How to Clean your Fly Line

I decided to bite the bullet and clean my fly lines. Cleaning your fly lines is probably one of the most satisfying things you can do to improve your casting and the “floatability” of your line. I have read you are supposed to clean your line after every other trip using special products however I do it a few times a year using fairy liquid.

Why clean your fly line?

Over the course of the season it picks up grime, weed and if like me you are paranoid about the tip sinking then generous amounts of floatant which must be washed off with the other debris.

The Process

  1. Fill up your sink with warm water with some fairy liquid – just enough to make it bubble.
  2. Strip off half your fly line into the sink. (I only strip off half as I am lucky to cast that far)
  3. Move the water around over your fly line using your fingers – do not do this too much or you could end up with big wet knots in your fly line.
  4. Get a paper towel and wet it, then pull the line through the wet paper towel starting at the reel end using moderate pressure until you get to the tip of the fly line.
  5. Marvel at the line of grime left on the paper towel.
  6. Repeat steps 2-4 (there is never the same amount of satisfying grime the second time)
  7. Now get a dry paper towel and pull the line through it – this time you are drying the line, once done repeat.
  8. Wind line back on reel.

You now have a fly line which will float much better than it did before until around your 3rd trip when it starts picking up grime again.


  1. nice post Alistair something i always seem to “think about” but never do but after reading the post i just got up and done it you inspired me lol

  2. Sometimes there’s a lot of detergent in the Kelvin at Kelvingrove Park. Couldn’t we just fish there and save effort and Fairy liquid?

  3. Hi, Alistair —

    I use luke warm tap water and a paper towel on my floating fly line after I unpack from a trip. That little brown crease — like grease — always appears on the paper just like in the photo above. That’s good! A clean line = a clean cast!

    — ron P.

  4. Hi guys – the fact is it will make your casting improve (which Ron pointed out) and takes around 10 mins to do. It is a simple procedure on a dirty line to breathe new life into it.

    James – I suppose the foamy stuff cancels out the effects of the sanitary towels.

  5. Apparently, Armor All dashboard wipes are good for cleaning fly lines too, but I’ve never tried it.

  6. I have heard that as well – hmmm – fairy liquid against a 40 quid fly line is one thing but something that could potentially destroy it is another. The problem is that different companies use different coatings on their lines so it may work on one but not the other.

  7. True. I read about it in Trout & Salmon a few years back. I did think at the time that there could be some interesting results.

    But hey – as an intellectually unsophisticatd former colleague of mine once said “it’s ok, there’s even been books about it.”

  8. Alistair – that pike spot you’ve been fishing recently was mentioned to me by a guy at the GAC before christmas. We went up one crap day in november and got totally soaked and freezing cold with no luck. After your exploits there recently however, we headed up last friday and finally caught a pike on the fly after a winter of trying 🙂 Just a small jack but fun nonetheless

  9. Hey Andy – Aye I believe it is a good spot right enough (never name places) although out of the few trips I have only caught one – surely though with all the bivy tents and boats it must be a magnet for pike.

    James 🙂

  10. Alistair, i have e-mailed you this, but you are more likely to see this here than via your e-mail. I had a tremendous day’s salmon fishing yesterday, probably the best day’s spring fishing ever. I will fill you in on the details when i see you, but i had a 15lb’er, an 8lb’er and a 6lb’er, all as fresh as paint and all fought like tigers. The river’s really on form at the moment and more and more fish will come in with the next rains. Alex and i are planning a trip to the special grayling place on Saturday, if you are keen give me a bell.

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