How to look after your fly fishing lines

We all love to tidy up fly boxes and perhaps add a new rod to the armoury, but how much attention do you pay to your fly fishing lines?

Lines stored during the close season tend to have memory. Modern lines are less prone to this problem but even so, it’s wise to give the line a good stretch prior to fishing. A simple way of gaining the best from your line and decreasing memory is to connect it to as much backing as possible. Large arbor reels have been a revelation and will further assist the reduction of memory. Use the following tips for greater casting efficiency and bite detection.

A straight line is one thing; a clean line is another. The most important piece of maintenance you can perform regularly throughout the year is to keep that fly line well polished. There are several cleaners on the market for little money, which help remove surface grime.

Treating floating lines: First pull from the spool and lay out in nice, open coils so that the line does not tangle when re-spooling. Ensure that the line falls on to a clean surface so that it does not pick up unwanted carpet fibres etc. Add a drop or two of the chosen cleaning product to a rag or cleaning pad if provided and then pull the line through.

It is advisable to do this a couple of times to ensure a really good coating of the product and to remove as much dirt as possible. This process will greatly assist the line’s efficiency through the rings when casting. In fact, I even carry a pot of line slick with me when fishing, so if I feel the line is slowing down I can add a bit of ‘zing’!

Don’t use such cleaners on sinking lines, especially intermediates, as this can add buoyancy to the line. Instead use a very mild solution of detergent and wash the line carefully, again cleaning as much muck from the surface as possible using a rag. I carry a piece of cotton cloth so that if I am fishing on a particularly muddy bank, the line can be quickly spruced up with the assistance of a little water.

The best way to look after a line is while actually fishing with it. Make sure you don’t ‘hook’ your cast, which adds twists into your line. Ensuring a straight-line rod stroke helps eliminate this problem. When retrieving on a muddy bank, try using a line tray. I often use a landing net as a makeshift tray so preserving my line while being prepared for a hooked fish. If you don’t like line trays, try not to tread on the line!

Finally, boat anglers using an extendable thwart board style seat should look out for the line becoming pinched in the sliding mechanism of the seat, a problem that will cause a huge amount of damage and possibly render an expensive line useless! Cover the join with some electrical tape so that the line does not become trapped. Look after your fly lines and they will look after you.

JARGON

Memory - unwanted coils/kinks within a fly line

Hook cast - This is not a good technique! Rotating the wrist during a cast will cause a problem known as 'hooking' which can lead to a twisted fly line 

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