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First published February 28th 2005 - More than 10 years ago
Tips For Rod, Reel And Line Care
Line care - a three part harmony about maintaining your precious fly fishing equipment
By Roland Henrion
Part 3 - line care
In part 1 and 2, I explained how to keep rods and reels in good shape and ensure many years of fly fishing enjoyment. Fly lines have a limited life span, but they are an essential piece of equipment in our sport, litterally connecting the angler to the fish. Long, accurate casts with fast, narrow loops are proof of a well chosen, balanced outfit mastered technique. It offers the angler tremendous joy and satisfaction, but in order to achieve this, our fly lines must be kept clean and slick at all times. Again, it takes less effort than you might think.
Fly lines get damaged in various ways, but the most important one is mechanical wear: ripping through the guide rings (especially the tip top), getting trampled on, dragging over coral, or through sand and mud, just to name a few. Then there is also UV radiation, excessive heat and certain chemicals (pollutants in rivers and lakes, suncream, oil, etc).
The leading fly line manufacturers build a lubricant inside the fly line coating. Because the coating is slightly porous, it slowly releases the lubricant, keeping the line slick and floating. Excessive dirt will clog the pores, preventing the lubricant from doing its job and that is why we should keep our lines clean as much as possible. Left on a small diameter spool (a fly reel for instance) for a long period, our fly line will remain coiled when it comes off the spool. This phenomenon is known as line memory. A pigtailed fly line hampers casting and affects fly delivery and striking.
Without proper care, a fly line will last only one season or less, but we can extend the life of fly lines to several years with a minimum of effort.
Backing tends to be forgotten and is left on the reel without another thought. Yet it should be frequently inspected for damaged or weak spots (coral head or oyster bank encounters). When drying up, salt crystals can cake backing together. Discover this when that long-hoped-for permit makes a run for the horizon and all you can do is hope and pray…
Some line tips:
Catching large fish is often a combination of luck, local knowledge, skill and perseverence. It is ONLY possible with fishing gear in perfect condition. How many specimen fish get away because of failing tackle? Can one honestly call it bad luck?
Once, a French angler lost a fine yellowfin tuna after battling the fish for more than one hour. We thought the tippet broke, but it appeared that he'd spit the fly. To my utter surprise, inspection of the fly revealed the 6/0 stainless steel hook had broken. I felt miserable for my client. After each day on the water, I always rinsed the flies we used and yet, the humidity trapped in the fly's feathers and bucktail fibers had caused the hook to rust unnoticed. That night, I checked all my flies and discarded almost the whole lot. Stainless steel hooks they said? Yeah, right. Today, all my off-shore flies are tube-flies…
So, you'd better keep a close eye on your stuff! It only takes a little effort, but you will save big bucks on tackle and lines. And when the big one strikes, you will be ready for him!