Q: I have heard a lot of different methods for cleaning dirty fly lines. How do you suggest cleaning them so that they cast and shoot through the guides better?
A: A floating line will float when it is properly cleaned, and all fly lines will shoot well through the guides when clean. Prevention is a good method: Keep lines off dirty decks and places where they could pick up dirt, sand and other contaminants. Dipping the soles of your feet into water and wiping them on a towel before stepping onto a boat helps a great deal.
Many people suggest using ArmorAll to clean fly lines, but while it does clean the outer surface of the line, it also scrubs away some of the line’s lubricant. In time this can cause the line to become stiff and to crack. You may have noticed that once your fly line is cleaned with ArmorAll, it is slick and shoots well. But after fishing for a short time, is doesn’t shoot well anymore. That is because ArmorAll is water soluble, and it washes off the line.
There are a number of good line cleaners on the market. One of the best can be found right at the kitchen sink. Soak the line for a few minutes in warm water with a mild dish soap (don’t use detergent that may remove the line’s lubricant). Then scrub the line with a rough cloth. Immerse the line in clean water and scrub well with another cloth to remove all soap, and you are ready to go.