Fly Gear Maintenance

Posted on October 05, 1999 at 23:30:37:

Routine Fly Gear Maintenance
Gary D. Scavette

Caring for your fly gear is something that is often overlooked but ever so important. Rods reels and lines do require maintenance periodically. For many of us our fly gear is a substantial investment and something that we hope will last many seasons. Here are a few guidelines for maintaining your equipment.


The modern flyrod requires little maintenance but there are a few things that you should remember if you want to keep it around for a long time. The ferrules of your rod should be periodically lubricated with parrafin wax(candle wax). This can simply be rubbed on the area where the ferrules are in contact. This layer of wax prevents premature wear of the ferrules and also reduces the harmful effects of sand and grit on the ferrules. I lubricate the ferrules at least 4 times a year. Fly rods should never be put away wet or damp. Moisture on the cork handle can cause the handle to rot. It is a good idea to have a case that is vented or leave the rod case's lid off or loose when storing. This will allow moisture to escape. If the reel seat on your rod is made of wood check its finish for cracks or wear. Apply varnish if necessary.


Take care of your flyreel the same way you would a fine doublegun. Lubrication is important. Moving parts that are not associated with the reel's drag should have a coating of lithium grease. This heavy grease will not simply wash off when the reel gets wet. It is a good idea to periodically disassemble the reel and wash dry and oil all parts. If you are storing the reel for a long time back off the drag or decrease the tension in the springs.


Flylines require the most maintenance. I used to consider them expendable and would replace them once or even twice a season when they began to misbehave. At around 50 dollars a line this could become very expensive. If you take care of a flyline it will last! Most of today's flylines are composed of PVC(polyvinylchloride) that surrounds a core material of mono or dacron. Floating lines may float due to their low density ,a coating, or combination of both. If the line becomes dirty or cracked it breaks the water's surface tension and sinks. The best way to keep the line floating is to keep it clean! This means a periodic washing in a tub of warm soapy water will work wonders. Be sure to rinse it well to get the soap off. Many advocate applying silicon, Armor All, or some other coating to the flyline to revitalize it. Beware! In some cases these coatings will pick up dirt and cause the line to sink. Flyline factory applied coatings may be chemically delicate. Be careful of adding coatings. Try giving it a good washing first you'd be amazed! Never step on a flyline or allow insect repellent to contact its surface.

If storing a flyline be sure that it is stored in a dark area. Sunlight may cause coatings to decompose. Also avoid extremes of heat and cold which can contribute to cracking. I like to store my lines in large coils as opposed to on a fly reel. This reduces line memory.


Monofilament leaders are decomposed by sunlight. Store them in a dark place and occasionally check them for roughness due to abrasion. They are expendable. Replace them as needed.


Putting a fly in its box before it dries is what most commonly creates problems such as rust or matted down hackle. While there is not much that can be done if a hook is badly rusted a fly can be revitalized if its hackle is matted down. Get a pot of water boiling and hold the fly (using hemostats) directly in the hot steam. Almost like magic you will see the hackle take on its original orientation. Allow the fly to thoroughly dry and put it back in its box. You can use this method to remedy any fly that has been deformed due to storage. Give it a try.

When storing flys I am always concerned about moths. Because I cannot tolerate the odor of mothballs I store my flys in a box made of red cedar. This seems to work well and I have not had any problems.

The Fall offers some of the finest fishing of the year. Is your gear ready for it? After a hard Spring and Summer of use maybe its time to wash the line, lube the ferrules, revitalize the flys, and go at em again!

Return To Northeast Anglers' Articles and Stories

Post-It © 1997, All Rights Reserved.
DBasics Software Company P.O. Box 6034, Alliance, OH. 44601