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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.
But which type of sinking tip fly line will perform the best for your needs?
That’s why Fly Fishing Atlas brings you our take on the best sinking tip fly lines.
Which type of sinking tip fly line will perform best for your needs will depend on your preferences and how you intend to fish.
We offer a our top choices and explore their strengths and weaknesses.
SF Hi-Viz Fly Fishing Line
The SF Hi-Viz Fly Fishing line is the favorite of many experienced anglers due to its unique construction.
Each weight line provides you with an eleven-foot long sinking tip that is attached to a thicker portion of line.
This innovation goes a long way to eliminating the kick back that most anglers have to put up with when they cast a sink tip line.
You will get a much smoother, natural cast, without the forward dumping which is another common problem when working with a sink tip line.
Another innovation which puts the SF Hi-Viz line at the top of our list is the addition of a welded loop at the front end of the line.
This ensures ease of rigging. The portion of the line that floats on the water is extremely supple.
This is great news for all anglers, but especially those who are fishing on rivers as it allows them to easily control the line.
Because the SF Hi-Viz is a weight forward line, it makes it easier to perform long casts.
Your ability to land the line exactly where you want it in the water is also enhanced, even when the wind is blowing.
JSHANMEI Sinking Top Floating Line
The JSHANMEI Sinking Top Floating Line is a one hundred foot line that provides you with fifteen feet of sinking line and eighty five feet of floating.
Just like the SF Hi-Viz line, the floating portion of the line moves easily, allowing you to easily manipulate the line to keep pace with the fish that you are chasing.
The JSHANMEI Sinking Top Floating Line provides you with two welded loops at the front end of the line to make it easier to rig to your rod.
The line is dual color in green and black. The sink rate of this line is 3 inches per second. That puts it at a moderate rate of sink.
The line also has a PVC coated braided core along with a density coated tip to provide greater control of the fly.
Bozeman FlyWorks Sinking Tip Fly Line
The Bozeman Flyworks Sinking Tip Fly Line is a camouflage line which makes it very difficult for the fish to spot under the water.
The sinking tip of this line allows you to get your line down deep to catch those fish that are lurking beneath the surface of the water.
Your purchase of the Bozeman Flyworks Sinking Tip Fly Line comes with a complimentary fly box.
This is an affordable, quality sinking fly line that matches up to the quality of the more expensive, bigger brand name lines.
The floating portion of this line is delicate enough to allow you to work it to best effect to make sure that the hook is exactly where it needs to be.
Unlike our top two lines, the Bozeman Flyworks Sinking Tip Fly Line does not come with welded loops to help with rigging.
The sink rate of this line is 4-5 inches per second. The sinking portion of the line is also shorter than those lines, at about five feet.
Don’t be put off by the low price; the Bozeman Flyworks Sinking Tip Fly Line is a high quality offering!
Maxcatch Sinking Tip Fly Line
The Maxcatch Sinking Tip Fly Line is especially designed for sub surface fishing, allowing you to get that line down really deep.
The weighted tip design makes casting an easier, more natural casting motion. You get an impressively fast sink rate of 6 inches per second with this line.
The Maxcatch Sinking Tip Fly Line is 100 feet long. The first 15 feet are sinking with the other 85 feet being floating line.
As with our other lines, the floating portion is supple enough for easy control to get the fly just where it needs to be.
The frequency sinking tip is ideal if you are going after such fish as salmon or trout in fast moving waters.
The density compensated tip helps to drive the fly down deep to where the fish are biting.
The Maxcatch Sinking Tip Fly Line is constructed from a PVC coated braided core. The line has a black tip with a royal blue body and running line.
This super slick intermediate running line helps you to perfect those long shooting casts. It provides you with a quick load and a more natural casting motion.
There are no welded loops on the Maxcatch Sinking Tip Fly Line.
How do you use a sinking fly line?
Most sinking fly lines are 90 feet long. The first 10 to 30 feet is the sinking part of the line, depending on the speed and depth of sinking that is required.
The rest of the fly line is a floating line. The floating part of the line will have tiny micro balloons inserted onto the line.
These are designed to enable this part of the fly line to float.
This floating portion is very important as it allows you to more readily control the line. It also helps you to more readily cast the line.
A sinking fly line is designed to be able to be used just like a conventional fly line.
It makes use of the previously mentioned innovations to make it easier to cast and control the line.
Look for a sinking fly line that is evenly weighted. You need the line to get down to the fish’s eye level and move around naturally as an insect would do.
For most applications a sink fly line that is around 250 grain and has a sink rate of 1.5 to 6 inches per second.
What is the sinking fly line used for?
A sinking fly line is used to fish for streamers and nymphs.
These fish catch the majority of their food well below the surface of the water, so the sinking fly line is ideal to entice them to bite.
The part of the fly line that sinks is coated with powdered tungsten. This heaviness causes the line to sink.
Fly lines vary in the amount of tungsten that has been added. This provides you with a range of sink rates.
Lead used to be used for sinking fly lines but has been replaced with the more environmentally friendly tungsten.
How do I know if my fly line is floating or sinking?
The easiest way to check if the fly line is a floating or a sinking line is to check the packaging.
The box will tell you whether the line is a floating or a sinking line. You will also find lines that are labeled as Weight-Forward taper (W/F).
This type of line will be tapered over the first thirty feet, making this portion of the line heavier than the rest. This is the opposite of a sinking fly line.
If your fly line is already out of the packaging, you can tell by looking at it whether it is a floating or a sinking line.
Sinking lines will have mini balloons positioned along the first portion of the line.
This keeps this portion of the line above the surface of the water and will be easy to see.
The final ten to thirty feet of a sinking line will be coated with tungsten which will also be clearly visible to the naked eye.
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.
Like full-sink 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, tangle in the rocks, and get hung up on river bottom like a full sink line will.
That’s because the main running line on sinking tip line is actually floating line, and only the tip will sink.
Sinking tip line allows you to get your fly down, while avoiding the tangled mishaps that easily occur in the shallows.
Obviously you don’t want to fish a fast sinking tip line in 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 the best chance of success, it is important that you select a sinking tip fly line suited for the water you intend to fish.
Some of that comes with experience and knowing the water you are fishing.