Tom Larimer has guided for more than a decade in the Great Lakes, Alaska and Oregon. He currently owns and operates Larimer Outfitters, one of the premier guide services in the Northwest.
He also happens to like fishing on the Kanektok and the Dean. In addition to his hosted week at Alaska West in June of 2010, Tom’s hosting a group at BC West on the Dean in August of 2010 (which amazingly has a couple of spots open – drop us a line to learn more).
When Tom walks about of his cabin at BC West on August 7th and grabs a rod to take fishing, this is the rig he’s going to be grabbin’.
NOTE: This post is from 2009. For the updated version of what Tom’s fishing in 2013, check out this update. Gear has changed!
- Burkheimer 8139-3
- Ross Momentum LT 7
- Airflo Skagit Compact, 600 grains
- 30 pound dacron backing attached to the spool with an arbor knot
- Airflo Ridgeline running line, attached to the backing with an albright knot, sealed with superglue
- Skagit Compact head attached to front of the running line using factory loops and a loop-to-loop connection
- Airflo Custom Cut 200 and 330 tips, cut to 12 foot lengths attached to the head using factory loops and a loop-to-loop connection
- Loop created in the front end of the custom cut tip by stripping off the coating and tying a perfection loop in the mono core
- 3 to 6 feet of 12 pound Maxima Ultragreen leader, attached to the front end of the tip using a triple surgeon’s loop and a loop-to-loop connection
- Solitude Reverse Marabou Intruder tube fly
- Owner SSW hook, size 2, tied to the leader using a non-slip mono loop
- “A lot of the time I adjust my depth more by changing flies than by changing sinktips. I’ll have some heavier bugs in my box for fishing deeper.”
- “If I’m fishing an unweighted tube I fish a shorter leader because you’re really relying on the sink rate of the tip at that point – not the weight of the fly. For weighted flies I’ll step up to a little longer leader because I can get the fly to sink faster with a longer leader. That weighted fly will sink faster than the sinktip will.”
Quote: "For weighted flies I'll step up to a little longer leader because I can get the fly to sink faster with a longer leader."
Why bother with a sinktip at all then? Is it to turn the fly over?
Just wondering if the sinktip isn't responsible for further sinking the fly, why have it on?
Deneki Outdoors says
We asked Tom to respond to this question, and boy did he ever. Here's Tom's answer!
OK… Here's the deal.
A weighted fly, especially a heavily weighted fly that is dressed properly, will sink faster than the sink-tip when the fly is out of tension during the beginning of the swing. That said, most flies are dressed with way too much material to sink faster than the sink-tip. It is my belief that the most important part of fishing sink-tips is getting the fly to depth quickly. After watching my clients fish sink-tips from high banks, I realized most flies don't really start digging until halfway through the swing. We miss the meat of the run! Consequently, I've started to tie my flies with as little material as possible while still maintaining a big profile.
When I pull the fly back at me in the initial set-up, I want to get the fly to plummet through the water column. A straight leader of 10 or 12 pound Maxima will sink way faster than a sink-tip because of the diameter. However, You couldn't cast a 12' to 15' leader with the flies I tie. I fish a leader as long as I can cast comfortably which seams to be around five or six feet. The sink-tip will eventually catch up to the depth of the fly, which probably happens shortly after the fly comes into tension.
Folks should really pay more attention to current seams and bubble lines when fishing sink-tips. Set your cast up well beyond the seam, 10 to 15 feet or so. Immediately pull the fly back at you and drop slack to allow the fly to sink. Just before it gets to the seam, mend the Skagit head without moving the sink-tip to set-up the right swing angle. Then, gently lift your rod tip until you feel the fly come into tension. With a long leader and a weighted fly, your bug will be in the zone when it swings through the dining room.
As for unweighted flies, your depth is truly controlled by the sink-tip alone. If you fish a long leader with an unweighted bug it will take forever for the fly to catch up with the sink-tip. A shorter leader around three feet seems to work well for unweighted flies. Use this rig when you feel the fish are on the inside seams or traveling near the bank in high water situations. Another time would be in soft flats with uniform depth less than four feet of water. A weighted fly usually hangs up too much to fish these situations effectively. By fishing an unweighted fly, short leaders and lighter sink-tips, you can fish the fly right up into a foot of water.
Thanks Tom for the answer, and thanks for passing my question on to him.
I'm too tired to take it all in at the moment, but will do so soon.
Ed F. says
Nice Stuff! More of same, please. Cheers!
Tom has hit the nail right on the head. Well done.
I have been fishing with weighted flyes and long leaders 12′ to 15’on a floter for over 30 years. 20 of those years was with no spey tacticks. For the last 10 years I have done nothing but spey. What a blast. I tend to stay away from sink tipes as much as as I can but there are times when they are needed. Even then the tips are short 6′ to 8′ and adjust leader lenght for proper depth control. For me curret speed and water deph greater than 12 feet are the action point for a sink tip.
Tom, Great job. Tight lines. Rusty