Today we are going to spend a few minutes talking about fly line care. Assuming that everyone did their proper fall maintenance, all we need to do is wind our line on our reel and go fishing. Oh, you didn’t do your fall maintenance? No problem, let’s do our spring (formerly referred to as fall) maintenance.
Several products that we routinely use when fishing are TERRIBLE for fly lines. sunscreen and bug dope are two such items. Whenever possible, apply these 2 items to the backs of your hands and then use the backs of your hands to apply them to other parts of your body. That way the parts of your hands that touch your line (and flies) will be free of these harmful chemicals (Thanks to a Lefty Kreh video for that little trick!)
Line care/maintenance is not just a once a year thing. If you fish a lot, you should be caring for your line throughout the fishing season. Take care of your line and it will take care of you! It is a good idea to clean and condition your line every 3 or 4 trips. You will be amazed at the crud that gets on your line from the water. It will lengthen the life of your line and decrease friction when casting which will also lengthen those casts!
Okay, now to you fly line care. Fly lines are a lot like people. When at work, they are tightly wound and they at times get dirty. So the first order of business to get your line ready for vacation is not to grab a beer and head to the recliner. However the fly line does need to unwind, clean up and relax, just like us. For the line that means getting the line off the reel get a good cleaning. There are a few ways to accomplish this. It is always a good idea to check with your line manufacturer for any specific cleaning/conditioning requirements. (There is a list of some line manufacturers at the bottom of this post)
Cleaning method 1 – Take a 5 gallon bucket filled with warm (not hot) water and some very mild soap. Strip the fly line off the reel into the bucket. You don’t need to detach it from the backing unless you want to. Let the line set for a few minutes in the warm water bath and then take a cloth and soak it in the water and pull the line through the cloth to clean it as you pull it from the soapy bucket into a bucket of clean water. Then pull it from the clean water through a dry soft cloth onto the grass (or soft surface, not your tarred driveway!).
Cleaning method 2 – Walk around your yard as you strip the line from the reel be careful not to step on it. After all the line is off the reel, use a soft cloth soaked in warm soapy water (mild soap) to clean the line by walking the length of the fly line pulling the line through the cloth. Follow that up with a wet cloth with no soap to rinse the line. Then pull it through a dry cloth to get the excess water from the line.
Cleaning method 3 – Use a commercial line cleaner. There are numerous choices on the market. Many are cleaners and conditioners in one step. Follow the instruction on the box.
After your line is cleaned, the next step is to condition it. ArmourAll is a product that many folks use. There are also, several quality line conditioners on the marked. Check your line manufacturer to see if there are products that they specifically recommend. After the conditioner is applied, your line need to be loosely coiled for storage. You can enlist a fishing buddy, your spouse or offspring (good luck with that) to assist with this process. Have them hold their hands 18′ apart and wrap the line around their hands. Then hang the loose coils in a safe place for it’s vacation.
When you are ready to go fishing, all you will need to do is wind your “happy” line back onto the reel and you are ready to go!
Tight lines, Don
Global Fly Fisher – Fly Line Maintenance
Cleaning your fly line
Rio Fly Lines
Scientific Anglers Lines
Cortland Fly Lines