Guideline Connect Shooting Head, British Columbia

Pros and cons of shooting heads Vs long belly line

For those of us who are keen freshwater anglers we are seeing a marked trend towards shooting head lines similar to those which have been developed in Scandinavia and have been on the salmon fishing circuit there for a long time. They offer superb versatility to the roaming angler who tackles fish in variety of conditions and types of water. Systems such as the Guideline Power Taper setup allow the use of one reel with running line onto which different head densities can be looped on once the optimal head length for that particular rod had been calculated. These range from floating through to intermediates to heavy density sinking tips. Spare heads can be kept in a pocket and attached to the running line to suit the prevailing conditions in a matter of minutes.

These lines require a much more punchy style of casting; Scandinavian underhand casting was developed around lines with these profiles. They are ideal for people coming to grips with Spey casting as they make casting sinking lines and heavy tube flies relatively easy. The only downside is the potential of tangles with the loops of thin running line during the casting process but with a little practice it soon becomes effortless. Shooting heads are reasonably priced from around £20 for the running lines and around £30 for individual heads which are then cut down to suit the rod.

Conversely there are still the traditionalists who support the use of long belly lines such as the Lee Wulff Triangle taper series and Carron Jetstream lines. With heads up to 95’ long compared to the shooting heads length of 35’ they require a much more traditional style of Spey casting – one that would be commonplace on Scotland’s prestigious salmon beats. In anything more than floater these lines are not for the faint hearted and require a smooth rhythm and timing to get the best out of them. However when finally mastered they are a joy to cast and allow one to really show off with distance casting. These specialised lines are generally more expensive and the Carron lines depending on the specification can be up to £105.

Things can be complicated further by adding interchangeable tips lines such as those pioneered by Rio. These have their fans and can be useful as a versatile line with the ability to quickly adjust to different types of water. But in my opinion the shooting head system whilst similar is much easier to cast further particularly using fast sinking tips and heavy tube flies.

Whatever ones abilities, the huge variety of Spey lines on the market make it worth while experimenting with a few different types to find the one that suits your casting style best and allow you to cover water effectively and hopefully reap the rewards.