Thanks to Poppy at the Redshed Fly Shop I was able to implement the try before you buy plan and try a couple Airflo Skagit Scout heads and a 10′ OPST Micro Spey floating tip.
I picked the Airflo Skagit Scout 180 grain as opposed to the OPST Commando head because I wanted to use a little lighter grain weight than OPST recommended and a longer shooting head.
I instantly discovered that the longer shooting head coupled with OPST’s longest floating micro tip actually seemed pretty darned long when it came to fishing the coastal stream to which I currently have ready access. I felt a little over gunned and was wishing I had a shorter rod and shorter head and tip for casting from underneath the low hanging limbs and trying to slip my fly beneath the leafy branches on the opposite bank.
The set up cast pretty decent even though the tip of the circumference of the shooting head was a tad thicker than the butt of the OPST floating tip. It wasn’t a perfect match but it flew pretty good and was easy to cast, although it took a wee bit of adjustment after casting the longer lighter Rio in Touch Single hand Spey line. It felt pretty heavy at first but after playing with it for an hour or so I slowed myself down enough that I thoroughly enjoyed the line and found it a challenge to fire little darts that slipped under the low branches.
I came up with the conclusion that this set up would work pretty good for medium sized rivers and larger with the distances achievable with minimum effort.
It’s easy casting for light Streamer and Soft Hackle fishing. 14-year-old Charlie had no trouble launching some beautiful effortless casts on the upper Deschutes, with very little time to get used to the outfit. I almost had to bribe him to get it back.
I can definitely see the advantages of using the ultra-short OPST Commando Skagit heads and 5′ to 7.5′ floating tips, especially for stripping in short. You definitely have to strip the shooting head back through the guides if you want to cover water close to you. But it definitely is capable of reaching out a long ways if that is where you need your fly to land.
If you are wondering wich OPST Commando head or Airflo Skagit Scout to buy for your particular fly rod and fishing scenario I would definitely give them a call and get their recommendation.
Also, I would recommend giving Poppy a call and try out a line weight above and below what is recommended just to make double sure you don’t buy a shooting head heavier or lighter than you find suitable for your personal preference.
This was a fun experiment. I’ll dig out a few sink tips and try to find enough water to swim some weighted fliest through and be back as soon as I am able.