Full sinking versus sink tip line [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Full sinking versus sink tip line

06-27-2004, 12:32 PM
For years I've used only floating and full sinking lines (various sink rates), never a sink tip line. I'm about to buy some new flylines and I've started to wonder whether I should consider a sink tip line instead of (or along with) a fulll sinking line. Does anyone have any thoughts on the merits of full sinking lines versus sink tips? Having never used the sink tip lines, I'm curious whether there are any fishing situations where I'd find sink tips more effective than full sinkers.

(I have used interchangeable tips recently on a spey rod, but I'm thinking here of regular sinktip lines without interchangeable tips. The advantage of interchangeable tips is obvious--increased flexibility--but I'm curious about fishing effectiveness, not flexibility, since I find changing spools no harder than changing tips.)

06-27-2004, 12:49 PM
I prefer sink tips, but Iím fishing the river for Steelhead 99% of the time. These situations require you to change depth all the time and changing a tip is a snap. Instead of having four lines with different sink rates, you have one with tips. Lake fishing might be another story, but if and when I do that, Iím throwing a dry line. Fishing Chronomids twenty feet down is a whole other ballgame.

06-27-2004, 12:59 PM

I understand the flexibility advantage . . . but just in terms of fishing effectiveness do you think the sink tip fishes better than a full sink (or does it make any difference at all)?

Nooksack Mac
06-27-2004, 02:28 PM
The first sinking lines to hit the market were full-sinkers, such as the Sci. Anglers Wet Cel. A lot of us tried them in stream fishing, and immediately discovered that typical stream currents pulled an increasingly large belly into the line, which was hard to control by mending, since it was all underwater. I suspect that the first floating belly/sinking tip line was spliced and tried immediately. That floating belly makes it so much easier to mend, and therefore, to control the fly's behavior underwater. Sinking lines are at their best in lakes and saltwater (even though ocean currents can present their own problems).

06-27-2004, 02:33 PM
As I do more research on this topic, I've found the following advantages of sink tips over full sinking lines:

*More flexible (with interchangeable tips)
*Easier to cast (or at least to pick up off the water)
*Easier to see a strike when drifting a nymph (can see end of floating part of line move)
*Easier to mend
*Can be used to make a large floating fly dive and return to the surface

On the other hand, the full sinking line seems to have an advantage in three areas:
*Gets down deeper for a given line type (i.e., type 6 full sink goes deeper than type 6 sink tip)
*Doesn't hinge when casting
*Makes a straighter line from rod tip to fish, making it easier to feel strikes and make hook ups

Any other advantages/disadvantages to add to this list?

06-27-2004, 03:58 PM
Each line has a purpose and I will never get rid of the tons I have bought over the years. Most of my work is done with tips now, but I am ready if I should ever happen to find myself on a lake. At 150 hours plus a year on the water, full sink lines are just not practical. With tips, I can still work the upper ten feet of the water column. The question is, will you be fishing lakes more or the river? If both, then buy both. A guy can pick apart a situation making it more complex than it has to be because he is worried about wasting cash. Just forget about it and buy everything you see. You know your going to end up owning it eventually. Your next question will be which brand. Buy them all and go fish. Hurry up, your burning daylight.

06-27-2004, 04:21 PM
Just forget about it and buy everything you see. You know your going to end up owning it eventually.

How true that is! Just thinking about the sinktip line has pretty much guaranteed I'll be buying one in a few weeks.

06-28-2004, 05:13 PM
I prefer sinktips for two reasons:

1. Increased visibility and ability to judge the direction of the line especially in moving water. I have a really tough time with this with full sinking lines. Dark line going straight down right off the tip of the rod makes it hard to judge what the fly is doing. I've found that the increased visibility of the line greatly increases my ability to fish it effectively.

2. More snags with full sinking lines. If your fishing the bottom of the water column I've found that full sinking lines run along the bottom dragging the fly through rocks and other structure. With tips you get a downward angle from rod tip to fly but the floating section keeps it off the bottom reducing the number of hang ups. I also have found that you get more of a belly with sinking lines because the whole line wants to sink but the rod is pulling up creating the belly. Sink tips give you more of a straight line diagnol from fly to rod increasing ability to feel strikes.

Hope that helps,

06-29-2004, 08:49 AM
I'm echoing some comments already made but I prefer the sink tip for the ability to mend. My brother prefers the full sink for the added depth.

06-29-2004, 11:27 AM
Denny Rickards in Fly-Fishing Stillwaters says, "The purpose of a fly is to match or simulate a particular insect (food source). the retrieve brings life to the fly, but the fly line is the vehicle that makes it happen. From an angling viewpoint, the purpose of any fly line is to hold your fly at the depth fish are feeding for as long as possible." "When trout feed on ascending insects, a floating or sinktip line is a good choice. A full-sinking line is a better choice, however, when fish are feeding on leeches, scuds, dragonfly nymphs or baitfish. These food sources are found either moving horizontally, and on or near bottom where they are most effectively imitated with retrieves possible only with full-sinking lines."

For steelhead, I use floating or sinktip lines, almost exclusively. The one exception might be suspended fish near tidewater where full-sink lines can be an advantage. That would be true for suspended salmon, as well.

solo- well designed sinktips do not hinge either. That has been a problem in the past when there was too big a change in density between the floating and sink parts of the line or tip. For example, if you have a T14 tip attached to eight weight belly, you will get a bad hinge. Attached to 12 Wt or larger belly it works fine. Actually, I think Ed Ward makes it work attached to 11 Wt for some of the lighter rods like the Sage 7136.

Sharp Steelie
06-29-2004, 04:16 PM
Just concuring with some of the comments above - in my opinion,
creative mending is extremely important when fly fishing for
Steelhead and Salmon. I stick with floating lines and sinktips and
am always ready to switch as the conditions warrant. Even a
very sloppy cast can quickly become effective with the proper
mending - I stay away from full sinking lines - not enough control
of the fly.


Willie Gunn
06-29-2004, 05:03 PM
In defence of the full sinking line.
Full sinkers are easier to speycast than sunktips, you just roll them to the surface then start the cast. With sinktips there is little control of the lift.
To control the speed you simply alter tha angle of the cast, to fish the fly slowly throw a long line with a narrow angle the quickly before the line settles thrrow in a big memd feeding more line in if you wish. Sunk lines fisher slower than sunk tips as the deeper you sink the slowert the current.
A sunk line gets down quickly compared with sunk tips

Big K1
06-29-2004, 07:05 PM
For river fishing I use tips. If I have to be deeper than 6' I leave it for the gear chuckers. I find tips to be a pleasure to cast. I use 35'- 45' heads including 15' tips in various densities.