Confused about "Sinking Tip Lines"

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by wlai, May 22, 2013.

  1. I'm a fairly new to fly fishing and so far have only used floating lines for SRC.. But I'm thinking I can get a lot more fishing in if I fish at urban lakes before/after work, and so are starting to look at stillwater rigs. I know I can mat my WF#F lines to a sinking tip, like those by AirFlo or Rio, but have read quite a great deal about them that's not so positive.

    I've also read recommendation on "sink tip lines", but I'm not sure what that means exactly. Are they talking about a specific fly line, or are they talking about some kind of off-the-shelf line integrating a floating running line with a sinking tip? What would be a Rio/AirFlo/SA product that represents this category?

    What would be a good recommendated line for me to try for planters trouts (or natives, I guess), or maybe even bass, at some local lakes like Pine or Green or Ballinger?


  2. I've never found sink tip lines to be effective in still water situations. I would rather use a full sink or intermediate line. Full sink lines, in particular Deep 7 Rio's , get deep fast when fish are holding on the bottom. Intermediate lines work the weedy edges better and work well when fish are active in the upper levels of the lake.

    Probably 90 percent of my fishing is done with a full sink line, it gets me down to the fish faster. That's my 2 cents...
    tyeoneon, GAT, dbfly and 1 other person like this.
  3. I also use a full sink line for most of my stillwater trout fishing. It's usually a type 3.
  4. Sink tip lines are just what they sound like. The front section sinks. They're readily available from the factory that way, multi-tip line systems usually have a variety of sinking tips, and some people make their own. All the line manufacturers have a variety of sink tips available with the sinking portion being of different lengths and sink rates. For example, a 15ft type 6 sink tip has a 15ft sinking section on the front of the line with a sink rate of 6 inches per second.
    Most people seem to consider them just a river application but I use them all the time in lakes. They work great for stocked fish that are in the top few feet of water.
  5. Thanks! I think I got my confusion, at least part of it: there are sink tips, and then there are full sink lines. I have heard lots of talk about sink tips but not full sink lines on the forum, I think, which is why I thought there is only one "sink"

    So I guess my question is how they are difference in usage, I.e. when and how do you use one vs another? I mean I assume that both will get your nymph or streamer to the depth you need to, no?
  6. Try a Cortland Clear Intermediate Line. It's a very slow full sink 1 1/2" per second. Perfect for lakes! You can fish the top 5 ft. of water along or above weed lines. You'll catch a lot of fish with an olive wooly bugger.

    Krusty likes this.
  7. I also use sinking lines for most of my still water fishing, mostly type V. They are a different breed to learn to cast. It is really tough to pull 10 feet of line from under the water and get a good cast out of it. I usually do a roll cast to bring it to the surface and start my back cast as soon as the line settles on the surface. I also do the cast a bit to the side to prevent the line from crashing down on my head on the forward cast. I stop the forward cast a little sooner than with a floating line and try to aim the cast higher than normal. I can shoot a fair amount of line this way.
  8. Intermediate lines have kind of overshadowed sinktips in recent years.
    When I first started flyfishing 30 years ago, it seemed everyone had a sinktip in their arsenal of lines. Cortland 10' sinktip was generally the line of choice.
    I caught a lot of fish back in the day using a sinktip in many different fishing situations.
    They are still a good line to have today and can be used off the beaches, in stillwaters and in rivers.
    If you do decided to purchase one, I'd recommend getting one with a ghost (clear) tip.
    Jeff Dodd likes this.
  9. Yup, for many moons, sink-tips were all the rage and work well enough in rivers with streamers but are effective only in specific circumstances on stillwaters. Most of the time I use either a full fast sinking or intermediate sinking line for subsurface presentations but once in awhile, I'll try a sink-tip while trolling streamers very close to the shore line.

    The very effective, intermediate and slow full sinking lines pretty much knocked off stink-tips for the majority of subsurface stillwater presentations. ....but I'm not going to toss mine just the same.

    I carry a Cortland Ghost Tip sink-tip line just in a case I want to try trolling streamers close to the weeds.
  10. Thanks all. This is very helpful. I wonder if I keep reading about sinktips because of the popularity of salmon/steelhead fishing on this forum, and that's what get used for that type of fishery?

    If you don't mind some more question:

    - Would you recommend that my first stillwater line purchase be an Intermediate, a full sinking Type III, or a full sinking Type V? I'm wondering about stripping an line that's underwater, and whether the deeper the line, the harder the retrieve?
    - If I want to go deeper on an intermediate line, do I just do a longer count and wait for it to sink, or do I attach some weight to it?

