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The pro's of the short skagit line.


This subject seems to raise eyebrows with some fly fisherman, and even leave a nasty taste in the mouth of others.

I'm not sure why but when short skagit lines hit the industry it shook the very foundations of fly casting and a lot of folk were not keen.

The nay sayers came out of the wood work to condemn these short lines that all the who's who of fly fishing were talking about.

Jerry French, Ed Ward, Tom Larimer, Trevor Covich, Ben Paull.....the list goes on.

Airflo, Rio, Wulff and SA all have their own versions of short Skagit type shooting heads or integrated lines, with OPST being not only the only line designer that exclusively makes short Skagit lines, but the first to make a true short Skagit line, the Commando head series.

So what makes me some people blow a fuse when it comes to wrapping their heads around these lines.

Well historically it could be something to do with the AFTM line standards that most fly fishers were raised on, ie a 3, 4 or 5wt line has a mass weighing X and anything outside of that is not to the standard.

Ref to the table in blue.

By the AFTM standard a 5wt rod uses 140gr +/- 6gr, yet with OPST commando head a 5wt uses 200grains and thats all squashed into just 13.5ft instead of 140gr spread out over 30odd feet in a conventional line.

Of course there is rhyme to this reason.

The standard 5wt line is far better suited to dry fly fishing than the 200gr commando head, you could do it with the commando line but its not ideally suited.

The impetus behind these short skagit lines is all around swinging down and across first and foremost, they excell at bowling over heavier sink tips often associated with winter fishing where swinging streamers (as simple as a wolly buggers or as complex as an intruder) is a very effective means of covering the river to present your fly in front of other wise quite lethargic fish in the depths of your favourite river.

Where these lines truly shine is being able to squeeze into spaces where most people cant make a cast, be it spey or overhead.

Referring to the above picture, the below pic is a 15ft 350gr opst head, the top pic is a longer belly spey line, now its not to dismiss the longer lines, they of course have a place, especially on bigger rivers and where room is abundant behind the caster.

But put the bush line 10ft behind him and his dloop is all sort of tangled in the bushes.

Put the push line 10ft behind me in the bottom and im still making casts no problems.

Did your brain just start thinking of spots where this applies, where you have walked passed, possibly seen fish, but not been able to cast to them for lack of room behind you to make an effective dloop?

They are everywhere when you look at the pools you fish (or don't).

Its not all bells and whistles, short lines means less time to turn over in the air so shorter casting distances, they will, however, fish all the effective casting distances very well.

The great news is you dont have to go out and buy a new double hand rod (but you can if you want, Trout spey is great fun) you can use your single hand rods all year to effectively fish through summer and winter.

So don't be scared hommie, ask questions, we have the answers, and get yourself set up to swing some flies this winter instead of sitting at home thinking about all the spots you couldnt fish 😉

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