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Most sinking lines are weight forward. Shooting heads can also be either floating or sinking. The primary difference between the weight forward and the shooting heads is that the shooting head has a separate running line behind it that tends to be a smaller diameter than most weight forward running line components. Thus, a shooting head will usually go to deeper depths than a similar sinking line due to less line resistance. There tends to be about six sink rate categories for sinking lines. Not all of them are equal between the manufacturers. The Uniform Sinking lines will sink as a straight line between the fly and the rod. This is mostly a stillwater-type of line. The Shooting heads can be used in either stillwaters or large streams. They were developed primarily for salmon and steelhead streams. The Sink Rate is based upon a stillwater situation. Therefore, any current within the streams or the speed of trolling in a float tube will affect the effective depth of the line. Theoretically, all of the lines will reach the same effective depth if left at a dead drift. The sinking rate differences will only reflect the speed at which the line sinks. Some guides prefer to use slower sinking lines such as Type I or II in stillwater depths up to 20'. They will countdown the time for the fly to reach a certain depth based upon the line rating before using a kick troll or a line retreive. The advantage of the slower sinking lines is that they remain within the fish zone for a longer period of time.

A guide to this sink rate classification and the effective stillwater depth is as follows:

TYPE CHARACTER SINK RATE (inch/second) Effective Depth
1 slow (intermediate) 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 ips 2' to 4'
2 fast 2 1/2 - 3 ips 3'-6'
3 extra fast 3 1/2 - 4 ips 5'-10'
4 super sinker 4 1/4 - 5 ips 10'-20'
5 super fast 5 1/4 - 6 ips 10'-20'
6 extra super sinker 6 1/4 - 7 ips 15'-25'

Sinking Lines


Model Weight Color Front Taper Body Rear Taper Head Length Run Length Sink Rate/Depth
S.A. Uniform Sink Plus WF5-WF10, Class I Blue or Midnight 3.5' to 6.5' 30.5' to 34.0' 2.5' to 3.5' 40.0' 50.0' 0.5-2.0 ips / 2-4'
S.A. Uniform Sink Plus WF5-WF10, Class II Blue or Midnight 3.5' to 6.5' 30.5' to 34.0' 2.5' to 3.5' 40.0' 50.0' 1.75-2.75 ips / 3-6'
S.A. Uniform Sink Plus WF6-WF10, Class III Blue or Midnight 3.5' to 5.0' 32.0' to 34.5' 2.0' to 3.0' 40.0' 50.0' 2.5-3.5 ips / 5-10'
S.A. Uniform Sink Plus WF6-WF10, Class IV Blue or Midnight 3.0' to 4.5' 32.5' to 35.0' 2.0' to 2.5' 40.0' 50.0' 4.0-5.0 ips / 10-20'
S.A. Uniform Sink Plus WF7-WF10, Class V Blue or Midnight 3.0' to 4.5' 32.5' to 35.0' 2.0' to 2.5' 40.0' 50.0' 4.5-6.0 ips / 10-20'
S.A. Stillwater WF3-WF9, Intermediate Clear 6.0'-10.7' 21.0'-30.0' 7.0'-15.0' 35.0'-56.0' 34.0'-55.0' 1.25-2.0 ips / 2-4'
Airflo Anti-wake WF5-WF9, Intermediate Golden Olive 10.0' 27.0' 4.0' 41.0' 49.0' 0.5 ips / 1-2'
Airflo Delta WF6-WF9, Class III, V, VII, & VIII Dark Brn-Di3, Char Gray-Di5, Black-Di7,8 20.0' 16.0' 10.0' 46.0' 44.0' 3.0, 5.0, 7.0, 8.0 ips respectively
Airflo Sinking WF6-WF9, Class II to VI Dark Grn- Di2, Dark Brn- Di3, Mid Blue- Di4, Char Gray-Di5, Black-Di6, Di7 10.0' 27.0' 4.0' 46.0' 44.0' 2.0 to 7.0 ips
Airflo Sixth Sense WF6-WF9, Class I, III, V Trans Olive-Int, Trans Grn- Int, Dark Grn- Di3, Dark Blue- Di5, 20.0' 16.0' 10.0' 46.0' 59.0'

