RIO MOW Tips Explained and Questions Answered

April 28, 2016

This article may not be all that exciting for many of you, but some of you will shout for joy! Finally somebody took the time, and a lot of time, to fully explain why and what the RIO MOW Tip system is, does, means, and why you should be using it. If there is any confusion, please add comments and I'll improve or answer them. 


What is a RIO MOW Tip?

When it comes to setting up spey gear we see more confusion over this little piece of gear than almost all others combined.  Hopefully this article will make clear sense of these lines and give you enough education to make some wise purchases and hopefully hook a few extra fish.

What is a RIO MOW Tip?

RIO MOW Tips are a hybrid 10' tip that can be part floating and part sinking.  If you want to fish deep then you'll get 10' of full sinking material.  If you want to fish shallow, you'll also use a 10' tip but only 2.5' will sink and 7.5' will float. A bit deeper and you'll fish 5' sinking combined with 5' floating.  

The diagram below shows the 4 various tips.  They range from full 10' of floating to full 10' of sinking with a few combos at 2.5' increments.

RIO Skagit InTouch MOW Tips - Light
*this is a picture of a common MOW tip. The total length is 10' and in this example 2.5' is sink tip, 7.5' is floating.  

Why Use a RIO MOW Tip?

This system allows you to track, control, and fish your fly accurately.  It was born out of necessity for precise spey fishing.  The casters that invented the idea wanted to know pretty exactly where their fly was and this system utilizing a floating head with a short sink tip allowed them to reach over the top of boulders, ledges, logs, and know precisely where their fly was in order to control its speed and drift. Prior to the invention of MOW tips, many anglers used much longer sink tips, often 15', that would sink slowly. While these certainly have their place, RIO MOW tips have become very common and practically standard for casters using Skagit lines.  

What do the Numbers T-8, T-11, T-14, and T-17 mean?

RIO MOW Tips essentially "complete" a Skagit line.  Without the added mass of the RIO MOW Tip your Skagit head will not cast properly.  The term "T-11" for instance refers to the # of grains per inch in that sink tip.  T-11 for 10' = 110 Grains.  T-14 at 14 grains per inch = 140 grains.  All MOW tips whether floating, part sinking, or full sinking will weight either 8, 11, 14, or 17 grains per inch.  

Why is this important?  Because now ALL your tips will weigh the same and they'll cast the same!  Your floating tip should cast pretty much the same as your floating tip.  It's a great system once you understand it.   Now you just need to figure out whether your line needs T-8, T-11, T-14, or T-17.    

How to Choose a RIO MOW Tip

In an attempt to make this simple, RIO categorizes their sink tips like this.  when purchasing tips you'll simply refer to the corresponding chart here.

Step One: 

Determine whether your rod needs Light, Medium, Heavy, or Extra Heavy tips.

Rod Weight Sink Tip Needed
Grains per Inch
 2-6 weight rods  LIGHT MOW Tips  T-8
 5-7 weight rods  MEDIUM MOW Tips  T-11
 8-9 weight rods  HEAVY MOW Tips  T-14

Step 2:

Determine if you want traditional RIO MOW Tips or Intermediate iMOW Tips.

Traditional RIO MOW Tips have floating/sinking combos and iMOW Tips have sinking/intermediate sections.  The iMOW system makes a smoother transition between a floating Skagit head and your fly, or if you are using an Intermediate Sinking Head you MUST use iMOW.  

Most anglers are using floating Skagit heads and prefer standard MOW tips so that they have great control.

Step 3:

Choosing which tips to purchase.

If you are starting from scratch then I strongly recommend that you buy the entire kit. These are a great investment for any switch or spey rod owner and in order to take full advantage of the investment you made in the hardware, you must have the corresponding sink tips.  

Step 4:


Ok, so you don't want to spring for the whole kit. I suggest you look towards accumulating 4-6 RIO MOW Tips eventually but for now most anglers can survive with a full sink tip and a 5' floating/5' sinking.

