5 essential tackle tune-ups to avoid early-season fly-fishing disasters


Photo: RIO Products

#1  Fly Lines

If you don’t do any other pre-season maintenance, at least clean your fly lines. Even if you only fish the most pristine creeks, your line still picks up gunk such as pollen and suspended particles. Washing a line only takes 20 minutes, and you’ll be astonished at the difference it makes. Not only does a clean line float better, it also runs through the guides more smoothly, making long casts easier.

The best cleaning method I’ve ever found is the so-called two-bucket method, demonstrated by fly angler and filmmaker Tim Flagler in a popular online video. All you need is a little warm water, dish soap, a towel and, naturally, two buckets. Avoid automotive- or vinyl-cleaning products—those were okay in the 1980s, but they actually harm the coatings on modern fly lines.


For an extra edge, treat your line after washing with whatever conditioning product the manufacturer recommends. Just don’t follow the example of one hapless angler I know and put flotant on a sinking line.