Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fly Line Maintenance

It's been a couple years since I replaced some of the lines on the reels that we use on the drifter. So, I put in a call and a couple days later a care package arrived. All the lines did not need to be replaced, there were a few just needed to be cleaned. I searched the Internet to see what the manufacturers had to say about cleaning the old lines.

The manufacturers have a lot of tips for fly line cleaning and maintenance. Some are pretty basic and common sense and some have additional products to help with cleaning as well as increase performance. Below is just some of the information available from several major players in the fly line business.

To clean your Airflo line, mix a small amount of household detergent with warm (not boiling) water in a bowl or sink.
Strip the line from your reel into the water and allow to the line to soak for 2-3 minutes - this will loosen any dirt and clean any algae build-up from the surface.
Then dry off the line by winding the line back onto the reel through a clean dry cloth.
Do not put too much pressure on the line, as the heat generated in the cloth can distort a flyline, also, if you put the line onto the reel under too much tension then this will cause reel set or memory.

At Cortland, we build our fly lines to provide you with many hours of trouble free use, but it is your responsibility to extend the life of the fly line, and maintain proper performance through routine care. Avoid excessive heat exposure to the lines by keeping your reels out of direct sunlight. Avoid car dashboards or rear window ledges when transporting. Clean and dry fly line and backing before storing. Also, use Cortland XL Cleaner before and after each outing to ensure maximum performance and longer lasting lines.

Clean your lines frequently. The process typically takes less than five minutes. Orvis recommends Orvis Zip Juice Wonderline Cleaner, made specifically for the super slick coating on Wonderline Advantage lines. If Zip Juice is not available, use mild soap and water. Clean more frequently if you fish ‘dirty’ water - stillwater or moving water with lots of organic material.

Scientific Anglers
Cleaning with soap and water on a cloth removes most of the dirt, but our new cleaning pads work even better. Properly cleaned your lines will float better, cast better and last longer, certainly a good trade-off for a couple minutes of line maintenance. Dressing with our new line dressing will further improve flotation, casting and durability also.
Clean and dress your lines every 2-3 outings, or anytime you think dirt is hindering their performance. The cleaning pads are easy to carry in your vest or tackle bag and can be used anytime, wet or dry.

Most RIO fly lines are self lubricating. However, cleaning is an important aspect of fly line longevity, and we recommend cleaning every day. In freshwater, microscopic particles of algae will collect dirt and debris. These adhere to the surface of a floating fly line, adding weight which eventually overcomes the line’s natural buoyancy. This microscopic dirt will also help grind ridges into line guides and destroy fly line coatings. In saltwater fly fishing, salt will dry on the line. When you notice your line not shooting as well, or the tip of a floating line beginning to sink, it is overdue for a good cleaning. A few drops of a mild soap without detergent or even a small bar of soap and a rag is sufficient for cleaning a fly line. Once it’s cleaned, apply a super thin coating of RIO Poo Goo™ or another brand of 100% silicon on a cloth and pull the line through the cloth. This coating needs to be a thin film to prevent pickup of dirt. The silicone grease will help float the line and aid in shooting.

Care for your MONIC fly lines is critical for peak performance. Once fly lines pick up dirt they do not float and cast to their full potential. Clean lines with a mild detergent and redress with your favorite dressing. Line dressing and cleaners do not affect our polymer coatings. It is to your advantage to consistently clean your fly lines.


  1. Great info here. I found your blog on OBN. I like it and will follow along.

    the Average Joe Fisherman

  2. Thanks Ryan! I appreciate the compliment and glad to hear folks can use some of the info.