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20 Feb 2011

Maintenance: fly-lines

Maintaining fly-lines... It's a chore, whichever way you look at it, or indeed do it. I carry and regularly use at least half a dozen fly-lines for sea-trout fishing, almost all #6-8 weights: they range from a 7-weight quickish sinker to WF8 full intermediates and DT7 and 8 floaters. My most used lines, for the record, are 8-weight intermediates and 7-weight floaters. I've recorded elsewhere that I quite like to use DT lines from the boat (they hang from the rod-tip less radically than front-loaded, WF lines), though DT intermediates are getting hard to find.

I've looked after my lines pretty thoroughly for years. Decades ago, fly-lines were stripped from reels and spent most of the winter wound round the back of a large armchair. These days, I hang them in large loops over pegs in the study. They are then cleaned - wet Pledge tissues are good - and treated with Permaplas, left for six hours, then cleaned again, stretched, and wound back onto the reel. Come the start of the season and they're given just a good stretch again before fishing.

I also renew line-to-backing knots, replacing the old join with an Albright knot (8-10 turns) which is then smeared with a very useful preparation called Knot Sense, which coats the knot. Knot Sense cures in sunlight, so my neighbours, were they to look at all, would periodically see a pair of arms waving outside the study window, offering what looks like a bit of string to the spring.

If all this sounds tarty and over-fussy, in my defence I will say that I'm still regularly using DT intermediates and floaters I bought 20 years ago, and there's barely a crack in them (a plum-coloured DT intermediate from Shakespeare, bought in 1993 or thereabouts, has been a much-used line, as has a Mill End floater from John Norris, c.1994: both brilliant lines and radically inexpensive). And if I'm strictly truthful, I quite like using old, cracked floaters - so long as they remain supple.

Of recent lines, I like Loop Opti stillwater lines and Hardy Marksman intermediates and 'Wet 2' sinkers. I don't like, and no longer use, wiry 'glass' intermediates. Suppleness, quietness and a delicate lay-down of the fly or flies are what I look for in sea-trout fly-lines, and I maintain the lines so that they stay supple, clean and functional - always.

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