I've always loved Scandi heads for floating line presentations. From the moment I first cast them over ten years ago, I grooved on the line speed and tight loops I could throw. However, Scandi heads have their faults.
First, they suck in the wind. The long, delicate front taper, which gives Scandi's there finesse-like feel, crumbles in even a modest breeze. Not sure if it isn't windy in Europe, but the summer steelhead rivers I guide -mostly the Deschutes and the Klickitat, are windy places. -As are every other big western river. The other problem with Scandi heads is they struggle to turn-over foam skaters and large wet flies. (Yes, I know you can do it... But it's not fun.) There just isn't enough mass in the front of the line to give the caster sufficient turnover. As long as I'm ragging on Scandi heads... Another shortcoming is that most anglers struggle when they switch from their Skagit to their Scandi. These lines cast so dramatically different! I hate watching anglers waste precious fishing time trying to shift gears!
So why not just put a floating tip on a Skagit and call it good? Good question! The problem is when you cast a Skagit with a sink-tip, most of the sink-tip is in the water during the D-Loop formation. The caster is effectively feeling the load of the Skagit head alone. When you loop on a floating tip, you need to arialize more D-loop. Consequently, you feel the weight of the Skagit plus the 60-some grains in the floating tip. -60 grains is an entire line size! Ever notice your floating tip makes your rod feel mushy? And, it’s awfully easy to throw a tailing loop. That's because your rod can't handle the added grain weight in the D-loop. The Skagit + floating tip was a band-aid solution to a bigger problem.
What I really wanted was a Spey line built for surface and near-surface presentations that bucked like a Skagit but still had the finesse of a Scandi. Tim Rajeff, the US. distributor of Airflo and over-all fly casting guru, gave me the green light to start working on a new breed of line. With the help of Tim and the design team at Rajeff Sports, we came up with the answer to all of our problems. The new Airflo Rage Compact is the perfect floating line to compliment your Airflo Skagit Compact or Skagit Switch. To be blunt, it is by far my favorite floating line.
As a general rule of thumb, line your rod 60 grains lighter than your Skagit. If you like a faster -livelier feel to your floating line and have a very bottom-hand dominant stroke, go 90 grains lighter. Either way, the thing jacks! Like all of Airflo's Spey heads, the line comes in 30 grain increments and is available in 360 grains to 600 grains. I recommend using a 10' Airflo Poly Leader with 2' to 4' of tippet. Advanced casters may appreciate a 14' Poly Leader. I fish an intermediate leader even with skaters.
Awesome for sinking Poly Leaders
If you fish shallower rivers in the West like the John Day or smaller rivers in the Great Lakes, the Rage will easily handle a sinking Poly Leader and an un-weighted fly. It's a great line on rivers where a full-blown sink-tip is overkill. I wouldn't try casting a big weighted bug, but it'll jack an un-weighted tube a mile.
Too be clear, we did not design this line for sink-tips. However, we knew people would try it. A strong caster can loop a 10' sink-tip in T-7 or T-10 and get away with it. -It's not going to throw anything big or heavy though. In a pinch, she'll get er' done with a light fly. Please don't loop on 12' of T-17 and a big intruder and expect it to perform.
The Rage is also a killer floating line for switch rods! I was blown away how well this thing casts on a switch stick. As a rule of thumb, line it 30 grains lighter than your Skagit Switch. Just for reference, most #7 weight switch rods are taking a 420 grain head. It made me re-think the rods I fish!