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Airflo Rage Compact Spey Shooting Head Airflo Rage Compact Spey Shooting Head
Price: $59.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: SKF -

Airflo Rage Compact Floating Skagit Shooting Head The Airflo Rage Compact shooting head was designed to combat extremely windy weather and tight quarter casting situations. Many desert steelhead rivers such as the Deschutes and Snake can have wicked afternoon winds, making it extremely difficult for all but the most experienced casters to fish floating lines. Many anglers believe the Rage casts better in all conditions than traditional Scandi lines, because of its shorter, more aggressive...

Airflo Skagit Compact F.I.S.T.  Shooting Head Airflo, Skagit Compact, F.I.S.T.  Shooting Head, is popular with, steelhead and Chinook salmon anglers.
Price: $59.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: SKCFIST -

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,...

Airflo Skagit Compact G2 Airflo Skagit Compact G2
Price: $59.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: SKC2 -

This is the most recent version of the famous Airflo Skagit Compact shooting heads that emerged about 10-years ago and took their place as one of the most popular Skagit type heads ever produced. The original Skagit Compact is still very popular with many of the worlds most knowledgeable steelhead/salmon anglers and guides. The new G2 (generation two) is a little shorter overall than its predecessor. It has a slightly longer rear taper so that an angler can leave a little more shooting line...

Airflo Skagit Scout
Price: $59.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: SKCSCT -

Skagit Scout Skagit for one-hand and two-hand rods The ultimate one-hand Skagit line. These lines are perfect for single-hand spey casting and for anglers using switch rods in places with minimal casting room. Utilizing the best all-polyurethane construction and an improved, supple coating, the Skagit Scout heads open up water that is unfishable with other lines. They allow trout, steelhead, and salmon fishermen to use their single-hand and switch rods to cast any sink tip in their bag. Head...

Airflo Skagit Switch G2 Shooting Head Airflo Skagit Switch Floating Heads
Price: $54.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: SKCSW -

The need had become blatantly obvious--a shorter head to match the now extremely popular Switch rods, and shorter Spey rods. But the "right" line to match these versatile tools had been unavailable, until now. The new Skagit Switch line hits the mark dead on. Shorter in length than the Airflo Skagit Compact, this new addition to the Skagit group of lines vary from 19.5' to 20' with 5 sizes ranging from 480 to 600 grains. Designed to load fast action switch rods in tight casting situations,...

Beulah Tonic Spey/Skagit Shooting Head Beulah Tonic Spey/Skagit Shooting Head
Price: $55.00
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: TS -

These Skagit style heads are designed to balance perfectly with Beulah Platinum and Beulah Onyx series two-hand rods. They also mate up well with most other brands of rods. as with all the Skagit Lines, Tonics are designed to turn over a tip. These lines work well with every kind of tip that is normally used for steelhead and salmon fishing: M.O.W. tips, iMOW tips, FLO Tips & lengths of T-Line in various weights & lengths. ...

Beulah Tonic Switch Shooting Head Beulah Tonic Switch Shooting Head
Price: $55.00
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: TSH -

These shorter heads are designed specifically to fit perfectly with Beulah Platinum Switch Rods, but they also balance with Switch Rods from other makers, and load shorter Spey rods from all manufacturers. These very compact heads are great in any application that requires a more compact casting stroke, or when fishing smaller rivers, or even in some cases where larger flies are needed. ...

OPST Commando Head OPST, Commando Head, short-head, Skagit-style, single-hand rod, two-hand rod, appropriate for trout, steelhead, salmon, bass, saltwater, fresh water use
Price: $54.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: PS- -

OPST's Commando HeadsOPST's Commando Heads represent the culmination of decades of innovation in Skagit casting by Ed Ward and Jerry French. Ed and Jerry were at the forefront of the "Skagit Revolution," and they have been refining Skagit fishing techniques ever since. ...

RIO InTouch Skagit Max GameChanger Box, Picture
Price: $59.99
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: 6-191 -

RIO’s INTOUCH SKAGIT MAX GAMECHANGER heads are the perfect delivery system for casting large flies and sink tips. The heads feature RIO’s Multi Density Control - a seamless blend of three or four different densities that ensures the smoothest transition of energy when casting, and the very best depth control when fishing. Say goodbye to hinging, weak casts and poor turnover with these killer heads. Each head is built with an ultra-low stretch core for the maximum in sensitivity and...

