The Myth about Skagit Rod/Line Length Ratios

We have often been asked for the “rules” surrounding rod length line length ratios for skagit casting. Well who better to talk about that than the man himself  …


… this is part of a thread written by Ed Ward on the skagitmaster forum.


” ….. Skagit Rod/Line length Ratios
– Maximum Line length (belly + tip) – 3.5 times rod length.
– Minimum Line length (belly + tip)  – 1.75 times rod length.
   These figures are often stated as “rules” and for beginning/novice casters, they should be thought of as such. The max length of 3.5 has been determined by the fact that lines longer than this ratio become increasingly difficult to position and sweep without breaking the arms away from the body. “Breaking away” is counter productive to the “effortless power” aspect of Skagit casting because that effortless power action is dependent on keeping the pivot point of the sweep movement as compact and tight-to-the-body as possible.
   The minimum length of 1.75 has been determined by the fact that line lengths less than this ratio are difficult to maintain sufficient anchoring of the line on the water during the forward casting stroke to conduct that forward casting stroke without prematurely blowing the line off of the water.
   My recommendation for general purpose casting/angling or entry-level casters is a ratio around 2.75 to 3. Longer ratios of 3 to 3.5 are used for achieving maximum distance as that follows the “longer line, longer casts” rule of flycasting in general. A less-than-2.5 ratio would be selected primarily for tight quarters casting as the shorter the line, the shorter the resulting D-loop. Also, shorter ratios will increase the capacity of any given rod/line system to cast heavier tips and/or flies because “compacting” the overall weight of the line into a shorter package increases the grains-per-foot status of the line.
   As stated earlier, these rod/line ratios are presented as “rules”, but for advanced/expert casters that have established an effective, efficient Skagit casting “core” (Sweep-Turnover-Casting Stroke sequence), these rules become guidelines that can be “breached” to accomodate specialized situations. Lines longer than 3.5 can be cast by “breaking away” during line positioning movements, but one must then “re-establish” – AFTER the line is “set” and BEFORE conducting the Sweep – a “tight, fixed, central” casting pivot point… not exactly an easy action for a novice or even intermediate caster to accomplish. Lines less than 1.75 times rod length can be cast by lowering the plane of the Sweep, increasing the speed of the Sweep (to keep the lower altitude line from hitting the water) and narrowing the separation-of-planes action of the Turnover to a measurement of inches… another not-so-conducive-to-novice-casters process. These are actions that demand constant, vigilant attention and as such are only employed for VERY specialized situations, even by expert casters. …”



Tuning In …

… to the ECHO Skagit Intermediate shooting head.

We get quite a few questions regarding which size (weight) of ECHO Skagit Intermediate to use, in particular compared with an ECHO Skagit Compact. We’ll try and put some light on the subject ….

… one of the first things you will notice when casting one of the ECHO Skagit Intermediates is that these heads loads your rod quicker than a standard Skagit Compact. Consequently, you actually feel you would like to fish a slightly lighter head. As a general rule of thumb, we have found out that you can load your rod with a head 30 grains lighter than you would with a Skagit Compact, perhaps even 60 grains lighter on medium or slow action rods. From a sink-tip perspective, you’ll notice you won’t need to fish such heavy tips as with a floating Skagit head; for runs where you used to use 12ft/3.6m of T-14 you may only now need 10ft/3m of T-10 to get into the “zone”.

Have fun.

Building Your Two Handed Arsenal

This article appeared on The ECHO Blog sometime a go – it was written by Tom Larimer. Hope you enjoy it….

As a guide and casting instructor, I have the opportunity to watch a diverse range of casters use a lot of different gear. It’s funny how many of my clients have six different rods in their quiver yet they always seem to reach for a particular one. Typically, it’s the one that works best for their natural casting stroke therefore it’s the sweetheart of the bunch.


Tom Larimer


I’m also amazed at how diverse the rod actions are in most anglers’ arsenals. Just the other day I was guiding a gentleman that had four rods in the boat. One of them was a really slow action stick that bent way into the cork during a cast. Another was a medium-fast rod that turned out to be his sweetheart. The other two rods where extremely fast sticks that he had bought on the suggestion of a friend but really struggled to cast them well.

