This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

November 5th, 2001


There are some myths which are persistent in our sport. An old one is about fly fishing being a 'rich mans' sport. It isn't any more expensive than a lot of sports - and like other sports one can spend as much or as little as the budget (or taste allows.) The myth may however, discourage some folks from even trying to fly fish. Too bad.

Another popular old myth is that bamboo or cane rods are all soft, like a buggy whip, and very heavy. There were some cane rods sold out of Japan after the 2nd World War which were like that. But there were thousands of cane rods produced in the US which were and are just dandy. The cane rods being produced today can be anywhere in the ball park, depending on the maker and the taper/design of the rod. Prices for cane rods vary widely as well, a very nice cane rod can be purchased for slightly more than the top name graphite rods.

Reels are another example. If one is being used for trout fishing, all that is really necessary is something to hold the line. For big fish, the drag becomes important. But to somehow insist that the average guy on his local trout stream needs a $200 reel (or even more) isn't realistic. If you have money to burn, and are into tiny machined jewels posing as reels, good for you. But it sure isn't necessary to fish.

There's another myth which keeps coming up - and it drives me crazy.

It's about the care and feeding of fly lines. The folks who produce fly lines will tell you to clean them often (I fished a lake with one company rep who cleaned the line several times an hour - because there were all sorts of microscopic stuff that 'gorped up' his line - making it float improperly.) He had a little cleaning pad, held in his line hand, which he just pulled the line through. I do know that there are all sorts of plankton and stuff in saltwater, and we are very careful to clean our fly lines after EACH use. I honestly don't think I've cleaned my fly line while on the water. (But maybe I should have.)

So today in a good magazine I read one should "clean their line at least once a year" - and then treat it, polish it, with Armor All. WRONG! Maybe if you own a fly shop and want everyone to have to buy a new fly line every year it would be great advice. But even that is very underhanded and tacky. Car seats and dashboards are not made from the same stuff fly lines are.

Since I've got a chemistry background, I'll try and make this non-technical. Using the vinyl-type cleaners and polishes removes some of the good stuff from the fly line. Fly lines contain stuff to keep UV light (sunlight) from breaking down the coating material. Armor All leeches the anti-UV stuff out of the fly line. Resulting in your line getting like bubble gum, or worse shredding off the core. All of the fly line manufacturers do recommend specific cleaners. But warm soapy water and a soft cloth will clean a line very nicely. Use the fly line preservative recommended by the manufacture. If you don't know what that is, check their websites (or read the little booklet that came with your flyline.)

I don't know where the Armor All myth got started, I've even heard it would make you line go faster, farther . . .you name it. Let me make it clear, IT WILL RUIN YOUR FLY LINE. DO NOT USE IT!

And you can quote me on that. ~ LadyFisher

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