UPDATED! - Spey Line Selection Chart for OPST Commando Heads and Switch Rods

May 10, 2017

What Grain Weight Line Should I Use for My Rod?

This is an all too common challenge! There are so many lines and options, not to mention all sorts of different sink tips.  We have attempted to simplify this and give anglers the resources needed to pair up their rods with "New School Skagit" lines like the OPST Commando, Airflo Skagit Scout, SA Spey Lite, RIO Trout MAX, and others. AND match up the right type of sink tip for their desired line system. 

New School vs. Traditional Skagit Heads

Historically, Skagit heads were about 23' long. Add a 15' sink tip to that (this was standard 10 years ago) adn you have a 33' head plus leader.  Try casting that on a new age "Trout Spey" rod like an 11' 3 weight and you'll wish you hadn't! Its a mess.  Over the years two-handed rods have gotten progressively shorter, and lighter, hence the need for a "New School" Skagit line to enter the market. Contemporary Skagit heads for trout spey and switch rods are much shorter and range from 11' - 15' give or take a few.  This allows anglers to use light rods with sink tips and weighted flies. The result is big fun and some crazy cool casting.

Skagit Heads for Single Hand Rods

Many anglers want the advantages of using Skagit style shooting heads on their traditional single hand rods. It just makes sense!  Shoot line, no backcast, and deliver big nasty flies on sink tips to unsuspecting trophy fish.   All this with your traditional single hand fly rod.  This chart will guide you through the process and match the right shooting head and sink tips. Don't forget you will need a running line too! We like mono running line for single hand rods and Skagit heads. 

Craig Hettinger is a guru at matching the right line system with your rod. He spec'd out a great chart for you and it provides some excellent guidance on getting the right line for your rod and goals.  Email onlinesales@redsflyshop.com if you would like Craig to help you build your setup. 

Best Selling Spey Line System Components at Red's Fly Shop

To help make building your spey line process easy, here is a diagram of  how a modular spey line system is put together.  You can now put together your own line system for your single hand rod or switch rods.

Order of Components from Reel to Fly:

1. Backing (we'll install backing at no extra charge for all reel purchases if you request it in your order comments).
2. Running Line - Mono is most popular because it adds distance and ease of cast.
3. Shooting Head
4. Sink Tip or Floating Tip
5. Tippet or Leader - Sink Tips generally just require 5' of straight tippet, floating lines you'll probably want a traditional 9' leader. 

New School Skagit Shooting Heads

Sink Tips and Floating Tips

Running Lines

Tradtitional Skagit Head

RIO 23' Skagit MAX (works well on 11'6 switch rods and spey rods longer than 11'6")
RIO 20' Skagit MAX Short (works well on 11' switch rods)

  1. Great info on the New School Spey set ups! I still need some help. I have a two handed, Winston 5wt, 11'6", 4 piece, Boron III. I'm wanting the correct set up from backing => tippet. I've been casting single hands for 25 years. New to Spey/skagit. fishing for trout mostly on the Lower Sacramento River in Anderson, CA. Thanks for the advice. I will place my order as soon as I hear back. Cheers! Craig 530-228-1895
  2. Greetings: I was recently given a Sage ESN 10' 3wt. (4pc) and concurrently introduced to OPST system. What would you recommend: reel to leader? Thank you, Tom
  3. Hi. I was wondering if you could tell me what size of airflo rage head I need for my sage pulse 11foot 4 inch 8 weight switch rod. Thanks for your help. Kevin