Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

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jimbofish
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Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by jimbofish »

Seems like at least half of the old fly reels I've acquired came with old silk (?) braided fly line on them. Obviously they haven't been fished in decades and are stuck together, stiff, and otherwise useless. I'd guess that old line dressings are what's causing the problems.

I've cleaned and oiled some of these reels for use with new line. Others will most likely just be displayed and never fished. The old lines that I've removed are now stored on old empty line spools stashed in a shoebox. I'm thinking that it would be nice to re-spool the display reels with the old lines if there were a way to clean and semi-restore the old lines. Not expecting them to be fishable, but at least pliable enough to wind on neatly and clean enough to look presentable and not cause finish damage to the reels.

Anyone had any success, or failures, cleaning old fly line, or is it a stupid idea?

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Midway Tommy D
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Jimbo,
A nice long soak in boiling water may loosen them up if it is wax or oil based. Both will float to the surface as long as the water isn't bubbling. Then scoop it off the top before removing the line. Sort of a modification of an old trapper's trap cleaning process. Then wrap it around a line dryer for a couple days and see how supple it turns out. Actually pretty simple process, especially if you don't plan on reusing it for fishing.

Tom

Don Champion
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by Don Champion »

Quite often as that old line goes bad it will cause the reel spool to corrode. Be careful!

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john elder
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by john elder »

There are methods to rescue these old lines and if they are not rotten, will often sell for more than the reel they came off of!

Step 1: soak the line in warm water to which you have added baking soda...does not have to be precise, but maybe 1/4 cup to a quart of water. Soak the line for 30 min to an hour, then pull it through a rag or paper towel and all that gunk will come off.

Step 2: now give it a few gingerly pulls to make sure it's not rotten...if it breaks easily, head for the nearest waste basket and don't waste more time on it. If not, then the next step once its good and clean is to recoat it with tung or linseed oil mix.

Google "overmywaders" and you should be able to find a more precise set of instructions.. You will also find it and other posts by googling "cleaning fly line"

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john elder
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

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jimbofish
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by jimbofish »

Thank you, John! :cool

I'll give that method a try this weekend. I tried wiping the line with rags dampened some naphtha and DNA earlier tonight. Seems like it's easier to treat the whole line at once and no expensive solvents.

Some good stuff on that site. I wasn't aware that there were braided nylon lines also.

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jimbofish
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by jimbofish »

Allright! :cool I was more than surprised by how well that simple procedure worked. A handful of baking soda in a couple inches of warm water in a bucket, 20 minutes, and the gunk just melted off the line. I don't know the chemistry behind it but I'm satisfied with the result. Maybe it was SOP back when these lines were common?

The leader end of the line is still darker than the end that was closer to the spool but just as clean.

I'd add that one should be careful not to stir the line around in the water lest they lose track of the ends and get a big tangle in the middle when wiping it down. :doh: :oops:

Thanks again.

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john elder
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Re: Old, stiff, stcky fly lines on old reels

Post by john elder »

Yes, you want to coil it into the solution and hold onto one end if/when you decide to agitate it.

You will note that some lines are double tapered and these can be flipped to leave the better end on top to fish. Others are single tapered, untapered or weight forward. What you have will be obvious as you move the line back and forth between bags as you "re-varnish" it.

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