Skagit Line

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Skagit Line
Reading The Water
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Rio Skagit Line
NEW SIZES! Rio Skagit Spey Line                  NEW for 2007! Skagit Shooting Head
Larry Williams with a Deschutes steely.  Mark Bachmann photo.

Color: Yellow Head/Green Running Line

Loop on Tip End for loop to loop connection to Skagit Cheaters and/or Sink Tip
Overall Length: 120ft       Head Length: 27ft
Perfected by legendary steelhead guides, Scott O'Donell and Mike McCune, this weight forward line is designed for "Skagit Style" casting. It incorporates a short, heavy shooting-head type line with a fast sinking tip for presenting very large, weighted flies to fish that are lying deep in the currents.  With one of these lines, a 5' Cheater and a 15' sinking tip the head length will be 47'.  The head on this line is 7'-8' shorter than the popular WindCutter line of the same weight.  The compact design allows easier casting of large flies and requires a shorter "D" loop which will appeal to beginners or anglers working around stream bank vegetation.  This is currently the most popular two-hand-rod line in the Pacific Northwest.  It is also a proven line for fishing all sizes of flies in the wind. Sinking tips are especially effective in the wind.  For fishing flies close to the surface in hard winds, try an intermediate AquaLux tip.  All Rio sinking and floating tips work well with this line.  Larger diameter tips turn over larger flies and get deeper.  Eleven and twelve weight tips are regularly used with 450-grain and larger Skagit Speys.  Other popular sinking tips are made from 9'-13' Rio T-14.  Cheaters can be added to lengthen the belly of this line.  Adding a Cheater will also increase the weight of the head and change the load-point in your rod.  New this year are 350, 400, 500, and 600-grain sizes of Skagit Spey lines.  This will allow an angler to find a line that works perfectly with any rod.  There are also four new Skagit Shooting Heads available for anglers who prefer a certain shooting line other than what comes seamlessly attached as part of the standard Skagit Spey Line configuration..
 More information below.    Cheaters    Tips

Rio Skagit Spey is the most popular spey line in The Pacific Northwest.

Item Description Size Price To Top
21661 Rio Skagit Line without tips 350-grain $89.95

21755 Rio Skagit Line without tips 400-grain $89.95

21662 Rio Skagit Line without tips 450-grain $89.95

21756 Rio Skagit Line without tips 500-grain $89.95

21663 Rio Skagit Line without tips 550-grain $89.95

21757 Rio Skagit Line without tips 600-grain $89.95

21664 Rio Skagit Line without tips 650-grain $89.95

21665 Rio Skagit Line without tips 750-grain $89.95


Rio Skagit Shooting Head  NEW FOR 2007 !!!
Looped on both ends for attaching shooting line, cheaters & tips.  These lines are made for the angler who wants to use a different type of shooting line than the conventional fly line that comes with the Skagit Spey line (above).  Fore a selection of shooting lines, please refer to our page of Shooting Lines.  The Rio Skagit Shooting Heads are so new they may not be available by the time this is published.

Item Description Size Price To Top
21639 Rio Skagit Shooting Head without tips or shooting line 450-grain $44.95

21640 Rio Skagit Line without tips 550-grain $44.95

21641 Rio Skagit Line without tips 650-grain $44.95

21642 Rio Skagit Line without tips 750-grain $44.95


by J. Morgan Jones

A big, long, flat pool.  Where do you start?

The more that I watch other people fly fish- the more that I am convinced that many of us do not, or cannot, “read the water.” This should be a basic skill. Your catch rate is going to suffer if you are not presenting your fly where fish are holding. I think that perhaps many of us are catching fish as a result of fishing in places that we are familiar with, or perhaps places that someone else has shown us. While this method 

works, we are missing good holding areas as a result of not reading the water.   The first step in reading the water is understanding why fish hold where they do. Trout, Salmon and Steelhead all normally hold in very specific areas for different reasons.  Salmon are transitional, and therefore tend to hold in “resting” areas until reaching their spawning grounds. Try to imagine what the Salmon are enduring while ascending the river to spawn. The Salmon needs to pass through long fast broken water areas in the course of their journey. They seek places to rest as soon as possible after these long and difficult passages. At the “top” of riffles, or, fast water (also called the “head” of a riffle) there is usually a deeper area that offers a refuge of little current which is the first chance of resting after a long and energy consuming run through faster water. Keep in mind that this is “resting” water (as opposed to “holding” water). Salmon, like Trout and Steelhead, prefer to hold in protected water.

This is usually at or near the bottom of a river and can be a depression that has little current or a deep area that has a good deal of structure. Large boulders are the most common structure in many rivers. These fish prefer overhead cover at their holding areas. This is usually thought to be a physical object such as overhanging trees or undercut banks. Many of us fail to realize that a broken water surface (sometimes called “textured water”) is also overhead cover. The key here is that fish are wanting to avoid overhead 

Chinooks like the cover of big boulders in deeper water. 

predators, so most any condition that restricts visual contact can be interpreted as overhead cover. Salmon are not here to eat, so keep in mind that they do not need to be in feeding lanes.

Steelhead often hold next to faster, deeper water.

Steelhead are similar to Salmon in what they are looking for in resting and holding water. You should consider that steelhead do not usually rest in community areas, but in individual spots. This means that there can be many steelhead holding in a “run”, but not in pods (groups) as other types of fish will hold in. Steelhead are not here to eat, primarily, but they do eat while in the river. When Salmon are present in the system, 

many steelhead are pushed out of traditional resting areas to hold in “pocket” waters. These are small resting areas large enough for one fish to lie in. Remember, good resting and holding areas are always places to fish. Regardless of the season, fish will always know a good spot to rest by instinct. Successful steelheading is a result of recognizing these spots, or “lies.”

