I’ll admit it, the last thing I want to do after a long day on the water is to take care of my equipment. As easy as it is to throw your gear in your trunk, truck bed, or Rubbermaid bin and forget about it, considering taking your equipment inside and giving it a few minutes of attention to extend its lifespan.
1. Fly Line Maintenance
One of the easiest ways to put your best effort forward is to be fishing with a fly line that is performing to its maximum potential. Regular maintenance of your fly line will not only add to its life but will also enhance the shooting ability and flotation (where applicable) of your line. 10 minutes of time after every few outings will help make precise, powerful casts, and delicate mends a reality. Most fly fishing manufacturers such as Scientific Anglers, Rio, Orvis, and Loon all have their own versions of fly line dressing for floating lines.
If you find yourself in a tight spot with a filthy line, soak your line in warm soapy water. After a thorough soaking run the line through a paper towel until dirt no longer wears off. This will provide a similar cleaning result as the products below but will not give you the added benefits of a freshly dressed line that performs like new.
Scientific Anglers offers its Fly Line Cleaner which includes a mildly abrasive fly line cleaning pad and line dressing. Run your line through the abrasive pads until the dirt is no longer wearing off on the pad following a thorough soapy water soak. Next, applying the line dressing for several minutes before use will have your line sliding through your guides with ease. If you find yourself in a pinch, applying this product streamside will allow you to maximize your line’s floating ability without the water soak. Fly line dressings are an easy way to help ensure a successful day on the water.
The first and easiest way to keep your fly reel in working order is to keep it from getting dirty in the first place. Pay attention to where you are placing your rod the next time you land a fish and consider throwing it aside (trophies excluded!). Sand, dirt, salt, and a variety of contaminants in the water can wreak havoc on your reel. By placing your trusty rod in the hands of a friend or on a grassy bank for your hero shots, you can eliminate a majority of the dirt build-up that commonly occurs on reels. While most high-quality reel manufacturers have warranty and service departments, help keep your reel on hand and at the ready with a few minutes of regular maintenance.
The easiest way to maintain your reel is a thorough rinsing with fresh water and soap if necessary. This simple rinse will help dislodge any dirt, grime, or salt build-up that may exist in your reel. This rinse is particularly important if you have been fishing in saltwater. Saltwater will immediately begin to work away at your reel eventually causing corrosion and part failure. Even with modern sealed drag systems, contaminants can make their way into the inner workings of your reel.
Keep in mind that soaking your entire reel for extended periods of time can cause damage to cork drag systems. A quick and thorough freshwater rinse should do the trick in-between your outings. After any reel cleaning or maintenance, be sure to let your reel, backing, and fly line completely dry. The next step that you can take to maintain your reels is to apply grease or oil to your drag components (more on that HERE). Backing the drag off is the last and final step you should always take before storing it away for your next adventure.
3. Wader Maintenance
Waders are a piece of equipment that if properly chosen, will be an extension of your body on the water. Maintaining the suppleness and waterproofing of your waders is simple and can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. Upon your return from your favorite honey hole, consider using a hose to rinse off your waders and remove any surface dirt build-up. A freshwater rinse is particularly important if you were fishing in saltwater. In addition to regularly hosing or rinsing your waders, Simms recommends, at a minimum, that you wash your waders annually. If you are fortunate enough to get out on the water on a regular basis, consider washing them every few months.
Powdered laundry detergent and hand-washing your waders in warm water is the recommended method. Avoid products that contain fabric softener or bleach. After soaking, scrub your waders with a soft brush to scrub the dirt, sweat, and grime away inside and out. This will have them feeling and looking great!
Once your waders have received a thorough cleaning, hang them to dry completely before storing. While complete drying in between uses may not be possible, do your best to help prevent mildew from forming. Mildew can work its way under seam tape rendering your waders useless. Hanging your waders on a hanger or completely stretched out to dry is recommended and the same goes for long term storage. Hanging your waders from the elastic suspenders is discouraged as they will stretch out over time. If possible, refrain from packing your waders away in a bag or box.
Once your waders are completely dry, you can apply a variety of aftermarket products to revamp the water repellency. Products similar to NikWax TX. Direct are a great choice. If you are unfortunate enough to have a hole in your waders, there are a variety of patches and sealant solutions on the market. Many of them can be applied with relative ease such as Aquaseal (more on this topic in a later post). Washing your waders will not only help to extend the lifespan but will also help keep the fabric as breathable as possible.
Click HERE more detailed information on wader maintenance from Simms.
Keeping your rod free from signs of wear, dirt, scratches, and knicks is a constant battle.
Unfortunately, all of those signs of wear eventually tend to happen. To keep your rod looking it’s best, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and warm soapy water to gently scrub away any build-up. This should do the trick on your rod, guides, and grip. If you favor cork looking like new versus carrying a fine patina, a light sanding with ultra fine-grit sandpaper should get the job done.
Beyond appearances, regularly applying ferrule wax (available from Loon, Orvis, and many other manufacturers) to the male ferrules will help eliminate twisting guides and the dreaded broken rod. To apply ferrule wax, break your rod into as many pieces as it will go. Apply the wax to the male end of each section with your finger or a cloth. Doing so will prevent your rod from slowly separating and twisting throughout the day as you cast.
Breaking the hollow female end of the adjoining section can occur as your ferrules begin to separate. When ferrules are nearly separated, the pressure applied through a cast or fighting a fish is concentrated on the tip and can cause it to crack or blow out.Not only will this ruin your day on the water, but your rod too. This process takes only seconds for each section of your rod and would be a foolish step to skip! Ferrule wax is designed for use on both single-handed and two-handed rods. Even if you don’t do any other gear maintenance, consider using ferrule wax to protect your rod.
Last but not least is boot maintenance. Cleaning your boots will help extend their life and also help protect the waters you love. Cleaning your boots streamside is ideal. This helps to prevent invasive species such as the New Zealand Mudsnail from ever leaving their current habitat. Preventing the spread of invasive species is far easier than eradicating the species in new watersheds.
While cleaning your boots streamside may not always be possible, you can take additional steps at home. Cleaning and sanitizing your boots is a simple process and can most easily be done by soaking your boots with warm (140 degrees Fahrenheit) soapy water for at least 3 minutes. Once you have soaked your boots, scrub them with a stiff scrub brush. This is particularly important if you wear felt bottomed boots as they tend to harbor invasive species. This process will help extend the life of your boots and protect our waters for generations to come.
More information on preventing the spread of invasive species can be found HERE.
Hopefully, you’ll take my advice and practice some of the tips above. They will help to extend the life of your gear so you can save up for that next big trip chasing bones and permit.
Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords and can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod check out his adventures at @evangarda.
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