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  1. #1

    Default Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    My floating fly lines--yes, plural--don't float all too well anymore. I don't know if this is just "normal" and my expectations are out of alignment with reality, or if I need to change my ways.

    When the lines start sinking my basic routine is to bring the fly reel into the kitchen, fill the kitchen sink with warm water, add a drop or two of dish soap and then:

    1. strip ~50' of fly line off the reel into the sink
    2. let it soak for 5-10 minutes
    3. take a "Scientific Anglers" fly line cleaning pad to the line, running the pad up and down the length of the line several (i.e. 3-4) times.
    4. soak for an additional 5-10 minutes
    5. repeat #3
    6. soak the line in clean water for 5-10 minutes.
    7. rinse the line under running water
    8. allow fly line to dry while hanging over a clothes hanger or equivalent for a few hours
    9. add a few drops of fly line dressing (Scientific Angler's version or lately in desparation the fly line manufacturer's version of same) to small piece of soft cloth and work the cloth up and down the length of the line once each direction
    10. lightly remove excess with dry, soft cloth
    11. hang line again, usually overnight
    12. re-wind line on fly reel

    If I do the above process the fly line will float for an hour or two on the next fishing outing and then gradually start sinking again. After a few days (3-4) it will be sinking so badly that the first ~10-15' of fly line will submerge 1-2 feet deep on the average drift. Luckily I'm nymphing right now as any dry fly would be dragged under the surface.

    If I "grease" the fly line with fly floatant the line will float, but only for perhaps an hour before it starts sinking again.

    I have 2 5wt lines that are my mainstays and they both behave this way. The older is ~20 months old, the younger is ~12-14 months old. These are pretty much good quality/name brand fly lines (i.e. "444" or equivalent), but different manufacturers, etc. Both behave the same.

    I fished 117 days in the past 12 months--in other words, my fly lines are in the water nearly every day in the spring/summer/fall, and ~2+ times a week during the winter. In between cleanings and fishing outings the fly lines spend their life wound on a fly reel, stored in a protective pouch, hiding within a tote bag in the cab of my truck. When I get really annoyed at one line sinking I swap spools and vow to try cleaning again. If I favor one line and keep the other high & dry for 1-1/2 - 2 weeks the "dry" one will show no difference versus one fished the yesterday or the day before.

    Is this just the reality of floating fly lines? Are my expectations of a high floating fly line simply not realistic? Or have I simply exceeded the normal expectations and useful life of a fly line? Am I abusing them in some way? Should my cleaning process be changed significantly? Something else I should try or do?

    Simply looking to either have my expectations reset to reality, or please, someone, tell me the secret to maintaining a floating fly line.

  2. Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    With daily use, I'm happy to get a year out of a line
    "If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong." John Gierach

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    Joe's right about 150 days being all you can ask from a line.

    One thing you didn't mention is how often you do your cleaning routine. I bring this up because my understand of those SA cleaning pads is that they have some fiberglass or some other sort of abrasive material built into them, and are designed to slightly abrade the tiny pockets of lubricant that make up the AST lubricant. If you're cleaning the line with those pads too often, it could be that you've worn enough of the coating off that it can't float all that well anymore.

    I'd say that cleaning your line every 5-8 fishing days is plenty, maybe even less if you're fishing very clean water.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Grand canyon of Pa.

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    I have lines that are 4 years old and still float...
    1- I don't use dish soap, this strips them of the surface material..
    2- when i get a new line i seal the end so no water gets in. (a secret the manufacturers don't want you to know)
    3- i only clean them with irovy soap on a damp rag the wipe with a dry rag.
    4- then i use a dressing if its called for (not all lines need to be dressed)
    5- using braided ends collects microscopic dirt. causing lines to sink
    6- putting to much floatant on will collect dirt also
    7- never use a detergent on your lines..
    8- I fish more than 250 days a year
    sandfly/ bob
    N.J.B.B.A. #2215

    I did not escape.....they gave me a day pass!
    from the outer edge of nowhere
    fly tying and fishing Gillie..

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Bozeman, MT and Sheridan, WY but now Houston, Texas

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by BigCliff View Post
    I'd say that cleaning your line every 5-8 fishing days is plenty, maybe even less if you're fishing very clean water.
    really? I have never cleaned any of my fly lines. Maybe i should do that some day.

  6. Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    I clean mine once in a blue moon. maybe every 10 to 15 times fishing then I do it again. unless its really muddy water then I might do it sooner. all I do is use some fly line dressing and put that on a old t-shirt and pull the line through it one time. thats all. you can see some of the crud that came off on the old shirt. after that i store it till next time and go fish again. works good. I have heard of people getting 5 years or more out of a line if they take care of it.
    "Hey, you.Get your damn hands off my herl !!!!"

    owner of the GL Fishing Forum.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    The stuff from Scientific Angler works great. I have used it on the line I got. After a while this line will slowly sink, not something I really want. I've used it and it works great. I tend to be visual when fly fishing and the floating line is a must for me. I've also tried it on some small flies with some success.
    <*))))>< Fish with teeth ... If I ty it a fish will hit it

  8. #8

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    First and foremost, read the manufacturers recommendations on line care!
    They know what's best for their lines and it is in their best interest to have you get good service and performance from their lines. If they mention using their condititioner, it's really cheap insurance at $3-4.00.
    No detergent! The makers will tell you that. It leaches the plasticisors that make lines slick.
    Modern lines are so slick and carefree that I would even try to see how long I could make an old-school line last. The difference between the old lines and modern lines is night and day. The new lines slickness repels dirt and grime and if they do get scummy they are easily cleaned as suggested by Sandfly.

    As for the 3M/SA micro-abrasive cleaning pads for lines with built-in slickness like SA with AST, Wulff's J3 and Rio's coating, a swipe or two bring a fresh surface to the top. The pads are like 12-1600 grit sandpaper.
    To answer Clint's concern, and because I'm in the metrology field, I once took a .00005" mic to a section of line and it must have taken, honestly, 50 swipes with the pads before I noted a difference in the line diameter. When they say micro they must mean it!

    What a time to be a fly fisher though. It seems all manufactures have caught on that the very least we expect of a floating line is that it float! Rio caught on early and now the others have followed suit. SA now uses the tiny loops on the ends of their premium lines that not only seal the end but doubles the floatation in that critical area. Cortland does it best though. Their Dyna-Tip lines somehow miraculously float without the loops and without making the end-user jump through hoops by sealing them.

    Aside from skill, the line is the most important part of the whole game we play. The right line will wake-up even a marginal rod whereas the finest rod with the wrong line just doesn't cut it.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by BigCliff View Post
    One thing you didn't mention is how often you do your cleaning routine.
    I'd say that cleaning your line every 5-8 fishing days is plenty, maybe even less if you're fishing very clean water.
    First, I appreciate everyone's comments. As I mentioned, I really have no comparison point so I don't know if it's my expectations or something I'm doing/not doing. I expect that for starters I need to determine exactly which line is which and read the mfg's suggestions regarding cleaning.

    Cliff, regarding your questions, I'm a fairly lazy person. The line has to really start sinking before I'll do something about it, especially during the nymping seasons. I definitely do not clean every 5-8 fishing days. I'll start with that and see what happens.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Floating Line Doesn't Anymore

    What is recommended for sealing the end of the line?

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