Click Below to Purchase Tips

  1. Thanks for the ongoing sharing of information, especially around SR and Spey rod configurations. Very helpful to the novice. Let's see if I can put together a few coherent questions on the subject matter <> How do FLO-Tips fit into then conversation? <> You've recommended an Intermediate Spey line for the Klicitate. To be clear with an Intermediate line I must use "InTouch Skagit iMOW Tips"' and not the standard MOW tips? Thanks!
  2. Rick: The Flo-Tips are similar in concept to the MOW tips, but lack the variety offered by the MOW system. I believe the Flo-Tips have a 2.5' intermediate section and a 7.5' section of T7 thru T-18 grain weight sinking tips. The reason you need to use the intermediate tip is that the intermediate portion of your head is digging into the water column...if you attach a floating tip to the intermediate portion of your head, you've created a Float > Sink > Float > Sink system when you want a Float > Sink > Sink system. Getting a good swing and staying connected to your fly with an intermediate head connected to a floating MOW tip would be quite difficult and would negate most of the benefit of the MOW system right from the starting gate.
  3. Thanks Ben, good answers.
  4. Ben - Thanks for the clarification... Ok, I'm brand new in the Spey rod category having purchased my 1st 7wt rod with the Airflow Skagit Compact Gen II (570 gr) & Airflow Rage (540 gr). <> For the Klicitate, Joe recommends an Intermediate line, good investment? <> If I have this right, one could add some ‘intermediateness’ to their floating Skagit setup, or if you want to fish a MOW-type system with your intermediate head, *you must use* the iMOW tips(?). <> Does the Intermediate line cut through the faster upper current than a floating Skagit setup? If so, why recommend using the iMOW with a floating Skagit? <> Finally, what 2-3 iMOW tips are recommended? ** Thanks**
  5. Almost forgot this: Airflow Skagit F.I.S.T vs typical Intermediate Spey line. Comparing the two what are the conclusions and/or differences?
  6. Hello i have trouble getting enough depth with my full length line Scientific anglers switch adapt using only a sinking polyleader. I really like the fly line otherwise and wonder if attaching a imow light t8 tip on my line is okey? can my 440 grain line handle the t8 or even t11?
  7. Hi Guy's ' Am still a little confused on this system as it pertains to floating heads. I do a lot of still water fly fishing and use a 4 wt floating line and indicators. I want to incorpate the switch rod into this type of fishing to cover more water. I have a 6wt switch rod and a commando head from OPST with a lazer running line. What is the grain floating line I should be useing for this???? Thank you so very much Dale
  8. @dale: I absolutely love the commando heads for swinging moving water, especially with micro Spey's and single handers in tight quarters. For Spey casting in still waters (especially indicator fishing) I seriously recommend you consider an integrated line and a full floating mow or no tip at all (the tip can get a little 'hingy'). Joe has a great video posted here where he explains line applications for Spey fishing preferences. Swing preferred, generalist, indicator preferred. It's worth the watch, Joe explains the differences very well....
  9. Great article guys. Thanks for taking the time to go into detail! I have pointed more than a few people to it as I aint get nowhere close to splainin things this good. :-( Really appreciate this!
  10. I have a 7 wt. switch rod, currently throwing a Rio Switch Chucker, 465 grains, fishing for steelhead. If I want to continue to use the Chucker, do I get the MOW or the iMOW kit? Please explain why. For whichever, do I use the Light or the Medium given the 7 weight Chucker is sort of at the limits at 465 grains? Thanks
  11. I have a st croix imperial switch 11' 6wt rod (grain window 320-385 according to customer service @ st croix - its not marked on the rod). If I use a 5wt 370 grain rio intouch switch chucker line, will I be able to use rio light MOW tips, or will this line/tip combination overload the rod? I plan to use this 99.9% spey style casting for smallmouth & gl tribs steelhead (swing, strip, & short range indicator). I have a fair amount of single hand experience but this will be my first two hander. If this combo will work for my rod, is it even reasonable for a novice two hand caster?
  12. I don't know what the term "intermediate" means on the imow tips I bought. Presume it means floating just under the surface. Is this what it means?
  13. Awesome! This information is so appreciated! Very well written!
  14. Hi Joe I want to set up 2 single hand fly rods with OPST commando heads. One Sage One #7 for fresh water, Salmon and Trout fishing One Sage Salt #10 for salt water Tarpon fishing I must add to the OPST commando head one MOW tip ?? What are the sizes for the OPST & MOW for each rod ?? In floating, sinking & fast sinking ? Best regards Guillermo Suaya L. Patagonia Argentina
  15. I have a 9' 6wt trout rod that I use a 210grain Airflow Skagit head on to swing streamers. at the moment I use sink tips of 5ft with various sink rates and 2x 1x tippet of 3 ft. I have problems casting big streamers. Would a light mow tip help casting or would it be to heavy and if not should I invest in a switch rod?
  16. Hi, I have the sage Method 14ft 9wt. I've paired it with a rio skagit long 675gr line, would you use the extra heavy tips in this instance? Thanks, Mark
  17. Hi, I was wondering about the 10' floating tip. What's the difference between this tip and just a tip made of Regular floating fly line? Does it have added weight to the line to help turn over the skagit head? thanks, Steve
  18. Actually most of that makes, I've been using airflo rage with their polytips although it casts delightful I'm not confident I'm getting down to the right depth, I'm going to buy a set of mow tips now , they can go info the bag along with the type 4-6-8 tips and a full set of poly tips! Eventually I'll find the right set up.
  19. On the full sink tip does it matter which end you connect to your shooting head? I can’t find any markings and they’re all one color (dark green- T-11) I’m assuming since the entire tip is the same rate it doesn’t matter.
  20. I received a 10' T-14 Skagit Mow Tip with my recent purchase from you and am not sure from the package if its full sink or what. The color is Black/Blue UPC 0730884214551 #8590. I will need a few more but don't want to duplicate. Thanks,