Skagit shorts...by Ed Ward 20th Jan. 2009
...have been in existence as "experimental" for a few years now. There seems to be an "average lag time" of three to five years between "experimental" and "production".
As far as Skagit casting, going over the 3 1/2 times rod length ratio will most definitely increase the difficulty of casting. NOT saying it CAN'T be done, but it certainly does become more "work" beyond that point.
The intent of the Shorts is towards accomodating shorter length Speyrods and Switchrods, and also to enable Skagit casting capabilities on singlehanded rods.
The two lines that I have used extensively are the SA Singlehand Skagit and the RIO Skagit Shorts. The SA's are a couple feet longer (22' to 23') than the RIO's (20') and also have some taper. Basically, the SA's are the "smoother" casting of the two lines, whereas the RIO's throw the heaviest flies and/or tips.
Here are some suggestions for choosing a particular line:
- tighter quarters casting - shorter line.
- bigger flies/ heavier tips - shorter line.
- stripping-type presentations - shorter line.
- short to medium casting distances - shorter line.
- medium to longer casting distances - longer line.
- strictly swinging-type presentations - longer line.
- lighter flies/tips, "finer" presentations - longer line.
- "ultimate distance" casting - longer line.
Keep in mind that the lower the rod to line length ratio, the tighter and more "dead nuts on" the casting technique will have to be. The revised line length range for Skagit casting is 2 1/4 to 3 1/2 times rod length.
One aspect of Skagit casting that I have learned about over the past few years through the use of Switchrods, is the versatility that any particular rod has through changing the weights of lines. For example, on my Loomis 11' 7 weight Switch:
- I use a 400 grain short body to cast heavier tips (T-14) and heavier/bigger flies such as 4" to 5" lead-weighted string leeches.
- I'll switch to a 360 to 375 grain body with T-11 tips to cast more "standard" stuff such as #4 to #1/0 unweighted steelhead flies, size 6 to 4 Clouser's with bead chain eyes. If I need to throw bigger surface flies such as steelhead wakers and chuggers, I use this same body with a floating tip.
- For "finer", much softer presentations of smaller flies such as trout type soft hackles and skating caddis dries, I'll drop down to a 325 to 340 grain body with either a T-8 tip or floating tip.
In other words, don't think that Skagit is just for throwing the "big stuff". By changing the weights of lines to accomodate the particular "payload", one can "match" a wide variety of different fishing conditions with one rod. It only makes sense once one really thinks about it - a line that develops the energy to cast a sopping wet lead-weighted string leech, is going to "carry" too much energy to make a "fine" presentation with a smaller fly. The "solution" is to use a line with less weight, which in turn will reduce created line energy - establishing just enough energy to cast a smaller payload, but not so much that there is "leftover" momentum at the end of the cast that "slams" the whole works into the water like a ton of bricks.
I am a biologist grew up with a fishing rod in my hands. I have been fortunate enough to embrace my love of art and science in my career. Most of my free time were well spent in the nature, either studying bird behavior or chasing variety of fish with fly rods. My favorite art medium is watercolors, I love the natural and spontaneous feel created by watercolor pigments. I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University. Welcome to my website. Mark