RIO Skagit iFlight Spey Shooting Head RIO Skagit iFlight Spey Shooting Head
Price: $54.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: 209 -

RIO’s iFlight heads are powerful, intermediate Skagit heads (with a short floating back section) that give anglers deep, slow swings, and cast large flies and the fastest of sinking tips with exceptional ease. The weight distribution deeply loads rods for long, powerful casts, while the subtle taper design generates smooth, easy loops. All Skagit heads are built on an ultra-low stretch core for the maximum in casting and fishing sensitivity. Introduced in 2013, the iFlight gained instant...

RIO Skagit Max Long Shooting Head RIO Skagit Max Long Shooting Head
Price: $59.99
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: 6-207 -

RIO was the first to introduce the world to commercially made Skagit lines. Several generations with incremental improvements followed. RIO Skagit Max heads cast large flies and the fastest of sinking tips with exceptional ease. The unique weight distribution deeply loads rods for long, powerful casts, while the subtle taper design generates smooth, easy loops and long, long distances. These lines are built on RIO's ConnectCore with a more sensitive feel for detection of those cold water...

RIO Skagit Max Shooting Head RIO Skagit Max Shooting Head
Price: $59.99
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: 6-211 -

RIO was the first to introduce the world to commercially made Skagit lines. Several generations with incremental improvements followed. RIO Skagit Max heads cast large flies and the fastest of sinking tips with exceptional ease. The unique weight distribution deeply loads rods for long, powerful casts, while the subtle taper design generates smooth, easy loops and long, long distances. These lines are built on RIO's ConnectCore with a more sensitive feel for detection of those cold water...

RIO Skagit Max Short Shooting Head RIO Skagit Max Short Shooting Head
Price: $59.99
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: 6-2 -

RIO was the first to introduce the world to commercially made Skagit lines. Several generations with incremental improvements followed. RIO Skagit Max heads cast large flies and the fastest of sinking tips with exceptional ease. The unique weight distribution deeply loads rods for long, powerful casts, while the subtle taper design generates smooth, easy loops and long, long distances. These lines are built on RIO's ConnectCore with a more sensitive feel for detection of those cold water...

RIO Skagit Trout Max Shooting Head RIO Skagit Trout Max Shooting Head
Price: $49.99
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: 6 -

RIO's Skagit Trout Max heads are short, powerful shooting heads designed for lightweight Trout Spey and Switch rods, as well as for single handed rods. Their mass distribution allows for easy, sustained-anchor casts with sink tips and weighted flies. Coupled with floating tips and long tapered leaders, the heads delicately present nymphs and soft hackles. The short head length makes them fantastic tools for casting in the tightest of quarters, and well suited to a wide range of fly...

Royal Wulff Ambush Line in the box, picture
Price: $89.95
Availability: In Stock 1-2 day
Item #: AMSHORT -

Royal Royal Wulff Ambush Short Head Line For Both Single-Hand and Trout Spey Rods Royal Wulff's multi-purpose line is designed to roll cast easily with single-handed rods. Promotes easy roll-casting for distance in close quarters. Designed with a short, 15 to 16.3 foot long, compact head, marked by a color change in the line, from bright yellow to blue. This "change point" creates a visual reference point for intuitive casting. Front-loaded with a thin running line, it excels at distance with...

Skagit Lines and Skagit Line Evolution


Skagit lines/heads are short and heavy to facilitate casting large weighted flies for all species of anadromous salmonid fish. Most Skagit lines are shooting heads equipped with a sinking tip and shooting line. Some Skagit lines have been made all in one piece with an integrated shooting line, body and sinking tip.

The term “Skagit Line” is attributed to Ed Ward, who was a fly fishing guide on the Skagit River in Northern Washington. On the Spey Pages discussion group, he was describing a new form of fishing with two-hand rods for winter steelhead. He called it Spey casting. An angler from the British Isles challenged Ed and said that his approach wasn't really traditional Spey casting, so Ed, who tries to get along with everyone said, "Okay, then we'll call it Skagit casting." The terminology stuck in the form of Skagit casting, and Skagit lines. There are now companies marketing special flies, leaders, tying material, etc. using the term Skagit and even pure Skagit.

Harry Lemire modified a Cortland weight forward saltwater line into a short, belly weight-forward changeable-tip line to fit his two hand fly rod. Trey Combs noted this line in his great 1990 book “Steelhead Fly Fishing.” Many people started copying that line. And many innovations resulted purely from the result that they couldn’t obtain the same Cortland line that Harry used.