    Thanks, together with a float tube I'm eager to hit the lakes...
  11. Each line has it's place, but just to simplify I went with a Type IV and split the difference between the III and V. The lakes around here are not that deep, so I don't think you need to get down in a huge hurry. I had conflicting advice between the III and the V, so for lack of a consistent theory, I went in between.

    After fishing it a while, I think I would have gone lighter towards the Type III rather than heaver towards the Type V.

    I use a clear intermediate for beach fishing, but I feel that a floating line and a longer leader can cover about the same depth of still water.

    No problem with the retrieve at all, although I usually can tell when I'm really deep down just by feel. The big issue with full sinks is casting and line management. The line kinks up more, and it really does sink, so when you have a big loop of it under your legs it's not like you can just throw it out there. I usually strip it in, roll cast or short cast it out, use the water to load it before it sinks, and make just a single back cast with a double haul. You get used to it quickly.

    The ideal setup is to have two rods strung up, one floating and one full sink. Nothing makes for fumbly fingers switching out lines like a sudden hatch and fish jumping all around you.
  12. 95% of my flyfishing is now on stillwaters. I use three primary lines and normally catch fish. I don't beach fish but stick to fresh waters. I use a dry line, clear, intermediate sinking line and a fast sinking type V line. Like I mentioned, I also carry a sink tip but don't fish it very often.

    I use a depth/fish finder so I can determine fairly closely where the fish are holding. One of the three lines I carry will normally cover all the different feeding zones.

    As Darryl noted, you will not find any difference in retrieving a full fasting sinking line or an intermediate sinking line.

    I believe you can cover the majority of your bases with the three basic lines. All the guys I fish with also use the same three styles of lines.
  13. So.. what wt line are you guys using for these different types of lines??
  14. I use five weight lines... regardless if the rod is rated 4 or 5 ... my 4 weight Winston has no problem casting 5 weight lines.
  15. Full sink or similar lines for the most part only come in 4+ weights, typically 5+ for the heavier lines. So for me I used a 5wt on a 5wt rod for the Type IV full sink, and string up my 3wt with 3wt or 4wt floating line for any dry fly / emerger action. They are different enough rods and approaches to provide entertainment value for the lakes I fish.

    As GAT points out, a fast action rod would be completely fine with over-lining.
  16. Bear in mind that there is a lot of personal preference expressed in the above posts. Those preferences come from a lot of experienced lake fishermen, too. Read that to mean that there isn't a single best solution (although all are pretty much opposed to using a sinktip line in stillwaters).

    There will be plenty of times when you will want to have a floating line for fishing lakes. The lakes are starting to warm up and there will be plenty of bug action on the top with fish looking up to take dries or emergers fished in the surface film or top 2-3 inches. I always carry a rod with a floating line with me in my tube starting about now and through the summer. On relatively shallow lakes, it may be the only rod I'll carry. With a longish leader (11-12 feet), and a weighted fly, I can even fish to a depth of 3-4 feet easily enough.

    However, in colder water and deeper lakes, I'll want to have a sinking line, and may carry only that when fishing winter or early spring. There are times when an intermediate (usually clear in today's market) line will be ideal, but there will likely be times when you want to fish deeper, without waiting all day for a 1.5"/sec. line to get deep. In those circumstances you will want a type III or denser line.

    If you are just getting into fishing lakes, and already have a floating line, I would recommend getting a type III sinking line. If you string two rods when you fish a lake, one with a floater and one with a type III sinker, you can cover the depth that an intermediate line would reach, but an intermediate won't do the surface or very deep easily.

    Denser lines (e.g., type IV or V) are for fishing quite deep. They are more difficult to cast, hard to fish anywhere but deep (for the most part), and are, in my opinion, more specialized in their application. For the urban lakes (and many other lowland lakes) you mentioned wanting to fish, I wouldn't go for a line like one of these.

    So, my long-winded preface leads to my opinion, which is to get a type III sinker and carry it AND you floating line strung on separate rods. If you only have one rod, and so need to pick one line as an alternate option to your floater for fishing lakes, you might consider a clear intermediate, but even then I think a type III sinker would be just as useful.

    wlai likes this.
  17. The reason we use the super fast, full sinking lines is because some of the lakes we fish are quite deep. If my fish/depth finder is indicating the fish are hugging the bottom... which is quite common during the cold of winter and the heat of summer... I use my fastest sinking line.

    I don't have the patience to wait a half hour for a medium speed sinking line to reach the holding zone at the bottom of the lake.:)
  18. Krusty and wlai like this.
  19. I know Denny... he PhotoShops all the fish he catches to make them look larger in the photos... :D

    Just kidding. Anyone who uses a SuperCat the same as I do is tops in my book! We SuperCat stillwater flyfishers stick together and have a secret handshake:)
    TaylinLoop likes this.

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