Feature Image: Aaron Goodis, courtesy Bridge Fly Fishing
I’m one to fish whatever line suits the conditions I face: small flies and smaller water — scandi; big water dryline — long belly; and in winter I typically fish a skagit line with my sinktips. But I can’t honestly say I love casting a skagit line like I do a scandi or longer floating line. And enjoying my casting is something I value — we do a lot of it.
Enter the Bridge Wintertide line. It’s a slightly longer, more refined taper than most “traditional” — shorter — skagits, which typically have a pretty blunt front taper and can feel a little “clunky.”
At Bridge owner Tim Arsenault’s suggestion, I threw a 550 grain Bridge Wintertide on my 14′ 8wt Meiser (S2H14079CX-6) with 10′ of T-10 for a sinktip. (This rod would normally cast a 600-grain skagit for me.)
The very first cast lit my face up with a big wide grin — graceful and buttery smooth — almost like a floating line. With great line speed, increased distance potential and great turnover, it was a joy I can’t say I’ve found with a skagit line.
The Wintertide is a line for bigger, broader water — those sprawling gravel bar runs where moderate sinktips rule the day: think Hoh, Bogachiel, Skagit for NW US waters. It’d also be at home on the water I grew up on in the Great Lakes, Michigan’s Grand, and the bigger, broader water of Canada — where it was designed by master spey caster and instructor Tim Arsenault. And it casts best with smaller to mid-sized winter flies. My favorite winter steelhead bugs of about 3″ and lightly weighted were no problem.
An additional consideration: Man, I love the subtle, understated colors Tim chose for all his lines. Taper and casting aside, I’d buy Bridge lines just because I love looking at them on my reels and in the water.
If you find yourself on brush-choked coastal streams, casting 4″ lead-eye chickens or T14 and T17, the shorter true skagits might still be preferred. Otherwise, I think a Wintertide will make you smile.