The fly fishing reels we have today will last a lifetime and give wonderful service if you take good care of them. I’m now fishing with a Hardy Pre-Reissue Perfect Reel that has been in heavy use for over 30 years and it has never let me down. Be sure to follow the manufactures direction on the cleaning and care of your reels.
Here is the way I clean my fly fishing reel. I remove all of the fly line and backing. I remove the spool and scrub the whole fly reel (back, front, inside and out and the spool) with warm water and soap using an old soft toothbrush. I dry it with a soft cloth and set it aside for several days to dry completely. I then apply a thin coat of reel oil to the center pillar, drag, drag screw and all moveable parts inside the back of the fly reel being very careful no to get oil inside the spool where it might contact the line or backing. Next I put on new backing and replace the fly line.
Next week I’ll discuss how to take care of a fly line so it will perform well and last many years.
How do you know when to wash your fly rod sac and replace the backing on your fly fishing reel? A quick, easy and accurate test is to smell them….If they smell like mildew wash the rod sac and replace the backing. I like to allow my fly rod and flyfishing reel to dry for several days at room temperature out of direct sunlight before storing it for longer than a day. You are reading this too late and you let your fly rod/ sac/ backing mildew? Depending on the degree of mildew, this could be the end of your fly rod. Clean your fly rod with a dish detergent and allow it to sit out to air dry for several days then check to see how badly it is damaged. Cork grips and rod wraps will be the hardest to salvage if they are soft after this drying period. Fly reel backing – replace it. Rod sac – wash it in a mild bleach solution and allow to air dry. This will discolor your rod sac but it will still be functional and protect your fly rod while in the case.
You are wading in water waist deep and you want to switch from a floating to a sinking tip line. Just remove the spool from your reel and replace it with the spool in your vest which is holding the sinking tip line. The problem is how to safely string up your 9ft. fly rod without wading back to the bank. To achieve this I thread up the lower half of the rod then take the rod apart at the middle ferrule and thread that part and reassemble the rod when I’m finished.
When putting your fly reel away for the winter clean inside the back plate, drag and spindle with a cleaning fluid and a Q-Tip unless the reel manufactures directions specify not to clean and oil it. On other reels apply a light coating of oil or reel grease to all working parts, being careful not to overdo this and get it on the line and backing. Set the reel in a shaded well ventilated area for several weeks to be sure the line and backing are completely dry, then store if for the winter.
This photo essay will cover the steps involved in placing a new fly line on your reel.
I already had backing on this reel. If you are starting with a new reel; tie your backing to the arbor (center) of the spool first then wind the backing on under pressure.
After stripping the old line off the reel, check the backing for mold/mildew or any other undesirable damage like knots and knicks.
You will find a pair of snips and pliers handy when rigging your fly reel/ fly line.
Start with an Albright Knot to attach the fly line to the backing. Â I cinch my backing down with a pair of pliers. You will notice that the backing cuts into the coating of Â the fly line, this is okay since the strength of the fly line is in the core not coating. Â This is a very strong knot and is sufficient for all but the largest gamefish (Tarpon, Large Permit) where you will need a Bimini Twist or something like it.
This is a personal preference; I like to place Aquaseal or Pliobond on my line/ backing connection to make the connection pull through my guides smoothly. Â This may take more than one application. Â If you are in a hurry, skip this step or use UV Aquaseal.
Wind the fly line onto your reel under constant and steady tension. Â If you are putting backing on your reel for the first time, constant steady and firm tension is very important. Â Should you place the line or backing on under loose tension, you run the risk of the line pulling itself into the line below it as it is being pulled off under pressure (i.e. a big fish pulling against the drag) and creating a tight knot. This knot will surely take more time to untangle than you will have when your fishing is pulling line at 30mph. Â An ounce of prevention…….
Once you have all of the fly line on your reel, check to make sure your line is not rubbing the reel frame. Â If you find that it is close or is touching the pillars, strip your line off the reel and remove some backing. Â Then start over with step one.
The loop to loop connections will work with any leader on the market. Â You will need to tie a double surgeons loop or perfection loop in the end of your leader if it does not already have one.
Step Â 8
Take the time to make sure your Loop to Loop connection looks like this. Â It should look similar to a square knot. Â I cinch it down tight and usually find that this will not slip out under normal fishing conditions. Â If you find yourself in windy conditions, at the end of the day check this connection for wear and to make sure it does not look like the photo below.
This is an example of an incorrectly connected Loop to Loop. Â This is a hitch and will allow the leader to cut through itself.
Throughout the season we check these knots several times. Â Normal wear and tear will weaken these knots over one season. Â Re-tie them when they start to show signs of wear or, obviously, if they break when you pull on them firmly. Â Replace your leader at least yearly or more frequently depending on the amount of fishing you do.
Clean and dress your fly line with a line dressing every 30 hours of fishing or more frequently if you are in a dirty environment. Â This will greatly prolong the life of your fly line.
We will have a blog up shortly that will cover the needle knot which is my preferred line – leader connection.