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Top Tips for Fly Line maintenance

The fly line is the most important component of your fly fishing equipment. Period. You can have the smoothest rod, swankiest reel, and most technically perfected tapered leader on the market, but when paired with a wiry old cracked and stiff fly line your setup will be ruined. We are always slightly amazed that having spent some considerable monies on a week’s sport, quite a large number of individuals will still present themselves with the mangiest old bit of string this side of the runner bean patch. Most people fail to realise that their fly line has a finite lifespan, and that is considerably shortened without regular maintenance.


1) Strip the full fly line from the reel give it a good look over. If it is cracked, split, feels ropey, or dates from the Thatcher era, then it’s time for a replacement. For the price of another day ticket, you will transform your fishing experience.Without turning our feature into a sales pitch, the Arundell has a good selection of British made lines that are quite excellent and retail for £40. 

However, if your line is judged to be in reasonable repair, then the following will prepare it well for this next season. Start with a quick stretch will help relax the plastic coating around the line’s core, and then with the help of an assistant run the line out across the garden, stretching the line in opposite directions (up to 30%) until you meet a reasonable amount of resistance, then relax. Repeat a couple of times stretching and relaxing. This will remove the ‘memory’ of the line, which would otherwise wish to return to its former state of lots of small, tight coils. A lot of flexibility can be restored to your line with this short routine, and it will now lie straight on the water and ultimately assist with better presentation of the fly.

2) Cleaning the fly line. You can do this simply by soaking your line in warm water with as mall amount of washing up liquid, before pulling it through a clean cloth a couple of times. The other option is to buy an inexpensive line cleaning cloth. The amount of dirt removed from what appeared to be a clean line is usually significant. A good clean line will reduce the amount of friction generated as it passes through the rings resulting in much reduced casting effort. It will also be more buoyant and suffer less “drag” on the water. This may in turn sort out some of those casting problems you thought you had.

3) Loop where you attach the leader. If it is one of the modern welded plastic loops, make sure that it is still sound and free from splits. For the good old-fashioned needle-knotted heavy nylon, check that there is no crack forming behind the needle knot, if so then replace as necessary. Our suggestion is to replace the needle not in most cases, as the few mms that are needed to fix a new leader can prove invaluable, especially if you are sea-trout or salmon fishing. If you have some form of braided loop, then chop it off and replace with said aforementioned good old-fashioned needle-knotted loop. The loop in the nylon should be a perfection loop, this will align dead straight, some loop knots leave a pronounced kink. After witnessing the inadequacies of braided loops for years, at the Arundell we have something of a crusade running against them. They reduce accuracy, ruin presentation, and even when glued they can fail without warning – they are not to be trusted. If you would like to be shown how to perform a needle knot, please see our Youtube video which covers this and a few other useful fly fishing tips, as well as fly dressing.

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