Which Sinkant? Leader Sink Treatments for Fly Fishing

Getting your leader material to sink is very important for a number of reasons when fly fishing. In this blog post we take a closer look at popular fly fishing leader sink treatments and why you need them.

Fly fishing de-greasers on test

Fly fishing de-greasers on test.

Why use sinkant?

Firstly, if your tippet floats on the surface film it is far more visible to the fish – especially if the lake surface is calm or if you are fishing small dry flies to selective fish on the river. A floating leader can also hinder the descent rate of your flies – not good if you want to fish a team of super glue buzzers deep, or unweighted wet flies for example.

Leader material, whether Co-polymer or Fluorocarbon often has a glossy, shiny finish that can potentially spook trout – more so in bright conditions. Many leader treatments have the added benefit of taking the shine off the leader, therefore making your tippet less obvious to the fish.

Do I need to de-grease fluorocarbon?

Fluorocarbon sinks faster than nylon or co-polymer due to its higher density, so once it is actually under the surface it will sink quickly. However it can be hard to get fluorocarbon to break through the surface tension – this is due to it’s inherent stiffness, shininess and oily, slick finish fresh off the factory spooling machines. Fine diameter fluorocarbon is particularly prone to staying put in the surface meniscus unless it is de-greased thoroughly.

Furthermore fluorocarbon is almost inert and does not absorb any water or dirt whilst fishing to help it sink. (Unlike mono or co-poly). Therefore de-greasing fluorocarbon regularly is required if you want to consistently cut through the surface film in technical situations at the surface.

The Options?

We took our most popular tippet de-greaser compounds and did a ‘bucket test’ on each one using both co-polymer and fluorocarbon. A two foot length was cut off, treated, then dropped into the water. We noted how quickly the leader material sank, and made a few observations of their properties.

Leader bucket test

Leader bucket test.

1. Orvis Mud leader Sinkant – £3.25

Mud has been around for a long, long time. It has quite a nicely textured feel and seems to be a bit firmer in it’s formula than it was years ago. We found it clung to the line very well and sank the tippets on our test immediately. It took a lot of the shine off, but needed a couple of applications on the fluorocarbon. The tub it is supplied with is very handy and can be attached to your vest easily. A downside is the fairly high cost. Overall excellent stuff.

2. Gerkes Xink fly fishing treatment – £6.99

We found Xink to be a bit of an oddity. It was hard to get just a moderate quantity out of the bottle and it left a nasty slick on the fingers. Smeared liberally on the leader line and dropped into the water it left a greasy slick and the tippet still floating high! No amount of persuasion would get it under. Xink can be applied to flies easily and even fly lines (e.g slow intermediates that refuse to sink) so perhaps we were missing something? But for treating your leader it was next to useless.

3. Dick Walkers Ledasink – £1.59

An ever popular treatment, Ledasink was formulated by the late, great Dick Walker. It stuck to the leader very well due to its tacky consistency and lasted a long time before needing to de-grease again. It also dulled the finish of the material in our tests well. It looked and performed exactly like the Orvis mud – it is probably the same stuff. A very good product.

4. Airflo Tippet De-greaser – £2.50

Supplied in a square tub, quantity is more generous than the others. The Airflo formula seemed to be a little coarser in texture than the others and not quite as smooth. We found this removed the shine from the tippet material very readily, even more so than Ledasink. It was not quite as sticky on the finger, but clung to the leader just as well as Orvis mud. Decent value for money.

On the bottom

Tippet material – well sunk!