Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of clear lines or those that have a clear monofilament tip (aka ghost tip)? Also, how do you attach the leader’s butt section to this sort of line?
A: There are two types of clear fly lines. One is a regular fly line with a clear front portion. The other is clear throughout its entire length. Some clear lines have an intermediate sink rate, while others are designed to float. However, since almost all clear floating lines barely float, they typically ride a little higher in saltwater than in fresh.
Clear fly lines essentially create an extended leader, and some of the top tarpon and bonefish guides in the Florida Keys feel they offer a great advantage with wary or heavily fished species, generating more takes by these fish. Full-length clear lines cast better than almost any regular lines on the market today. They also seem less likely to tangle than conventional lines.
A disadvantage of clear lines is accuracy. Many anglers don’t realize it, but we monitor the line in flight. That’s why few experienced fly-fishermen wear a hat with a long bill that prevents seeing the line as it travels to the target. Fly-fishermen cast more accurately with a line they can see, and many prefer brightly colored lines for this reason.
When connecting these clear lines to the leader’s butt section, a nail knot will often strip off the clear line when pressure is applied. An Albright, meanwhile, is a bulky knot and requires using something to mold around it to help it travel through the guides.
An excellent, smooth connection that is barely visible underwater can be created with a 16-inch length of 50-pound, hollow-core braided line (I favor the Gudebrod brand). Roughen with sandpaper 8 inches of the butt section and insert it halfway into the braided line. Then roughen 8 inches of the clear front portion of the fly line and insert it into the other end so the two lines butt together. Use nail knots and 8-pound-test monofilament to trap each end. This forms a “Chinese finger trap” around both the mono and fly line, creating a connection that is actually stronger than the fly line. With a small tube of Loon Outdoors UV Boat Repair, make a tapered coating over the nail knots. When you hold the formed coating up to sunlight, it hardens quickly, and the connections will slither in and out of the rod guides with ease.