Clear intermediate sinking, or “slime lines” are an extremely versatile fly line that I believe don’t receive the recognition they deserve. What these lines are is a full sinking line that simply falls at a very controlled rate of 0.5-2 inches per second. They don’t hang up in shallow water, they’re very useful in fishing sub-surface and best of all they’re totally clear. Here’s my 5 favourite applications:
1) Scuds & Ledges – Freshwater shrimp are a huge part of a trout’s diet, they are the Big Mac of the underwater world and there’s a reason that lakes holding massive rainbows will typically have a large scud population. What I will do with my clear intermediate line is find a ledge or a dropoff and anchor parallel to it. If I can’t visually distinguish it, I’ll use my depth sounder to tell me right where the transition is. From here, I will cast along the drop off or slightly over it onto the deep side. With a quite erratic twitch retrieve I will bring the shrimp back to the boat with the occasional pause to allow my fly to fall. Takes are usually quite savage.
2) Leeching on the Flats – This is an amazing application for the clear intermediate sinking line. Because you can retrieve leeches at a somewhat accelerated pace, you don’t have to worry about hanging up on bottom when you’re fishing in 10 feet of water or less with a clear intermediate line. I like to find a nice big mud flat that fish can cruise up from the depths and feed on for a good period of time before returning back to the deep water where they are comfortable. Make the longest cast you can efficiently make and start retrieving almost immediately. Allow sporadic pauses to allow your fly to sink.
3) Sight Fishing – Sight fishing is incredibly exciting. Nothing beats watching a fish swim over and inhale your offering. A lot of times you will see the fish eat before you will even feel your line tighten up. The reason I choose clear intermediate lines for sight fishing is a) they get your fly down and keep it down below the surface b) there is no wake on the surface that floating lines tend to created when stripped c) they are clear, I don’t have to worry about running a long leader on a floating line to avoid spooking fish.
4) Blobbing – Blobs are not a new pattern by any means, but they seem to be increasingly popular every stillwater season as a reliable fly that really doesn’t mimic anything but seems to do a number on big rainbows. Blobs are very similar to a Booby pattern without the foam set of large round eyes (hence the name) that the booby is known for. Blobs fish well when fish are keyed in on Daphnea or glassworms, if nothing else eliciting an aggression strike. My favourite way to fish blobs on a clear sink is to allow the appropriate sink time (you don’t want this fly on the bottom as you do a booby because it lacks buoyancy), and begin a series of short fast strips coupled with an occasional 2 second pause.
5) Crawling Mayflies – Last year I published an article on a few different ways to fish mayflies, the clear intermediate sinking line made that list for good reason. My favourite intermediate line for this application is Scientific Anglers’ Sonar Titan Full Intermediate which sinks at an even rate of 1.25 inches per second, allowing me to crawl my mayfly nymph without hanging up on weeds. Other than its stealth appearance, one big advantage to this line compared to a floating line is that not only are you getting a nice uniform sink it does not create a wake on the surface when stripping in.
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