Taking care of those expensive fly lines that you did or did not get to use this year!
All of us in the fly fishing world know that the cost for us to “do our business” is pretty high. Just getting to where you can fly fish can cost a bunch of cash, everything down to nippers and fly line cleaner can eat into the budget. One of the costliest items in fly fishing are the fly lines and most anglers don’t spend near enough time making them last. You have to keep in mind that the fly lines of today have come to us through the culmination of massive amounts of R&D throughout the years. It’s not cheap or easy to build the equipment necessary to make them, it’s a very specialized product and the market is not really as big as the fly line manufacturers wish it was. Therefore, when you buy those really spendy fly lines the best thing you can do is take care of them so you don’t senselessly have to buy new ones each season! If you’re lucky enough to spend the summer yarding salmon out of a river somewhere you may have to buy new lines each season, and good for you, but for the rest of us, we should learn how to care for our fly lines.
One of the easiest things to do to a fly line to keep it in top notch shape is wipe it down after each use if at all possible. To help clean the line either hit up your local fly shop for a good fly line cleaning kit or you can use some mild eco friendly liquid soap and a wet towel. You don’t always have to wait until you get home to clean the line, it can be done easily on the river or a lake as well, just strip the line out in the water in a clear/clean area with no obstructions. If at home strip the line off in a yard or somewhere fairly clean, and if you have dogs or children I would suggest doing it when they are not looking! After the line is stripped off, take your wet towel lightly soaped or your cleaning kit towel and pinch the fly line, then reel the line back on while holding the line within the towel as to clean off any dirt or grime you may have come across while fishing.
Another great thing to do with your fly lines is to take them off the reel if it’s going to be more than a month or so until you use it again. These days that is actually pretty easy and fast to do, since many manufacturers have added welded loops to the rear of the fly line. Loop it in, loop it out. If the line is “coily” after taking it off the reel we would recommend either lightly hanging large loops along a fence or in an area where you can let the line sit and relax while fully laid out straight. Once it has relaxed, clean the line, then form large enough loops to barely fit in a gallon Ziploc bag. To secure the loops while they are in the Ziploc you can use a couple pipe cleaners wrapped around the coils to keep them tidy. I would recommend marking each bag with the line type. Almost all lines are marked these days, but unless you have perfect eyesight it’s much more convenient to label the bag now for future ease of ID. I would also recommend doing something similar to your sink tips if you go for more than a few months without using them.
Storage should always be in a cool dry place out of direct light to give longevity to the line coatings, which is a huge part of why the lines today are so much nicer and smoother to cast. If you have a line in storage for more than a year or so the best thing you could do is go out and use it, but if you can’t you should at least take it out and give it a good cleaning and refreshing before bagging it up again.
We could probably delve deeper into this line maintenance issue, but for now we’ll throw it back to our viewing public for some feedback. If anyone in the ether has any input on this subject we would love to hear it. Clean and Tight lines to all!