Odds 'n' Sods of Information and Opinion

Managing full sinker depth

Managing depth with the rod position:


Simply moving the rod tip can have a significant effect on depth control. When casting short, a high rod tip position can keep the fly running shallow, but when it crosses into deeper water, dropping the tip will sink the head and fly very quickly. The sink rate takes some getting used to, as changes in rod tip position can make for large depth changes, especially when fishing a short line. This is a great way to fish pocket water short, as you can cast from an upstream position into the shallow water on the far side of the run just up from the pocket, while maintaining a high rod position. Then as the fly begins to swing, dropping the rod tip will sink the fly right into the depths of the pocket, sliding the fly down and across to the fish.

Keeping the rod tip high and/or back can keep a fly on a fast sinker running shallow, while dropping it or swinging the rod tip into the drift can sink the fly significantly. In addition to that we can also use line tension to lift or sink the fly and head. If we cast slightly up stream and throw an air mend into it, we've thrown a lot of slack running line into the cast. The head can sink a long way before line tension slows/stops the sinking. Once tension is applied, the head will more or less maintain its depth depending on the head we're using and the current speed. If we're getting into slower water where the fly will sink, a few strips will keep the head up and avoid the snag.

Stopping the rod tip high at the end of the cast will produce slack that then can be managed to sink the head. Even reduced tension by leading the swing with the rod tip, can produce additional sink, or keep a slow sinking head from rising in a fast current ´┐╝This technique is especially useful when the head swings between two different current speeds.

In addition, the full sink shooting head angler can control depth in a way that's not possible for a sinktip angler. The further out we cast a full sink head, the deeper it sinks. Any sinking line maintains a downward angle in a constant current, from line tip to rod tip, that cannot be steepened (adding weigh excepted). The head will maintain that angle whether it is close to us or further away. So the further out we cast, the deeper it can sink before that angle is reached. When fishing close in, the rod tip acts like the floater belly of a sinktip system, holding up the back of the head. So if we're fishing the head with the running line loop at the tiptop and the rod tip low, the back end of the head is touching the surface of the water. However, if we cast out 30' more and leave the rod tip in the same position, the back end of the head is now three or four feet deep. The further out we go, the deeper it runs. That's a neat feature to have considering that the typical river is deeper in the middle than it is at the edges.

This feature also lets us fish the same run at different depths by changing our casting position. Let's say we're casting a short line into some fast moving pocket water and nothing we're doing is getting the fly down enough. Well back up 10', 15', or 20' and try again. With the longer cast, the rod and running line will no longer hold the back end of the head up, so casting into the pocket water from farther away will get the head and the fly deeper.

Despite all the emphasis so far on getting deep, the full sinking head can also be fished shallow when the need arises. It isn't just a deep river line system. Even if we're stuck with only a fast sinking head on the reel, we can fish it shallow by keeping your casts short, the rod tip up, applying constant tension and by using shallow angle casts. The current together with the high rod position is used to keep the belly of the full sinker up and an unweighted fly can be run fairly shallow even if a fast sinker is used. The same approach applies to fast water or slow, simply varying tension, rod tip height, casting angles and casting distance, the same head can be kept up in the slow water or sunk in the fast water.