Cleaning Fly Lines

By Dick Michaelson

According to Scientific Anglers there are a number of reasons fly-line should be cleaned. Exposure to heat (storage in a hot car), solvents found in insect repellents, sun screens, and some fly line floatants are just a few. Dirty water and casting practice in the back yard can really get your line dirty. Cleaning your line will reduce friction in the guides, reduce tangling and improve floatation. There are a number of products on the market to clean fly-line. Scientific Anglers and Glide are two that I use. Scientific Anglers has a specially designed cleaning pad. Pulling the line through this slightly abrasive pad cleans the fly-line. Then apply Scientific Anglerís fly-line dressing. You can buy the fly-line dressing and the pad separately or as a kit. You can apply the dressing to wet fly-line while you are fishing. I carry a small bottle in my fly-fishing bag. LL Bean recommended using Umpqua cleaner/dresser box. Another fly fishers recommended "Wilson Creek Greased Lightening", it comes with a cleaning pad and he says it works great. If you clean your line often your line will have a dry slick finish (this is good). 

There are other methods to clean fly-line. Wash your line with warm soapy water and apply a fly-line dressing you buy at the fly shop. Here are some methods they wonít tell you about in the fly shops. Wash the line with warm soapy water. Wipe the line with a cloth or sponge dampened with ArmorAll. Then wipe the line with a dry cloth and then reapply the ArmorAll. When you pull the line through the dry cloth apply a slight pressure. If you havenít cleaned your line for a while you will not believe the dirt on the dry cloth. The ArmorAll method came from a fly fisher who lives on Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia. He has used this method for three years with good results. Another fly fisher told me he cleans his line with vinegar and then uses ArmorAll. Another product used by one of our club members is 303 Protectant. He uses this instead of the ArmorAll. He says it stay on longer then ArmorAll. This one is from a fishing guide in the Florida Keys. He washes his line in warm soapy water and then he applies silicon. He uses the silicon the dive shops use to lubricate the O-ring on scuba diving equipment. He applies the silicon to the line and leaves it overnight to dry and then reels it back onto the reel. 

After casting a dirty line, then cleaning and applying one of these conditioners you will not believe the difference in your fly line performance. As you can see there are a lot of ways to clean your fly line. These are only a few that I researched. The important thing is to keep your line clean. 

Remember: Catch and Release

You can write Dick Michaelson at michaelson1@mediaone.net

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