Off the back of an amazing fishing season, it’s time to pack it in for the winter. The easy thing to do would be to chuck the gear in the garage and pick it up next season.
Most of the gear will be fine and functional the following spring as most fly fishing gear is relatively low maintenance. But with a few tips and tricks, you can extend the working life of your gear by taking a little extra care before you store it away for the winter break.
It doesn’t take too much time and can save you money in the long run. Keeping your fly fishing gear clean and organized is the best way to ensure the equipment lasts longer and, most importantly, doesn’t fail you when you have that monster at the end of your line.
How to Store Correctly
Below are what fly anglers use on a daily basis, and how these items should be prepped for the winter storage break.
If you consider the price you pay for wading boots these days, it’s essential to store them correctly over the fall. Not looking after the boots correctly will cause the glue to separate and the stitching thread to weaken. Loosening thread is the first sign of boots that won’t last much longer.
Upon finishing with your boots for the season, give them a good cleaning with soap and warm water. Make sure all the mud and dirt are off them.
It’s important to keep the boots out of direct sunlight. Yes, when drying them out from the soap wash, the sun is the best place to have them, but once they have dried completely, leaving them in a shaded, dry place for a few more days is recommended.
Once completely dry, they can be placed on a dry shelf in a breathable bag or box until needed again. It’s best to store the boots with the laces out, and the tongue pulled forward to allow air into the boot.
Storing waders correctly is imperative to ensure they can be used for a few seasons without any leaking issues.
Give the waders a thorough wash both in and out with some soapy warm water. If any leaks are found, it is a good time to repair them. Anglers often only wash the outside of the waders, forgetting the inside of the waders have seen some hot days out on the water.
The stocking foot bootie should be treated like a wetsuit with minimal sunlight and completely dry before storage. Once washed and repairs have been done, hang the waders out to dry. Keep them out of direct sunlight as the light rays soften the construction and stitching, which leads to leaks. It’s important to dry the booties thoroughly, else they will start to mold.
Hang the waders up for the fall; waders should always be stored on a hanger in working condition to prevent cracks and tears on the fabric. For waders with boots attached, hang them upside down for any water to run out.
This is the best way to store the waders and ensure longevity.
Fly rods are the easiest piece of fly fishing gear to clean and store for the off-season.
Using a hose pipe or, better yet, a shower, gently wet the fly rod and begin to lightly scrub the rod’s eyes, reel seat, and cork. You will notice the change in cork color once finished.
Make sure all the grit and dirt are off the rod for the winter. If the fly rod has been used in the salt, the angler should take extra care to wash all parts very well. Salt is the worst corrosive, and it’s worth putting the extra time into washing the rod thoroughly.
Once the rod is clean and dry, store it in the rod tube off the ground if you have a vermin problem. Store the rod in the case in a dry place with the top unzipped to allow the rod to breathe. You can also store it in your diy fly rod vault if you have one.
Please note the above storage tips are for carbon and glass fiber rods. The care and storage instructions for cane rods should be followed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
It’s best to keep the system simple and well organized when it comes to storing fishing reels.
Pulling all the line off the reel until the backing is the best way to start. Keep the reel’s drag in the loosest setting, so there is no tension on the drag whilst in storage.
Give the reel a good scrub with a brush making sure all the dirt and grit are off. Most reels have removable spools; removing the spool and giving the immediate inner workings a rinse is recommended. If this is something you are not comfortable with, then get your local fly shop to give the reel a clean and service.
This wash and care needs to be done after every fishing session or at least every second day for salt reels. The corrosive properties of salt will destroy the features of the reel over time.
With the correct care and servicing of your fly reel, it can last you a lifetime.
Simply put, a float tube is to remain semi-inflated during storage and between sessions. The worst thing an angler can do is leave it rolled up for prolonged periods of time. The folded points eventually dry and crack and become weak spots.
Sound silly? Taking a few minutes to clean and store your flies properly will ensure a longer fishable fly and stop the hook from deteriorating.
It’s best to remove all the flies from the fly boxes and soak them in freshwater for a while.
Once the flies have had a thorough soaking, remove them and place them on a board to dry out completely. Once dry, return to the fly boxes, storing them open if possible, until needed.
Fly Line Care and Storage
Understanding fly lines
The fly fishing fly line is one of the most important pieces of gear on the setup. Fly lines are what make casting possible and are often the least looked after each season.
Not looking after the fly line correctly will result in a cracked, stiff fly line that won’t function well and probably just knot and tangle all the time.
A fly line consists of a braided power inner core that is covered in a PVC or Polyurethane. The PVC is the older method, while the Polyurethane has a more sustainable, modern approach. The polyurethane method keeps the fly lines softer for longer and doesn’t leech any unwanted chemicals into the water systems.
Both coatings of the fly line require care and the correct storage procedures to prevent damage and wear.
Care and storage
After each session, it is advised to wash the fly lines and leave them in loose coils around the reel.
For prolonged storage, it’s best to keep the fly lines on a spare spool or an Omnispool www.omnispool.com.
Keep the fly line loose and dry on these spools with the reel end out to be attached first.
For a new line, wet it thoroughly before use and ensure you don’t get unnecessary coils wound up in it.
It’s encouraged that anglers wipe the line with a damp cloth for long storage as well.
Things to avoid when storing fly line
- Tightly wound lines begin to crack.
- Avoid loose lines; make use of an omnispool for correct storage.
- Don’t store the lines on a small arbor as this causes coils.
- Don’t just leave the line after fishing; a good wash is recommended.
- Packing the line away when wet will cause mold.
- Keep the line in a cool dark place out of direct light.
By putting these tips to use with your fly gear, you will ensure a longer life for most of it. Each angler has their own system they follow, which is great. It’s important to get most of the cleaning done early so the gear can dry and be stored in a cool, dry place for the winter.
Looking after your gear with the above tips and tricks will ensure that every time on the water will be a great time. The gear will last for a long time and may even be that fly fishing setup you give to your grandchildren.
Look after your fly fishing gear, and it will look after you, really is true!