Best Sink Tip Fly Line For Trout

Best Sink Tip Fly Line for Trout

Fly fishing in rivers brings a whole new dimension into the sport of fly fishing: moving water.  And sometimes pretty fast-moving water at that.

Big streamers and wet flies in the current can be tremendously effective for large trout, salmon, and steelhead.  But first, you need to get your fly down to the depth where the fish are feeding.

There are a number of ways to get your fly to sub-surface feeding fish.  Those methods all have their advantages and disadvantages.  We need to decide which type of sinking tip fly line will perform the best for your needs?

Which sinking tip fly line is best for your needs it will depend on your preferences and how you intend to fish. 

Why Choose A Sinking Tip?

Before you select a sinking tip fly line you need to know why the characteristics of a sink-tip are advantageous in moving water.  Just like full-sinking lines, sinking tip fly lines are made to sink at a specific rate that is given in inches per second (IPS). 

While casting, the slack from a sinking tip line won’t sink around your feet, tangled in the rocks, and get hung up on river bottom as a full sinking line will.  This is because the main running line on the sinking tip line is actually floating line, and only the tip will sink.

Sinking tip lines will allow you to get your fly down while avoiding the tangled mishaps that can easily occur in the shallows.

It is obvious that you don’t want to fish a fast sinking tip line in the water that is too shallow, because you’ll snag bottom.  With that in mind, the most important consideration is at what depth you expect to find the fish feeding.

Casting a fast sink tip in relatively shallow water will require a faster retrieve.  But if a fast retrieve is what draws strikes, then a fast sinking line might exactly what you need.  That will also likely be the case if you need your fly to get down quickly due to fast-moving current.

 If you find that the fish are prone to take during a slow retrieve, or even during pauses in your retrieve, then you will need a slow sink tip line to avoid losing all your flies on the bottom.

For your best chance of success, select a sinking tip or full sink fly line suited for the water you intend to fish.  Some of that comes with experience and knowing the water you are fishing. 

Most of the anglers who are just dabbling in the sport of fly fishing use entry-level gear. Even the most experienced fly anglers usually start with inexpensive fishing gear and upgrade as needed.

Should I Use a Sink-Tip or Full-Sink Fly Line?

We get asked this question a lot

Success in fly fishing is all about opportunity. Sometimes, the opportunity will present itself in the form of a caddis hatch and rising, feeding fish. This is when you should tie on a dry fly and go for it.

Other times, insect and fish activity are not as obvious. That’s when you create your own opportunity. One way to do it is to tie on a streamer, go deep, and do your best trick a nice trout.

Fly Fishing with a Sinking Line
Fly Fishing with a Sinking Line

Just as there are specialized dry fly-fishing lines for dry flies, there are also specialized lines for streamers. If you want to get serious about fishing below the surface, you need to familiarize yourself with these types of fly lines.

Sink-Tip Fly Lines

Just like the name implies, only the front of these lines sinks the remainder of the line floats.

Different lines offer sink tips that have different densities and sink rates. Pick the one that matches your needs.

Some sink-tip lines feature changeable front sections. You can different sink rates to match your fishing conditions.

Sinking tips will get your fly down and make it easier for you to mend the line and get a proper drift or swing.

Integrated sinking tips with large diameter midsections will let you cast heavier flies further with fewer false casts.

When using sink tips, just strip the line to where the sinking section begins. Then start your cast, double haul it once, and then shoot the line forward with limited effort.

Full Sink Fly Lines

While sinking tips can get a fly down, sometimes you’ll need more power to get a big streamer to the bottom of a fast-moving current or deep lake. This is when a sinking line makes the most sense.

These lines are available in different densities and sink rates, so you can match lines to the way you’ll be fishing.

This will help get your fly down faster and in the zone quicker. This is a key factor when your streamer fishing in fast current or from a boat floating downstream.

Traditionally, the middle sections of sinking lines sank deeper than the thinner ends. This caused a big bow in the line which made the fly rise above the line’s belly.

While this had its advantages (it’s a great way to fish deep, weedy areas) it made it hard to feel your fly and react to quick takes.

The latest sinking lines are density compensated. This means the tip sinks at the same rate as the midsection. This will help the line maintain a straight connection between you and the fly.

It also keeps you in contact with your fly throughout the retrieve, so you’ll be able to detect the slightest strikes.

When to Use Them

This is something we have all done after a day of fishing dries and nymphs off of a floating line, we switch things up and tie on a streamer.

But trying to cast this big fly with a floating line is awkward. It’s also a lousy way to get it down to where the fish are, even with a string of split shot pressed on the leader.

Sink-tip along with sinking fly lines can muscle big flies around and get them down to where they need to be. If you’re drift fishing and have a few brief shots at fishy looking spots.

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout

Then a sink-tip or sinking line can get your fly right down to where the fish will be. If you’re wading, these lines can keep you in the zone longer and increase the odds of success.

Most streamer-caught fish will hold tight to the structure on the bottom and then rise to chase the fly. With a sinking line, you can swim your flies right across the structure and directly in front of them.

This reduces the distance that a fish has to travel to attack your fly.

Join the “In” Crowd

These days, streamer fishing is more popular than ever. This has a lot to do with the design of the modern sink tip and sinking lines.

Not all that long ago, these lines were very hard and cumbersome to cast and fish.

Today, there are a lot more options that are available to streamer fisherman. They make casting large streamers and getting them to fishy levels easier than ever.

And the big trout that fishermen are consistently catching, proves just how effective this kind of fishing can be.

Dean Jensen

I started fly fishing in 1972 and I have learned quite a bit about this wonderful sport called fly fishing and I want to share some of the things that I have learned.

Recent Posts