May 23, 2012

Yeah, But Does It Catch Fish?

Every season a litany of fly lines are introduced that are going to make us cast more accurate, further with less effort, and last forever. Reminds me of when I used to play golf and it was the same selling technique with golf equipment. As flyfishers we are so concerned about how does it cast - especially how far, but the more important question becomes, does it catch more fish? The situation is analogous to owning a sleek looking sports car that couldn't outpace a Yugo. Yes, I'm talking to you Pontiac Fiero.

The Scientific Anglers Skagit Extreme Intermediate Head fishes below the water surface and therefore gets the fly deeper without the use of barbell eyes that will crack your skull. This line has been previously described in a prior newsletter so I won't lay out the technical aspects of the head. I was anxious to put it through the paces on a coastal steelhead foray this winter. Upon stringing it up on my spey rod, Jeff Hickman proceeded to tell me how well it fishes especially with any turbulence. Being the born skeptic, I questioned this as being a selling point not an attribute that I, the average angler could discern. After all, I am far from the technical skills of someone like Jeff. However, I quickly became a believer. As can be seen in the accompanying picture, we were fishing behind a rather large boulder, or casa de steelhead with a large amount of surface turbulent flow. It seemed that trying to get a nice swing behind this boulder was much simpler with the Intermediate head. One easy mend and the fly line remained straight creating a beautiful tempo to the swing. After a few swings through this slot, fish on!!!

SA Skagit Intermediate
With that experience, the skeptic was starting to fade like the Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premier League. But I was fully convinced when my friend Dave, hoping to hook my fish's larger companion, swung the same slot with a Skagit floating head. Sitting on the bank I could see that his Skagit floating head was getting pushed around all over the place behind this boulder with what can only be described as patterns reminiscent of serpentine cursive letters. Since that outing, I've had many more chances to fish the SA Intermediate Head and have found that for the most part, I can get away with an early mend to set up my fly, then leave it alone because the currents don't see to push it around as much. In other words, it fishes the fly better. Of course, the head loads the rod well, and casts nicely. The only minor criticism would be that since the entire head fishes below the surface, trying to pull the line out of the water with a switch rod or short spey usually requires a roll cast. But I'm willing to live with that considering how well the SA Skagit Extreme Intermediate Head fishes. After all, isn't that the point?

-Charlie Chambers


  1. How do you recommend matching them to rods? use the same length rules of thumb as a reg skagit head?

  2. Yes, exactly. Average length skagit heads cast very well on rods between 12-14ft. When shopping for an intermediate head, choose the same grain weight that you would for a floating skagit head

  3. In the photo, I'm using a Sage TCX 7126 with SA Skagit Intermediate 520 grain line. Casts beautifully.


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