They couldn't get the Cortland line because Mark Bachmann, co-owner of the The Fly Fishing Shop in Welches, Oregon, who in conjunction with the Cortland rep, Randy Sholes, had made a deal for all of those lines. Those lines had been designed and ordered by some European customer, who then refused delivery and Cortland had been sitting on them for more than a year. They were very glad to be rid of them.

When the front taper was removed at the .070” diameter, the head of this line weighed about 550-grain. The head portion of the line measured about thirty feet long. Eleven weight Cortland full sinking shooting heads were cut into 12’ lengths for sinking tips. These, and severed tips from the original front taper, were loop to loop connected to the main line. And with a 12’ sinking tip installed, the head was around 42’ long. Young Brian Silvey was one of the first to cast and fish with it. He termed it “The Launcher Line.” We modified and sold the 144 lines we bought from Cortland over a two year period.


During this same period, there were lots of other anglers who were cutting up fly lines and building modified lines to fish on their Spey rods. Ed Ward, Mike Kinney, Dec Hogan, and Scott O’Donnell were some of the major innovators, followed by hordes of others in search of the perfect steelhead line.

At the time, many anglers in the established fly fishing community were a pretty conservative lot, and didn’t readily accept this radical new Skagit style of fly fishing. There were a lot of discussions about whether real “gentlemen” were actually allowed to fish with such lines. After all, the most elite set of anglers had been fishing double taper lines for several generations. Was there any need to change?

Jim Vincent, founder of the RIO fly line company, offered a solution. He built a changeable tip Spey line with a 54’ head, which was slightly less improper than the Launcher Line. Jim had a better business education and connections than the Launcher Line bunch. The raw material ran out for the Launcher, and the rest is history.

Jim’s RIO line was called the WindCutter. It reigned supreme for a number of years. During this period, we bought WindCutters and modified them into Skagit lines and sold lots of them. Our sales numbers caught the attention of the RIO company and they built their own version of the Skagit line. The first models were integrated with a shooting line.

Many anglers cut off the shooting line and attached monofilament shooting lines to get longer casting distances. RIO built a shooting head version of their Skagit line. The demand was instantaneous. Eventually, many other companies copied the Skagit line shooting head concept. Today it is still evolving. Short Skagit heads are becoming popular for fishing areas where there is very little back-cast room. Short Skagit shooting heads like the OPST Commando are offered in lengths of 12' to 18'. These types of Skagit heads are very popular with trout and steelhead anglers who use single-hand or switch rods.

“Traditional” (there’s that word again) Skagit shooting heads had initially evolved with longer salmon rods of 14’ -15’. The accepted ratio of line length had settled in at less than three times the rod length by 2000. By 2004, it was down to 30’. But in 2006, it was 27’. Then in 2008, the normal Skagit head length was around 22’ and stayed that way until around 2013. Now some Skagit heads are barely longer than the rods they will be used on. This change in Skagit head length was driven by the fact that two-hand rods were also evolving. With the advent of new rod building materials and more modern taper designs, rods were getting lighter in weight and shorter in length. My current favorite Skagit setups for local use incorporates 13’ #7 rods and 20’-22' heads.

The following is copied from the RIO web site, and would be hard to be improved upon:

“Skagit lines do need a front tip added (whether floating or sinking), and a shooting line at the back before they are ready to fish.”


Original Skagit shooting heads were no more than chunks of other fly lines modified to serve the purpose of providing the weight necessary to cast big flies and heavy sinking tips. The thought was that these heads were too short to need stabilization. They were made from level lines, which are now commonly called "beer can" heads (because they didn't taper). It was a few years later that it was discovered that Skagit heads need to be tapered precisely because they are short.

During a cast, all fly lines extend themselves while rolling down a loop. During that cast, forward momentum falls off quickly when the line is no longer “in the loop.” The longer the line remains in the loop, the further it can be cast. Tapered fly lines tend to stay in the loop a little longer than beer cans. To our knowledge, the Airflo Skagit Compact was the first commercially available tapered Skagit head. It is now in its second generation and is offered from 450-grains to 750-grains.

Now most standard Skagit heads are tapered and range in lengths from 19’ to 28’. There are head lengths to match rods from 11’ through 15’. Having the right length of line to fit the length of your rod is important.