Tricks to stripping smooth lines

I often have trouble when retrieving a smooth line if I don't use something to protect my fingers.

Q: I know using tape on your stripping finger often helps when retrieving coarse fly lines, but I often have trouble when retrieving a smooth line if I don't use something to protect my fingers. Is there a way to avoid this when retrieving smooth fly lines?

Jim Cochran,
Tallahassee, Florida

A: I can't tell you why this works, Jim, but it does. Make the cast with a smooth line. Before you begin retrieving, place the rod tip underwater in the direction of the cast. Keep the tip underwater while stripping until you feel water on your finger. You can then lift the tip from the water and complete the retrieve, with the water acting as a lubricant. Water on the stripping finger also allows you to better sense when a fish takes the fly.