0.5, 1.5, 3.0, 5.0 ips respectively

Cortland 444SL Steady Sink WF5-WF10, Class I Light Gray 5.0' to 7.0' 20.0' to 24.0' 6.0' 31.0-37.0' 52.5-58.5' 1.25-1.75 ips / 2-4'
Cortland 444SL Steady Sink WF5-WF10, Class II Lt.Med Gray 5.0' 20.0' to 22.0' 6.0' 31.0-33.0' 53.5-59.5' 2.5-3.0 ips / 5-8'
Cortland 444SL Steady Sink WF5-WF10, Class III Medium Gray 4.0' to 6.0' 20.0' to 24.0' 6.0' 30.0-36.0' 52.5-58.5' 3.5-4.0 ips / 9-15'
Cortland 444SL Steady Sink WF5-WF10, Class VI Black 4.0' to 6.0' 20.0' to 24.0' 6.0' 30.0-36.0' 68.5-74.5' 6.25-7.0 ips / 15-25'
Cortland 444SL Clear Camo Line WF4-WF8, Intermediate Clear Camo 5.0' to 7.0' 27.0' 5.0' to 7.0' 38.0-42.0' 63.0-67.0' 1.25-1.75 ips / 2-4'
Cortland 333+ Sinking WF5-WF10, Class III Dark Brown 5.0' 28.0' 4.0' 40.0' 1.0' 3.50-4.0 ips / 9-15'
Cortland 444SL Clear Intermediate WF6-WF8, Intermediate Clear 5.0' 29.0' 4.0 40.0' 1.0' 1.25-1.75 ips / 2-4'
Cortland 444SL Sinking WF6-WF8, Class III Clear 5.0' 29.0' 4.0' 40.0' 1.0' 3.5-4.0 ips / 8-15'
Rio Deep Full Sink WF4-WF8, Class III Brown or Black 6.0' to 9.0' 21.0' to 24.5' 6.0' to 8.0' 33.5' to 42.0' 47' to 53' 3-4 ips / 8-15'
Rio Deep Full Sink WF4-WF8, Class IV Brown or Black 6.0' to 9.0' 21.0' to 24.5' 6.0' to 8.0' 33.5' to 42.0' 47' to 53' 4-5 ips / 10-20'
Rio Deep Full Sink WF4-WF9, Class VI Brown or Black 6.0' to 9.0' 21.0' to 24.5' 6.0' to 8.0' 33.5' to 42.0' 47' to 53' 6-7 ips / 15-25'
Rio Aqualux WF3-WF9, Intermediate Clear 4.7' to 8.7' 25.8' to 30.8' 3.0' to 6.0' 34.0' to 46.0' 52.0' to 60' 1.5-2 ips / 2-4'
Rio Deep 7 WF7, Class VII Black 6.8' 30.0' 4.5' 40.0' 60' 7-9 ips / 15-25'

 

Links to Sinking Line Manufacturers


Scientific Angler Logo
Sharkskin Streamer SA Uniform Sink Plus
Stillwater Sharkskin Streamer Professional Sink (6 sink types) Uniform Sink Plus (4 sink types)
The SA Stillwater is an intermediate line especially good in clear water applications for shallow presentations. It has a moderate stiffness and smaller diameter to cast within windy conditions. The Sharkskin Streamer Express has a 30 foot head with fast sinking rates and a super slick running line for long casts. The Professional Full Sink Series is their original Wet-Cel lines with 6 sinking rates to choose. Line colors correspond to line types: Type 1 - Light Green, Type 2- Green, Type 3 - Dark Green, Type 4 - Gray, and Type 6 - Dark Gray, Intermediate - Clear. The Uniform Sink Plus line allows for a even-sinking, straight line presentation. The line has a low stiffness to eliminate line sag within the water column.
Airflo Logo
AirFlo Slow Intermediate Sixth Sense
Ridge Clear Delta (2 types) Sixth Sense
The Ridge Clear is an intermediate sinking line is designed to fish just below the surface to avoid any waking effects from the line upon the water surface. It has the slowest sink rate of any line at 0.5" per sec. The Delta sinking lines have longer heads for better distance casting. Their Di 8 has the fastest sink rate of all lines at 8' per sec. Sixth Sense is a low stretch line trying to emulate braided lines for greater sensitivity to hook strikes using a braided core. It comes with the same tapers as the Delta lines with a longer running line. They have 3 sinking rates to choose from 3 to 7 ips.
Rio Logo
Rio Density Compensated Full Sink Rio Aqualux Intermediate Clear Rio Deep 7 Sink
Deep 3, 4, 6 Aqualux Inter. Sink Deep 7 Sink Mainstream Sink Mainstream Intermediate
Deep 3,4,6 is a density compensated line in which the tip is slightly heavier to allow the line to sink in a straight line without a sag. Rio makes this line in 3 sink rates, Type 3,4, and 6. Aqualux is a specialty line for lake fishing using a clear intermediate sinking head with a trans. green running line. The running line is coated with lubricants for better castability. Deep 7 is designed for Chrionomid fishing in lakes with a sink rate of 7-9 ips. Comes only in 7 weight but can also be used on 5-6 weight rods. Mainstream Series utilizes shorter heads and tapers for easier casting. The Mainstream Sinking lines comes only Type 3 and 6. There is also an Intermediate line available.
Cortland Logo
Cortland Clear Camo Intermediate Cortland 444 Clear Intermediate Cortland 444SL Steady Sink Cortland 333ht Sinking Line
Precision Clear Camo 444 Clear Camo 444SL Classic Sink 333+ Sink (Type3)
Precision Clear Camo is an Intermediate line with a clear, stealthy presentation. It uses Cortland's Rocket Taper which is a long front and rear taper with a short body producing tight loops in casting. The Presicion Clear Camo has the ability to remain supple within many temperatures. The 444 Clear camo is actually clearer than Precision clear camo with many of the same features but is temperature sensitive. The 444sl Classic Sink is Cortland's density-compensated line which allows the line to descent in a straight line without sagging. Comes in 3 sink rates. The 333 series was the first synthetic fly line produced in 1953. They've reengineered the line into it's own brand by designing it for fast action rods with a longer belly to allow for extra loading of the rod. The 333+ Sink for fast water and level trolling with a Type 3 sink rate. It comes in both DT and WF.

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