Given a little basic care a fly line should last for many seasons. This quite obviously depends on how heavily it is used, but the life of any fly line can be prolonged by observing a few points.
Fly lines get damaged in various ways, but the most frequent damage is caused by mechanical wear: ripping the line through the rod rings (especially worn rod rings), getting trampled on with studded wading boots, dragging the line over sharp rocks or through sand and mud, getting it tangled up in bank-side vegetation and ripping it free etc. Then there is UV radiation, excessive heat or cold and certain chemicals such as the solvents and propellants used in insect repellent creams and sprays.
Storing wet lines on the reel for long periods may cause a build up of mildew or other fungus which can quickly destroy your line.
With WF profile lines avoid false casting on the fine running line as this will stress it and cause the coating to crack.
Avoiding the above is obvious enough, but it’s also worth periodically removing any build up of dirt and algae that will inevitably accumulate on the coating of your line. This is especially important if you have been salt water fly fishing.
Cleaning is best done by passing the line through a soft cloth dampened in warm water. Avoid using detergents as they may damage your line. If you must use a cleaning agent a natural soft soap is less likely to cause damage. The line should be dried then treated with a good quality lubricant such Snowbee Line Slick. It is remarkable the difference this will make to the feel and shooting properties of your fly line.
Never use a lubricant on sinking or intermediate lines as this may cause them to float!
Curing Sinking Tips On Floating Lines
A very common complaint with floating fly lines is the tendency for the tips to sink on some of them. This varies from line to line (even within the same make and model of line) and is usually worse on fine tipped, light weight lines in fast water. It is sometimes thought this is caused by water ingress at the tip of line. While this may have an effect, the real cause appears to be the thickness (or if you prefer thinness) of the buoyant line coating in relation to the line core thickness. There is a compromise here between a thicker, more buoyant coating and a thinner line tip capable of gently presenting a fly.
Another factor, sometimes overlooked, is the tapered leader, especially those with a thick butt, sinking and dragging the tip of the line under. This happens even with so-called ‘floating leaders’.
The problem of sinking tips can be alleviated to some degree by always greasing at least ½ the leader from the butt forwards using a proprietary solid floatant such as Mucilin. While doing this it will do no harm at all also applying some floatant to a foot or so of the line tip. All experienced river fly fishers I know do this. Preparation is everything.
Intermediate and Sinking Fly Lines
The number one thing to remember with intermediate lines (and all sinking lines for that matter) is NEVER treat them with line lubricants, line slick type products etc. If you do they will float!.
Sometimes brand new intermediate lines and sinking, just put onto the reel, seem reluctant to sink, especially on a flat calm still water surface. This is usually due to a minute greasy contamination, even your hands can cause this. This problem will rectify itself quite quickly when the line has been used for a short while. If this happens to you, you can help the line along by rubbing on some line sink compound such as one of the Fullers earth and detergent based commercial products, or by simply lightly rubbing the first 15 feet or so of line with bank side mud! Be gentle and take care not to damage the line coating.
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