Consider that the fly line is of extreme importance to any fly rod setup. Like the strings of a guitar, no song (fish) will be produced without them. If the guitar strings are not cared for – they start to sound flat and are not easy to tune. To extend this metaphor – fly lines uncared for become stiff or casts will be off. Strings on a guitar which are cleaned extend the acoustic resonance of what is played, a fly line which is kept clean and maintained will cast farther, float better and tangle less often.
Just like guitar strings, a fly line can accumulate bunches of crapola, dirt and grime and should be cleaned regularly (if on a trip) before and after fishing. Many modern fly lines are slightly porous and contain a form of lube within the line which is released to remain smooth and somewhat slick. If dirt and other undesirables get stuck in these pores, the line’s performance can be direly effected: casts are off or short and flotation is not as expected. Warm water and hand soap has been the traditional panacea for line maintenance and condition the line with a proper dressing. At the Trout Spot, we recommend Loon Outdoors Line Speed which gives the line the zest and zeal of a dynamic and respondent line we desire.
Be careful in stripping line off the reel. Just as a guitarist may cut or change strings on the guitar, there are areas to avoid contact with. You don’t want scratches on your new Martin 28 do you? Don’t strip line out across the reel’s post. If pulled straight down towards the ground, take notice, the line scrapes against the post putting wear and tear on the line. Instead, pull in the direction of your rod. Old-timers will do this and increase the life span of the line exponentially.
There is nothing like the sun to age anything! Extending the metaphor, if a guitar is left out in the sun, not only are the strings thrown out of whack, but the neck may bow, or serious damage can be done to the wood. In kind, U.V. Rays can break down the polymers used in most modern fly lines – resulting in limp lines which are not as flexible and lacking performance dynamics.
This should be a no-brainer, but we will make it obvious for the sake of “duh, wasn’t thinking.” Avoid sunscreen, morning bacon grease, as well as DEET from touching the line from your hands. Sunscreen if inadvertently transposed to the line will affect the polymers reducing the lifespan, DEET has corrosive properties that can strip the paint off your car (just imagine the effects on your line) and bacon grease will, not only clog up the pores of the line, but jettison your fly to erratic targets such as over the branch of a riverside oak.
Also remember the memory phenomenon. Just like those Lithium batteries to tools and how your hose as well as electrical cord extensions work, your line if kept on the reel will have a memory. So it is good practice, before a day of fishing, to stretch your line. This tactic will usually improve performance of the line. Although, if the line is to be stored, some manufacturers advise not to stretch. This is because, in storage, the lines may contract and tighten, causing damage by constriction.
Extending the guitar metaphor – stowing the guitar with the strings in tune causes pressure (over time) on the neck and may result in high action because of the neck bowing. If you are to store your line during the off-season – store the line in wide-loops depending on the size of the reel. If the spool of the reel is large enough, this is not necessary, yet for small arbor reels, the tactic of storing in wide loops eliminates that sense of memory which is not desirable. Or similar to guitar strings, lower the tension, take off & discard – put in storage without and restring (re-line) at the desirable time of rehearsal or performance.