line and a tapered nylon leader. The second example is also lightweight enough to be cast with a Scandi line, but might be more comfortable to be cast with a Polyleader

Here are some examples of fly weights:

Fly Size and TypeFiy Weight
#4 Unweighted Traditional Steelhead Bucktail (Irish Car Bomb)6 gn
#2 Unweighted Tube Fly (Mark's Spey Intruder - Pro Microtube, OPST Swing Hook9 gn
#2 Fish Taco9 gn
#2 Berry's Improved Fish Mover (Medium Eyes)29 gn
1/0 Howell's Guide Intruder37 gn

When choosing a sinking tip for a Skagit shooting head there are a few things to consider if you want to cast efficiently. When fly casting, it takes mass to move mass. Heavier fly lines cast heavier flies easier than do lightweight fly lines. That is the reason Skagit line systems were developed in the first place, to cast large heavy flies.  A T-14 sinking tip will turnover heavier flies than T-11. In turn T-17 will turn over even larger flies than t-14. I did not include T-17 in the table at the top of this page because the Skagit head displayed weighs 525-grains (a #7-weight) which does not cast T-17 very well. To cast a 10'-12' sinking tip with a 23' Skagit head smoothly you will need one that weighs nearly twice as many grains per foot as the tip, in the case of T-17 you will need a head that weighs a minimum of 30-grains per foot, or 23' x 30-grains = 690-grains, which would fit a 14'-#9/10 rod. To match a the same tip with a 20' foot head it could be 625-grains, which could be thrown with a 13'-#9 rod. Depending on the length of the casts needed, this shorter rod could be more comfortable.

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