Flylines Can Add a Few Extra Years of Useful Life
3 Steps to Fresh Lines
It pays to
clean your flyline after every 3-5 usages or when you've fished particularly
muddy, dirty, weedy or mossy water. I just had to retire a flyline I
purchased in 1997 and have used consistently for much of my flyfishing
over the years. I estimate the line has seen over 150 outings. But I
wouldn't have had such good luck with the line had I not taken care
How To Tell
if a Flyine Requires Cleaning
It's not too difficult to tell if your line needs cleaning, look for
- You feel micro-grit
on the line as you strip it in
- For floating
line, the first 10 feet or few meters of line doesn't float any longer
- The line retains
- The line has
- The line feels
If the latter two
observations above are noticed, the bad news is that the line is on
its last legs of life. The good news is a cleaning and re-invigoration
of the line may add another season of use before you have to replace
Cleaning a Fly
Materials are simple and your workspace can be as simple as the kitchen
The materials are
- Mild dish soap
- Clean rag
- Flyline dressing
(discussion on this topic below)
- Line winder
Cleaning a flyline only takes about 1/2 hour of your time. It's time well
invested in preparation for your next few flyfishing trips.
STEP 1 - Soaking
- Draw about a
gallon or a few liters of hot water in a sink
- Add just a few
drops of mild dish soap. Don't overdo it! All you need is enough to
make a few bubbles and help loosen debris. Too much soap will leave
a film on the flyline which may help it sink. (not good for floating
- Strip out all
the flyline IN LOOSE coils in the sink, ensuring each coil lies on
top of the previous. This will help prevent the line from knotting
up as it is cleaned in the next step
- Allow the line
to soak until the water becomes luke-warm; about 15-30 minutes or
Stretching the line is an important step in cleaning it. Stretching the
line once-in-awhile helps maintain its suppleness and prevent line coil
STEP 2 - Cleaning
- Taking a clean,
moistened rag in one hand, draw the flyline from the sink through
- Apply mild pressure
with the hand holding the rag to ensure the line is being "stripped"
of all the debris and dirt
- You'll know
if you have enough pressure by hearing the line "sqweek"
through your hands
- LOOSELY coil
the line on the floor at your feet in preparation for dressing the
line with conditioner and allowing the line to dry for a few moments
- TIP: as you
draw line through the rag, stretch each arm's-length section as you
would a leader, to stratighten out the coils that have built up.
Loose coils of line prevent knotting and tangling.
STEP 3 - Dressing
- Using a line
winder, if you have one, makes applying line conditioner easier, but
is not necessary.
- Taking another
dedicated rag used for applying line conditioner, soak the rag with
- As the line
is wound on the winder, apply the line conditioner in the same manner
as the line is cleaned in the step above.
- Don't be afraid
to be generous with the line conditioner; it's the stuff that will
help protect the line in future uses.
Just like a good teeth flossing, flyline cleaning cleans up the dirt you
Dirt Be Gone!
One flyline can
hold a lot of dirt as shown on the rag I used to clean the flyline in
Many commercial products on the market are excellent choices for dressing
your flyline once it is cleaned.
Fly Line Dressings
manufacturers produce and sell flyline dressings. So, don't be afraid
to try any one of them. But I have found over the years a particular
product, not even designed for the flyfishing industry, works quite
well in cleaning and dressing flylines.
I like to use Rain-X
windshield dressing. It is safe for plastics, as it clearly says on
the bottle. Rain-X does a bang-up job of repelling water on windshields
for months on end, so why wouldn't it work on flylines!?
I have used Rain-X
since 1996. Never had I had a flyline become brittle or "melt-away"
as some flyfishers may warn you of. I'm a believer in its use.
There may be other
products on the market that work just as well. Just one word of caution:
be sure the product is safe for plastics. If it doesn't say that, don't
even venture in trying it on flylines. Products that are silicon-based
are your best bet. Silicon is flyline-friendly. Flylines
are delicate, expensive strips of plastics and polymers that won't tolerate
chemicals which can break down the coating, be careful in choosing alternate
line dressings not intended for flylines.