Mostly, cleaning your fly line gets pooh, poohed. If you ask why, the answer is usually, I don’t have anything to clean it with. Ask about its relevance (casting a clean line) and a blank stare awaits you. However, for those that own a steady diet of bass fishing, fishing the briny or worse, fishing coastal salt marshes, cleaning your fly line is not a yeah, maybe later thing.
One, a dirty fly line (salty or just dirty) does not cast as well as a clean line. And that can be significant. Two, a dirty line will wear out your fly line about twice as fast as a kept clean line. Replacement is $60 to $100 a pop, plus the down time and re-rigging inconvenience. Lastly, a fly line that stays dirty loses its suppleness, tends to crack and is ruined before its time.
So, what cleans and conditions fly lines safely?
Fill the sink with warm water that’s been significantly diluted with dish detergent and let it soak for about 10- to 15-minutes. Then finger the wet line through a rag – tugging it to stretch it (keeps it supple). Let line drop to the floor and become completely dry (a few minutes). Now finger the line through another rag wetted thru with cleaner. Being safe with this “conditioner” product is imperative (some blogger bloviator types recommend s–t that destroys plastic coatings). Stay with fly shop bought conditioners unless you’re a plastic coatings chemist and know “stuff.”
The whole “operation” takes 25 minutes and recommended intervals are every three to five outings, Sometimes those service intervals are not convenient so I just water wipe-down the line after use, right there at the truck, and then rag wipe with conditioner and call it a day. On day long salt marsh outings I’d sometimes do the later at the end of every day – it takes just minutes and you get to inspect the line.