Cutthroat Chronicles: Why Bother Cleaning Fly Line?

Fly line is arguably the most important piece of gear in your entire rig. The differences between weight-forward and double-taper lines are important to understand, as are the differences between the countless weight-forward tapers. Using something like the Orvis Hydros HD Power Taper while fishing smaller dries on a 4wt Winston AIR will create issues with your presentation. Such an aggressive taper like the Orvis line mentioned above isn’t what you want to use when you need soft presentations. Conversely, you wouldn’t use SA Mastery Trout on a 6wt Redington Vice while fishing streamers.

fly fishing line

Since your line plays such a big role in your fly fishing, you should take care of it just as much – if not more than – your rod and reel.

Let’s look at a few reasons why.

Extends line life

You don’t want to leave dirt inside your reel, or on your rod. Cleaning those regularly is something most anglers do. However, the same holds true for your fly line. You want to make sure it’s free of dirt and grime, as any excessive buildup can eat away at the PVC coating. A cracked fly line does one thing we generally don’t want it doing – it sinks.

Cleaning your line will keep the cracking at bay and extend the life of your life. Seeing as most lines aren’t cheap (the SA Amplitude line is $130, but well worth the price) you want to protect that investment just like you do that of your rod and reel.

Better performance

A line that’s not cracked will perform better on the water. It’s hard to keep a great drift with small dries when your line sinks and starts to drag your leader with it.

The same holds true for lines with aggressive forward tapers and integrated shooting heads. Those tapers are designed to handle big hits from trout, bass, muskie, pike, and other voracious fish. Line that’s cracked can quickly snap in the jaws of a big fish. Trust me – I lost a monster rainbow trout a few years ago for that exact reason.

boxes of fly fishing line

Keeps your rod and reel in better shape

You’ll never keep all the dirt and sand out of your reel, if only because you can’t stop that debris coming into the reel on your fly line. The dirt on your line transfers to your reel, and your rod as well. I’d be willing to bet that if most anglers checked the guides on their go-to rod right now, they’d find a buildup of dirt and grime on the inside – even if the rest of the rod’s been cleaned recently.

It might seem like something only those guys who wear tweed and still fish silk fly line should do, but the reality is that you need to keep your line as clean as possible. And I know it’s tedious – I’m as bad as the next guy at cleaning my lines. But when I do clean my lines, I see the benefits I mentioned above. I’m not blowing smoke here – cleaning your line works and it’s definitely worth the bother.

Spencer is an outdoors writer, novelist, and sports writer from Utah. Connect with him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant.