Looking after your fly lines

Most fly fishers fall into two categories – there are those who lovingly wash and care for their lines after every trip, pampering and treating the fly line better than some members of their family. Then at the other end of the spectrum you have those who never treat their line from the day they buy it until the day it is discarded. What should I do with my fly lines?

Cleaning & Treatment

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 fly line, also, if you put the line onto the reel under too much tension then this will cause reel set or memory.


Regardless of brands, all lines will exhibit line memory to some degree and our advice is to give your line a light stretch (about 2-3lbs pressure) after you first take it from the reel. There are a lot of people who think that stretching the line at home will help – this is a popular misconception and this will actually make the line worse as it will contract whilst on the reel and create even worse memory!

Certain lines have less memory than others and this can be down to a number of factors, including core type, core diameter, coating hardness and coating thickness. In our experience, lines manufactured on our low stretch Power Core have lower memory levels than standard line, they have a less springy feel and require very little stretching to remove any reel set.

Line Twist 

This is a totally different thing to line memory and will manifest itself in lines through a number of reasons – in particular roll casting, Belgian style casting and hand twist retrieves can all impart twist into a line. Lines will generally twist at their thinnest point – on a WF line, the running line will twist more than the head due to its thinner diameter and lower torsional strength.
This twist can drive a fly fisher mad as the running line tangles up on itself, however it can be easily removed – just cast our the line and retrieve the line until a loop of about 4′ of line hangs between the reel and the first ring – if the line is twisted, this loop will twist up on itself – at this stage just remove the reel from the reel seat and twist the whole reel in the opposite direction to the twists – this will untwist the line and allow the 4′ loop to hang down with out twist.

Now reel the untwisted line back onto your fishing reel and repeat this until you get to the belly section of the line – this usually doesn’t take up twist because of its larger diameter. Line twist is quite common on two hand lines and also on tropical lines – you know how much you roll the line around when you’re waiting for a shot!

Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

2 thoughts on “Looking after your fly lines

  1. Hi I have two Cortland Peach 444 lines WF7F which though lovely to fish with and subtle, both have memory and will not lie straight. Is there any thing I can now do to improve them, and yes I too have stretched them in the garden?
    Must I now dispense with them and buy new lines and if so do you have any recommendations I could purchase over to that give a similar feel to the Cortland 444 Peach and less partial to memory?
    Regards Keith

    • Hi Keith,

      There are a few things you could do but none guaranteed to work. Try stretching it, as you have. If this doesn’t work try regularly cleaning your lines after each days fishing.

      If you fish from a boat, you could try (taking your flies off) and trailing the whole line behind the boat with some backing outside the eyes. this will untwist the twist in the fly line and keep everything straight. As I said above, nothing is guaranteed to work and it could be time for a new fly line.

      My recommendation from use would be: http://www.fishtec.co.uk/buy.cfm/lines/airflo-ridge-supple-impact-fly-line/40/no/49372

      Cheers, Fishtec.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *