Rio Skagit Mow Tips as Skagit lines (shooting heads) for Short rods.

Last Summer I picked up a Cortland Fairplay 8′ 5/6 fly rod at Walmart.  You can’t order these things online through Walmart but you can find them at some of the larger stores if you’re lucky. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the rod’s performance.  Of Course, the components on a 30 dollar fly rod are pretty cheesy, what with the plastic reel seat and the foam grip but other than that it has a pretty sweet action and is light weight and fun to cast.

The Rio Skagit MOW tips can be found on Amazon or Ebay or elsewhere and make dandy little Skagit lines, ie shooting heads for turning over sink tips on shorter fly rods anywhere from 6′ to 8′ long in the 3 to 6 weight range depending on a variety of factors such as how heavy or light you like to line your rod and what sink tips you fish.

I haven’t done exhaustive research but good ideas for sink tips would be Rio Versileaders or 7′ to 10′ Airflo Polyleaders or Loop Poly tips.  Possibly go longer if that works for you.  Another possibility is custom 7′ to 12′ custom chopped sink tip material from t3 up to t8.


I prefer lighter sink tips and smaller flies on my little fly rods but you can go heavier for mini dredging on smaller water if you like. Which I have.

You can do most of the standard Skagit and Scandi casts provided you keep your hands low and use your wrists like swivels to implement a super compact casting stroke.  Its a super fun way to experience a tight line grab swinging for hatchery Trout and Smallmouth.

You can also use the lighter MOW tips for ultralight Skagit lines on tiny 2/3 weight fly rods.

10 thoughts on “Rio Skagit Mow Tips as Skagit lines (shooting heads) for Short rods.

  1. Tim, I hope you won’t mind me digging for more info. When you say “driver”, would this mean attaching the cheater to the shooting line (mono), or at the business end of the mow tip? I noticed the cheaters were made for specific spey line weights. Some I’ve seen say 6/7/8…some 10/11/12…others are labeled 650-750gr, etc. Would I just have to order a couple and look at their size, in relation to my “ex. heavy”, 180gr. mow tip, to determine where to place them? I have a few more questions…so here we go: If the longer tapered end of my mow seems too light to marry up well to some tips…or if it won’t turn over a bigger fly…would snipping off a few inches and re-welding a loop work (ever tried heat welding these)? Is T3, T4, T6 type level sinking line for making tips available? Finally, I’ve been thrilled with my current setup since reading this article: Redington Wayfarer 7.5′ 5pc for 4wt, ex-heavy 180gr floating mow tip, 7-10′ polyleader. Casts like a dream! Thanks a bunch.

    1. Thanks Chris. Happy to hear you have found a good set up for your single hander. You may have to do some research to figure out the exact weight and length of the cheaters just to keep you from buying too many that you don’t need. A spey pages search might have the info or google search. You may find a good buy at Sierra Trading post also. You could possibly marry your Cheater to your running line with the mow tip looped to that, which would give it the grains for a much heavier rod. If you follow the basic principle of looping the running line to the fattest chunk mow tip or driver and then looping on the skinnier pieces to that so your creating your own tapered string of piece that always go from heavy to light you can mix and match any way you want to give you the desired effect. Let me know how it goes. Sounds like a fun project.

  2. I really appreciate this piece, Tim. It’s really got the wheels turning. Based on the comments above, it sounds like the extra heavy mow tips weigh 180 grains and the heavy ones weigh 146 grains. I’m relatively new to micro skagit, and have been using the 250-300 grain heads for just a couple months now. I love it! But building an arsenal of setups from 150-360 grains was looking mighty expensive until I saw this.
    I have not tried this, so want to ask you before looking for and laying the money out for it (not sure it is even available); could I be making the same casts with a short, full intermediate, clear sinking head…using a 5-8ft. intermediate polyleader? I’d be using it for cast and retrieve fishing in lakes and Puget Sound for trout and coho. I’m looking for the most stealthy approach possible.

    1. Thanks Chris, yes I think you could make the casts with a short full intermediate sinking head. Will not cast as easily or well as the heavier mow tips. Longer rods will throw 15′ tips on the short MoWs Also, Scientific Anglers has 12′ 60 grain tips that I’ve heard work well. Also, you can find cheap Skagit heads on Ebay and chop them yourself, It’s just a short fat line. No fancy tapers at all. And Aiflo Skagit lines weld very easy, chop them to length and use heat shrink tape and a hair flattener (my daughters) ( some skiving required) Or even chop a 5 or 6 footer to use as a driver for your stealthy intermediate head and polyleader. good idea. If you find some Rio cheaters on ebay, they are shorter and make good short heavy drivers for supercharging your lines…let me know what you come up with. good luck

    1. Yes the floating MOW tips do have some taper to them. They actually fit the floating 10′ OPST Micro tip better than the Commando heads do. Thanks for logging in and commenting Robbie.

      1. So I eventually tried a X-heavy (180 grain) floating 10ft tip as a micro skagit head on a glass fibre 7’6 4wt. Rigged with the longer tapered part at the front (to a 5′ poly leader intermediate or floating) on my local canal – it really flies just roll casting and is almost over-gunned for such a small water – I’m thinking might even see what a 6′ rod and smaller head would do.

        1. Sounds good Robbie. I use a 10′ head on my little 6′ tiger eye and it works great. I’m looking forward to hearing what you end up using on your 6 footer. The possibilities are endless. I have some 7 or 8′ sections of t3 and t7 to try with my 10′ mini Skagit heads. Should be just the ticket. I’m looking forward to cracking my little Tiger Eye out again and making another video! Thanks for your input, Let me know how it goes!

  3. I love this idea! The guys at OPST recommend their 150-grain 10′ head for 3wt rods under 9′, and a quick check on the scale at my local fly shop puts the 10′ Heavy Floating MOW Tip at 146 grains, so this sounds about perfect for the 7’6″ 3wt I use.

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