Sink tip fly line saves the day
  |  First Published: December 2013

Although most fly line manufacturers feature sink tip fly lines in their catalogues, we don’t seem to read much about these very useful flyfishing tools.

Floating fly lines make sense for anglers targeting fish working the surface. Fast-sink fly lines have gained a great following on the impoundment bass angling scene, and those ubiquitous intermediate fly lines (especially the clear versions) seem to have no end of applications. That’s especially true when fish are line-shy, particularly in the still water scenario.

In between these distinct angling situations is the good old sink tip fly line. It fulfils a lot of different flyfishing requirements and can really surprise you with its versatility. The tip section (it’s best if it’s clear) is usually around 3-4m long and will sink faster than an intermediate line. The remainder of the fly line floats in the manner of a full floating line.

The alternate sink/float set up lets you use the line in places where a full intermediate line would be likely to foul up, snag, or worse – require the fly to be retrieved too quickly to catch a fish to avoid snagging.

As you can imagine, sink tip fly lines are very useful around the edges of impoundment weed beds, standing timber areas, rock ledges and rock bars.

Their best use of all though, in my view, is around the sort of structural timber and logs that cod inhabit in the freshwater, and in the mangrove snags and fallen trees we find in the more upstream sections of tropical streams.

One of the main benefits of a sink tip line is its sheer manageability; the ease of instant retrieval and then making the next cast. The sink tip section delivers the fly to where it can attract a fish, and the floating section allows instant lifting of the entire line as soon as a fly is taken by a fish or deemed to be in danger of fouling up.

By contrast, most if not all of an intermediate sink rate line (bar the last couple of metres) needs to be back through the runners before you can make a new cast. What a waste of fishing time!

Sink tip line saveS the day

Last month, in the upper reaches of one of North Queensland’s tropical rivers, I put a sink tip fly line set-up on a Temple Forks Outfitters TFR 375 large arbor reel. I teamed it with one of the new TFO Mangrove Rods for some heavy duty use on one of my favourite fish: barra. It was my last trip of the barra season and memorable in many ways.

The river’s brackish section was very low yet any snag-covered area that was over a metre in depth held barra, plus the occasional mangrove jack. That might sound like quite easy pickings but compounding all of it was current flow, with the tide ebbing fairly strongly.

Barra won’t bite when there’s no current so it was try or go by (the latter no option), and I can assure you it was pretty difficult keeping the fly right in the strike zone. It wasn’t impossible, however, thanks to the sink tip line which was outstanding in the tricky situation.

I’d cast a little upstream of a snag, then retrieve slowly keeping the rod tip virtually on the water to reduce slack. At the tug of a fish I’d strip strike: if the cast was a dud I’d quickly lift to get the fly out for the next cast.

While the sink tip section was down in the strike zone I could also mend (flicking sideways, always downcurrent) the floating section to prevent any slack line from inhibiting the strip strike or the quick retrieval. Not every cast was a winner, but a lot were and then the fun began. Luckily I had my powerful 4-piece TFO Mangrove 10wt rod on the job.

TFO Mangrove Rod

The Mangrove series of TFO rods are designed by the renowned U.S. fly angler Flip Pallot. While they are quite new I’m tipping they will be very widely accepted thanks to their easy casting ability and reserves of power.

Some super technical magnum-style fly rods are great when a fish is in play but are by no means easy to cast unless in the hands of an expert. The Mangrove is different. It’s made for all comers, expert and beginner alike.

The 10wt I purchased, for instance, has enough flex in the tip section to easily cast 4-5m of line accurately and does not need half a fly line through the tip runner to load sufficiently to present a fly accurately. Yet, as I found with those willing barra, when power’s required, it’s there by the armful.

These sleek chestnut brown rods with their TiCr coating (which protects the rod tip from the occasional whack with a heavy fly) are from 6-12wt, are all 4-piece models and feature TFO’s Tactical Guides which cannot pop out or break and are totally braid and saltwater safe.

Wells-style hand grips plus neat hook keepers each side of the aluminium up-locking reel seat are part of the package.

A No-Fault Warranty applies for the life of the original registered owner. Distributors E.J. Todd in Sydney cover breakages at $40 (that’s right, 40 bucks!) per section, return post.

TFR 375 Large Arbor Reel

I love this reel. I loved it soon as I picked it up, admired the finish and then gave it a twirl to marvel at how smooth and how cleanly it ran.

The TFR 375s are true saltwater reels machined from 6061 aluminium and feature a sealed carbon fibre disc drag, 3 bearings, with a 1-way roller bearing allowing easy conversion from left to right hand wind. The available colours are black, red, gold and pewter and the range covers line sizes from 6 to 10.

The spool sizes match the model number, so my TFR 375 has a 3.75” diameter spool with a capacity of 300m of 40lb braid, plus a 10wt fly line.

These are powerful reels. Even barra up to 80cm were stopped with the drag tightened almost to sunset, and I’ve given this new product full marks for finish, durability and performance.

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