When Should You Clean Your Fly Line?

Summer is officially over and the snow is already flying here in Vail. And while some area anglers are still taking advantage of some great fishing, your line could probably use a much-needed care and cleaning after a long season of fishing. Whether you plan on continuing to fish through the winter, or if you won’t pick up your fly rod until spring, your fly line will perform better if you take some time to clean it.

If you’re in need of fly line cleaner, check out our selection online, or stop by our store!

When and Why Should You Clean Your Fly Line?

Most fly lines, if properly maintained, will last at least one season of more than 100 days on the water, while other anglers who only fish a couple weeks a year should get a few seasons out of a quality fly line.Regardless, sun, dirt, abrasions, and general abuse can cause fly lines to cast poorly and lose their high-floating qualities.

During a busy season of guiding, I try to give my frequently used fly lines at least a cursory cleaning around once a week. When I do so, I notice a definite improvement in their performance. In order to preserve the performance of your rods and fly lines, I highly recommend against transporting rods on the outside of a vehicle, in a boat or exposed rod holder. Regardless, fishing in muddy water or dropping your reel into mud or sand demands more immediate and thorough line cleaning.

Quality fly lines that shoot well and float like a cork are expensive, so cleaning them should be viewed as protecting your investment–and investing in more landed fish. It only takes a few minutes, and can be done while watching the game or waiting for the hatch to start.

How to Clean Your Fly Line

There are many commercial fly line cleaners, patches, and kits out there. Buy one; while they are not expensive, your fly lines are. The paste or gel will last for many cleaning sessions, and patches gently remove stubborn mud and debris from the fly line.

The first step in cleaning your line is to strip out at least the first forty or so feet of fly line off of the reel. Go a little longer if you’re making long casts more frequently. Squirt a little cleaner onto the patch and run the fly line through the patch. You’ll see how much dirt you are taking off of a line that appears to be clean. Repeat this process at least one more time. Clean the entire length of the fly line a few times a year, or before storing for a long time.

Don’t have a “professional fly line cleaning kit”? No worries! Grab some paper towels, dish soap, and some dry fly floatant.Wet down your paper towels with some warm water, then apply some dish soap, and follow the process above. Finish up by applying a fine coating of dry fly floatant to the fly line. Most commercial cleaners clean and treat the line to float better, but dry floatant also seems to lube up a fly line so it shoots better.

If you avoid cleaning your fly line for extended periods of time, it will show. You will begin to notice a dirty film building up that is impossible to remove. This will negatively affect your performance. Once you start to see fine cracks in your fly line it is time to toss it and buy a new one. The line will stop floating and casting and floating performance is now nil. Regularly cleaning your line will keep this from happening.

Need Fly Line Cleaners? Vail Valley Anglers Has You Covered

Vail Valley Anglers has everything you need to keep your fly line clean and in top shape. If you are due for a new fly line, stop in to the shop, or check out our website.

Brody Henderson, Senior Guide and Web Content Writer