Trout are a different world. The key to understanding where to find trout is to recognize what is called a “prime lie” (this is not something that you tell your fishing buddies, but rather, actual places).  Trout are looking for three things. The first is cover, then a holding area with adequate oxygen, and access to food. Once again, cover is not only solid objects, but also can be broken water. The best holding area will be in areas of no (or very little) current, but next to (or under) moving water.

This fine trout came from under the cover of slightly deeper water.

The moving water is what brings the food to them. They tend to hold on the slow side of current seams, below ledges, behind rocks and in river bottom depressions. While these are the most common, they are not exclusive by any means. When an insect appears in the current next to their holding spot, they move out, take the insect, and return to the holding area. When you find a place that has all of the ingredients, fish it. This is what is called a “prime lie”. When the direct sunlight is off the water surface, the trout are more confident about taking emerging insects and dry flies and can move into more open areas. Many evenings the fishing seems to get better as the sunlight fades. The diminishing light can trigger insect activity and is interpreted by the fish as cover. Almost any condition that restricts visual contact into, or out of, the water, is protection from overhead predators. The safer that the trout feels, the more confident they are about feeding.

     Trout can almost always be found in riffles, the 1-4 foot deep nymphing runs or the back eddies. Always look for movement in these areas and you will find trout.

There are many more spots that hold fish than most of us are aware of. The better you read the water, the more spots you will find that are fishable. The next time you get to the river, look at areas that you have never fished before. In addition to looking at new spots, look closely at your favorite ones. Chances are you will recognize the things that make a good fishing area. Apply what you have learned when scouting new water and you will find yourself becoming more confident as a fly fisher.  Remember that none of this is etched in stone. The fish do not read the same books that we do, so they tend to make mistakes. Be patient with them.
Polarized glasses are great tools for observing trout.



We were standing on the banks of the Deschutes River.  The man said, "The fishing would probably improve if we shot all of the mergansers."  I was stunned and am sure that I reacted badly.  Years before I had an even more aggressive reaction to a man who had suddenly pulled a 22-pistol from his pack and shot a merganser from my moving boat.  Why do mergansers receive such disdain from human fishermen?  From my point of view all of the wild life along the river adds to the river experience.  My approach is "live and let live".  I go to wild places because they are wild.  I make as little impact as possible.   Mergansers and the species that we think of as "sport fish" have coexisted for for millions of years. If there has been a recent decline in sport fish, then it seems that another specie is more likely to be the primary cause.
However, now that I have some new photographic equipment to use, I plan on making a a year long study of mergansers that inhabit the many river that I fish.  I am in search of facts: What do they eat?  How do they live?  How do they effect the fish populations that we strive to protect?  
The photo above is cropped from a family group of mergansers that number 8 individuals.  There appears to be quite a bit of social interplay between them.  Expect many more Merganser pictures in the future.

Merganser Links:
Duck Central

Ducks Unlimited

Rabbit Fur on the Hide is some of the best tying material for .....

...only 1/2 of our selection of full hides...

deadly wet flies.  Probably no other material has as much life-like movement when wet. Whether tied over the back, Zonker style or palmered like a hackle, the fibers separate and flow with life-like, seductive properties. Rabbit strip is also very durable and easy to use.

However, its best quality is that as soon as it leaves the water, it collapses and on re-entry it puffs out. Flies tied with rabbit strip fish big, but cast small.

We have located a reliable source of premium hides. These hides are tanned and dyed to perfection. Some colors are rich and earthy, while others are bright and vibrant. All hides are very clean and glossy. Average dimensions are 8" x 12".

These hides have many uses. You can cut a hide into sections. The center ridge of the back always contains the longest guard hairs and makes the best for straight-cut strips for Zonkers & Pike Flies. The center 2/3 of the hide is best for cross cut strips.

The sides of the skin are actually the belly of the rabbit and make the finest dubbing. These side pieces can be sheared for dubbing and the colors can be custom blended to your exact needs. Each hide contains enough dubbing in these side pieces for hundreds of flies

Straight-cut strips are sliced with grain of the hair into 1/8" or 14" wide strips. 1/8" strips can be purchaced in economical packs of (4) rabbit strips or whole hides. They are perfect for Hare Matukas such as Steeltookas, Zonkers and Steelhead Bunnies such as "Big Black" and "Big Red".  You can find more information on them here: The Evolution of Big Black.

...part of the selection of straight cut whole hides...

...probably the most complete selection to be found any where... For a large suggestive bait fish pattern, dub a   loose flowing body of LiteBrite or Flashabou Dubbing.  Brush it back.  Add a magnum rabbit strip zonker style for the back and three or four turns of cross cut rabbit strip for the head. Cross-cut strips are cut across the hide.  They are 1/8" wide.  Cross cut rabbit strip is normally palmered on the hook to form the body for streamlined bunny buggers or in this case, the head and gill plates of a larger bait fish.  This can make killer bass, pike and cuda flies. Rabbit strip flies are easy and very fast to tie.

Rabbit Fur on the Hide, best buy with free shipping!
No road kills in this selection, 
these pelts are all soft-tanned, number one fur quality rabbit hides.

What our customers say:
"Earlier this week I received an order of rabbit strips on the hide.  Let me tell ya, these are the best strips I have been able to find.  You gave me great service, great products and a great price.  I go though a lot of rabbit strips and will be ordering again soon.
 Thanks for the great work you do!"
Tim Hanford, Mechanicsburg, PA 

Packaged Straight Cut Rabbit Strips Uncut Whole Rabbit Hides
Straight Cut Stripped Whole Rabbit Hides Packaged Magnum Rabbit Strips
Packaged Cross Cut Rabbit Strips Snowshoe Rabbit Feet
Cross Cut Stripped Whole Rabbit Hides European Hares Masks

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes


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