If you’re a thoroughly obsessive fly fisher (yes, that’s an oxymoron, but bear with me) you’ve probably wondered what the useful life of your fly line is. You may find cracks and nicks in that line and rightly figure it for the trash heap. Other times you may just see that floating line sinking and think it dead, something a good cleaning in soap and water fixes right up. But what about those lines you don’t use very often, stored loose on the factory spool (something I do that with all my lines off season). You may have lines you only use once in a blue moon – say a bonefish taper presently sitting in a gear crate in Alaska, or that striper/sinker, you Fijian you.
I just got back from a trip down South. I hadn’t been in the salt in some time (something that’s about to change for good), and found myself doing quite a bit of prep beforehand. I rummaged through leader material, practiced a few knots, and even reorganized (i.e. stocked up) on flies. Obvious stuff. But when it came to fly lines I was a bit lost. I had a clear intermediate taper (stripers) that had been wet just a few times, a ‘weight up’ floating taper (bonefish) I might have never cast, being lucky enough to find light winds on the trip immediately following its purchase. And I also had line upon line (read: backup upon backup) for those nasty poons, but I haven’t seen a poon let alone cast to one since I moved to trout heaven (Colorado) last century. Those, along with some lighter and specialty rigs (read: double tapers for small streams, demo lines I’ve fished a single day, etc.) look like they are in good condition – clean and slick, no obvious faults, even on very close inspection.
Some of those lines are pushing ten years old, and some may be even older. Some may have spent weeks tagging pompano, spanish mackerel, and the occasional rooster, while others got no closer to a fish than sitting on a reel, attached to a rod, in the well of a Islamorada-based flats skiff. They’ve been well cared for, and yet before this latest outing I was convinced to buy fresh line anyway. Now back home I’m doing inventory.
Should old fly lines be sent to the glue factory, even if they look (and feel) like they can still race? The floor is open.