While it’s great to have a number of rods rigged for different fishing situations, it does you no good if you can cast only one of them with proficiency. Before you spend a ton of money on building your collection of rods, it’s critical to find an action that suites you well and use it as your baseline for future purchases.

If you’re completely new to fly fishing and decided to jump feet first into Spey fishing, a good starting point would be a medium-fast action rod, something like the ECHO TR series. Ninety percent of casters feel the most comfortable in this action.

If you’re new to Spey casting but are already fishing single-hand rods, this part of the equation is simple! Just take a look at the action of your favorite fly rod and try to match it in the Spey world.

For example, If you like casting soft bamboo rods or slow groovy graphite rods, you’ll more than likely gravitate towards a slow action stick like the ECHO DH series. On the other hand, if you like a more medium action trout rod, a better choice would be an Echo TR. And finally, if you’re an aggressive caster and demand high line speeds out of your single-hander, step up to the ECHO3 series.

Bottom line; try to match the preferred action of your single-hander to your Spey rods and life will be good.

One of the beauties of ECHO is every rod within a series casts the same. This is not the case with many manufactures. However, once you find an ECHO that fits your stroke, you can build your quiver knowing that your #6 weight is going to feel the same as your #8 weight. From a fishing standpoint, this equates to more consistency in your casting which in turn means more fish to your fly.

Happy Casting!

Tom Larimer


The “Scandit” Rig and How I fish it

This is a follow up article to The Scandit Approach, and explains how I fish a “Scandit” set up.

Line Weights.
Generally speaking I go for much lighter line weights for this “Scandit” style of casting than those which are recommended for “traditional” Skagit. Typically Tim Rajeff recommends line weights for his ECHO rods which are sometimes as much as 100 grains (just under 7 grams) heavier than the weights I use for Scandit. For example, if we consider the ECHO TR 7130 – Tim recommends using a 570 grain ECHO Skagit Compact for that rod, I load it with a 480 grain ECHO Rage or a 510 grain ECHO Skagit Compact – a difference of up to 90grains (6g).

My Set up and how to fish it
I use all ECHO Skagit and Cross-Over heads (ECHO Rage) as regular multi-tip lines, just adding either a poly-leader or a length of Tx as the conditions require.

  1. Spring Fishing, large flies heavy water:
    This is where the ECHO Skagit Compact heads come into their own, combine them with one of Tim Rajeff’s Custom Cut Tips (you can choose between T10, T14 and T18 in either 10ft or 18ft) and your fishing set-up becomes incredibly flexible.
  2. Summer fishing – normal size flies:
    For this type of fishing I normally use the ECHO Rage Heads. To use them as ” regular multi tip line” I just combine them with a poly leader – I use either an intermediate, slow sink or fast sink. If I am fishing in areas of complex currents or need to go down a bit deeper, then I use an ECHO Skagit Intermediate. If the river is in flood then I normally use a set up similar to that I would use for spring fishing.
  3. Autumn Fishing -normal size flies:
    Same as for Summer Fishing, if however the water is in flood then same as for Spring Fishing.

The ECHO Skagit Compact, Skagit Switch and Skagit Intermediate Heads are not intended to replace the ECHO Scandi Compact, they are designed for a totally different job. Use them with large flies and/or if you want your fly to fish deep. A Skagit Head system combined with CCT’s enables you to “hang” the fly over lies and pockets whilst fishing deeper than with a conventional line set up. You can fish all the way in to your own bank without the belly getting snagged on rocks which is often the case when fishing full sinking lines. If this wasn’t in itself enough Skagit Head systems are also incredibly easy to cast with.

Use the ECHO Rage if its windy. The Rage was originally designed to cast large bushy dry flies to steel head on the PNW, it is not quite as delicate as a full-blown scandi head but it is very good at casting in the wind. Cast it like you would a standard scandi, changing the polyleader up front to meet the type of fishing you are doing. If you want to chuck bombers or giant caddis or other mutant dry-flies at salmon or sea trout or hitch a micro-tube, use a Rage with a length of mono up front.

These short, aggressive tapered “skagit” heads are extremely easy to cast and by using an appropriate weight for underhand casting I am convinced you will be surprised at how easy it is to cast with them and how delicate a skagit head can present a fly and who knows you might even become “a believer.”

Have fun experimenting.

