Techy Thursday - Airflo Skagit Sink Tips

Chris Dore Airflo Sink Tips

There has been a massive surge in two handed fly fishing over the past several years on the NZ scene and many are asking why the availability of kit is so skagit oriented. That’s an easy one. With the majority of kiwi anglers fishing smaller waters over the warmer months with their single handers and dusting off the spey kit over winter, sink tips are a must, and you need kit that can deliver them to where the fish are. Single handed, trout spey or full length spey rods, there is a full range of skagit heads to suit your style.

For those wanting a lighter, scandi type option, the hybrid Airflo Rage Compact Head is a popular choice, better designed to deal with our ever constant winds.

Over the past couple of weeks we have looked closely at skagit head offerings and running lines. Now we are delving into your skagit tip options, those sinky things that get your flies down where they are needed. Here are a few considerations...


I find most anglers can comfortably handle 10-12’ tips with ease, and this is likely why most ‘ready to fish’ options are available in these lengths. The longer your sink tip, the longer it will hold your fly at depth throughout the swing so if you’re needing a long, deep swing say across a wider channel you would choose a tip at the longer end of the scale. I carry Airflo 14’ Custom Cut Tips for this. If you need to get deep in a targeted gutter, or are swinging boulder fields then a shorter tip around 8ft with a longer leader will keep you up out of the junk but in the catching zone with less fouling up.

The length of your rod, and your skagit head can also contribute to your choice of sink tip length as can your stroke length. Most casters don’t want to exceed a 3:1 ratio when it comes to head + tip vs rod length for practicality or even 2.5:1. It’s always handy to carry a few custom cut tips in the shorter, and longer range, especially if you employ multiple rods.


Let’s touch on grains. The T in a T tip simply refers to tungsten and the number corresponds to grains per foot. So T-7 is simply a tungsten impregnated sink tip weighing in at 7 grains per foot. Likewise its heavier counterpart, the T-14 tip is a tungsten tip weighing 14 grains per foot. Your T-14 is heavier than your T-7. Match the weight according to the depth you wish to fish at, and the speed of the flow. There are ways to get a lighter tip deeper by employing mends, walking and other methods of removing tension on your line or by employing an intermediate compact skagit head, check it out.

Choosing Your Tip

You can’t expect to throw 15’ of T-14 on your 160gr head, and likewise, your 4wt trout spey probably isn’t optimal for digging and sending 15’ of T-14. Think of the size of your flies and the depth you expect to have to fish them. Choose your head weight accordingly, and the rod you need to handle it. If I’m heading out to the Clutha flowing at 300 cumecs, I know I’m going to have to get deep behind the drop offs. Weighted patterns on T-14 and 3’ leader are called for and so my 420-480gr skagit heads are what I’ll be turning to. This means rigging up my Scott 12’6” 6wt L2H.

Conversely, the Lower Waiau at 20 cumecs with standard sized buggers on an Airflo 10’ intermediate polyleader can happily be sent on my 210gr Airflo Skagit Scout, or similar rig on a single hand 6wt or 11’ 4wt Primal Run two hander.

Now let’s look at our 2020 sink tip options...

Airflo 10’ Salmon / Steelhead Polyleaders

These are a great option for swinging soft hackles, or standard sized streamers on lighter gear. They offer better presentation in softer water and are easily owned by single hand lines, or lighter heads.

Airflo Flo Tips

This is the ‘loop on and go’ option and one I use the most often. With 7.5’ of T material and a 2.5’ intermediate butt to smooth out the cast, these are anywhere and anytime options which take the hassle out of tips. Ranging from T-7 through to 11ips T-18 these bad boys should always be kept within reach.

Airflo Custom Cut Tips

These are the level ‘get down quick’ sections of T material looped at both ends, ready to cut and customise to your needs. 18’ tips are available from T-7 through to T-18, and 20’ tips are available in both T-10 and T-16. A handy option for getting deeper when the river requires it.

Want to know everything about building your own sink tips? Check this out for all you need to know and more.

Next week we talk single handed spey casting and what you need to make life easier.