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  1. #1

    Default How long does a fly line last?

    So I have this unused fly line, still in the original package, about 15 years old. I contacted Orvis to see if I could find out some technical information (that wasn't on the box) and they told me that given the age of the line, it was probably no longer usable. I thought that was interesting. It looks fine to me, it feels like every other line, it doesn't have any cracks or anything like that, so I wondered, what makes a line "go bad," particularly an unused one?

    In addition, since most of us don't buy line and let it sit unused for 15 years, when do you decide to get rid of a line and buy a new one? Is it just cracks and other physical damage, or do you start to notice some problems with casting or whatever?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    I would use the fly line. It will have a limited lifespan compared to to when it was new but you will get some use out of it. Get rid of it when it starts to form wear cracks and sinks. You will see them a dark rings forming on the the fly line. That is dirt that has gotten into the cracks that form when a fly line loses plasticity. Fly lines have liquid plasticisers that leach out of the line gradually and lubricate the surface of the line. That leaching is why the life of a fly line is limited. You can get a bit of extra life by treating the line with a gel type fly line treatment like the Scientific Anglers brand once the cracks form.

    The fly line treatment will slow water seepage for a while. When the cracks reach the fly line core, water will seep in and the fly line will not float as well or it may even sink. Even then you can use it as a practice line for lawn casting or as a type 1 intermediate line to fish flies just under the surface for still waters. It will not be as good as a real intermediate line but it will save you money.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Marthasville Mo.
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    Being as it has been coiled up for 15 years it may have taken a permanent set. Like it has been suggested, try it out. Stretch it carefully to see if you can straighten it out and treat it. You have nothing to lose.


  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    quiet corner, ct

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    I had a "new in the box" line go bad. The plasticisers all leached out
    At first the line felt really greasy, then after some time in the water, that all washed off and the line became un-castable.

    On the other hand I've got an old no-name line that I bought in 1982 that's still good
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements. --- Horace Kephart

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  7. #5

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    If fly lines, like tippet, are stored out of the light, perhaps in a cabinet they can still be serviceable particulary if they were made in the last 20 to 25 years. I treat my lines once a season with 303 Protectorant it's a UV blocker/cleaner and does wonders to keep lines doing what we paid them to do a long time. My most recent 8wt was bought in 2005 and retired last week.

  8. Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    Believe it or not I have fly lines that are still usable from the early eighties. Must be because I keep them in a dark place.

  9. #7

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    My newest lines are about 5 years old. Many lines, especially heavier weights that I don't use in Wyoming, are much older. Some, including some sinking lines and some Cortland 444 SLs were bought in the 80s.

    Other lines from the 90s including some from Orvis, Wulff, Cortland and Scientific Anglers and all seem fine.

    I think these lines have aged better than I have.


  10. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Farmington, ill. -Stop by for a cold beer on your way thru
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    I took a 20 year break from fly fishing and all 6 of my lines were in great useable shape when I started back up and they were stored in less than optimal conditions



  11. #9

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    I mentioned some other brands because I know they are pretty old. But I have two Rio Gold lines (a 4 and 5 weight) that are old enough that they are a single color and came without any loops. They still cast and float just fine.

    I'm sure they are at least 10 years old, probably closer to 15 or more.


  12. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Hudson, Florida

    Default Re: How long does a fly line last?

    Never used line..... can't foresee any problems. Straightening and checking wouldn't hurt. I have used lines older & still working no cracks. Cleaning & dressing line extends life of line.
    Maybe Orvis line has short life span. But if your still using the line years from now. You might think the same of Orvis reps as me.

    ........ pc

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