The Scandit Approach

When I started on “this Skagit thing” about  5 or 6 years ago just after Tim Rajeff introduced the ECHO Dec Hogan Range of Skagit rods, I was extremely sceptical and like most other European salmon fishers I had all the standard clichés firmly embedded in my head: too much splash…, disturbance is enough to scare pheasants let alone salmon…, ‘don’t need lengths of T18 (what the #+*~%  is T18 anyway?) …, what can a Skagit do that a sunk line can’t …you know what I mean. Now some years down the road I have been converted. Not only do I use Skagit heads but also Skagit-switch heads (approx 5m long), also crossover type heads like the ECHO Rage  and more recently Skagit intermediate heads on my 1Handers, Switch-Rods and grown up 2Handers.

I’m a believer
But why? Simply because they are very very easy to cast with. Casting becomes a no-brainer. Skagit heads were designed by guides (not the industry) on the PNW to fulfill one purpose: to get their clients into fish, quickly. IMHO that’s totally customer driven from the guides if you like a “service” push: the faster the client gets a fish, the more he can catch (in a day) (the more he speaks about me as a guide, the more customers I get, etc etc) and not a product push from the industry.

Most of my salmon fishing is in the summer, simply because “my” spring time is full of shows all across Europe and I just don’t have time to get on a river. Because I fish in the summer I don’t generally need to use long lengths of Tx and large flies stuck on the end. I use normal sized salmon and sea trout flies. However I have adapted the line weight accordingly and I use a “Scandinavian underhand” casting style ie dominant lower hand for delivery.
If you like we could call this “scandit casting” (now there’s another one for the pundits )

Scandit what the #+*% is that?
I cast the Skagit Heads the same way as I would cast a modern scandi-shooting head, normally with a single spey (right or left), snake roll, snap-“x” and one of my favourites the perry poke. As mentioned above I go for [much] lighter head weights for this Scandit style of casting than our cousins over the pond would use for “normal” Skagit. I use at least the lowest weight in the grain window for a given rod, sometimes even going below it. As a general rule of thumb use the same weight as you do for a scandi head, however if you decide to use a skagit-switch (5m length) on a grownup 2hander, you might even consider going below this weight (grains per foot are higher for the short lines – enormous amount of mass – awesome to cast with). The same applies for a skagit intermediate; because of the reduced diameter you can generate much higher line speed (lower wind resistance).

Where do I use Skagit lines?

  1. In tight very tight corners or on heavily overgrown stretches of water. The short heads are ideal if you do not have room to form a decent D-Loop, combined with a perry to place the anchor its an awesome combination.
  2. On the coast fishing for sea trout in the sea
  3. Using large wake flies for sea trout or bomber-type flies for salmon
  4. When fishing in high winds
  5. Pike fishing

Give yourself a push, drop the clichés, find out for yourself try the “scandit” approach I am sure you will not regret it.

Have fun debating – I’m off to do a bit of scandit casting on my local sea trout river and to think about the next article in this series …

ECHO Skagit Compact

Try casting 15ft of lead core on the end of your regular Spey line and you’ll quickly find its not up to the job – enter the ECHO Compact Skagit . Skagit lines were originally developed by the Steelhead freaks of the Pacific North West to get flies in front of fish regardless of environment. These short high power heads have the ability to make a cast in tight confined spaces, which often means the difference between success and failure.


Tim Rajeff’s good friend Tom Larimer guides the mighty rivers of Oregon and Washington and as a pro steelhead and king salmon guide he needed a series of lines that allowed his clients to quickly get the hang of fishing heavy level sink tips and BIG flies. So he spoke to Tim about his needs and together they came up with the ECHO Skagit Compact.

As with any line the shorter the head the more critical the weight; by refining the taper and length of the ECHO Skagit Compact from 23ft/7m to 27ft/8.2m depending on head weight, they’ve created 15 models from: 360grains/25g to 810grains/53g in 30grain/2g increments that ensure you’ll be able to find the perfect match for your favourite rod.

As with all ECHO Spey-Lines the front loop has the line size and line type printed on it for easy recognition. ECHO Spey-lines do not contain softener’s and are environmentally friendly.

Designed by ECHO’s Tim Rajeff with Tom Larimer
Manufactured by AirFlo in the UK
Distributed exclusively by BalticFlyFisher 😎