How To Get New Fly Line For $5, Or Pretty Close

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Think you need a new fly Line? Spend $5 First.

I was out fishing with my buddy Scott the other day. He broke off his rig while I was on the oars so I handed him my five weight to fish. Scott took one cast and asked,

“What fly line is this? I’ve got to get one!”

What Scott didn’t know was that I had fished that same line just two days earlier and it had been miserable. The line stuck to the water and the guides. It felt like you could barely pull it through the guides, let alone shoot it. It was filthy.

“It’s a RIO Gold,” I told him. “But what you like about it is that I dressed it last night.”

It’s such a simple thing to clean and dress a line, but so many anglers don’t do it. At least not regularly enough. I’m guilty too but at least I know how to fix the problem. And now, so do you. Before you spend $90 on a new fly line try this out. I’ll bet it solves a lot of your problems.

How to clean and dress a line

71vcI1R7uQL._SL1246_Start by cleaning the line. Putting line dressing on a dirty line just makes a slurry. It’s best to clean your line often and so I keep it simple. I use finger wipes. The kind you get at BBQ joints. Individually packaged, alcohol towelettes. I bought a case of 1000 of them for $7 wholesale years ago. You can get them HERE. I keep them in my boat bag so I can clean my line any time. It takes seconds.



Once the line is clean I dress it with Mucilin green label. Mucilin is a silicon paste line dressing. It can be used even when the line is wet. Again, easy and immediate. Just rub some into the applicator and pull the line through it. The whole process of cleaning and treating doesn’t take two minutes.



Unless your line is truly shot, it will cast like new. Better actually. Keeping your line clean and dressed will also extend it’s life immensely. Fly lines are not cheap and it pays to take care of them.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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33 thoughts on “How To Get New Fly Line For $5, Or Pretty Close

    • Jay, that’s interesting. I did a quick Google search and did find one article claiming that. I have used the green label for over a decade and never had the problem they describe. The muscilin does a great job for me but if it scares you there are other dressings available.

    • Ok. Here is what I consider a definitive answer.
      I reached out to Simon Gawesworth of RIO. I told him the reader had expressed concerns that silicone line dressings damage lines. Here is his reply.

      “This is mostly wrong. Wrong in that silicone does not damage a fly line at all. It is the principle ingredient in floating lines that make them slick and helps them float, and is most certainly a key ingredient in our line dressing, and (as you say) the only ingredient in our line cleaning towelettes. The only time silicone should not be applied to a fly line is on a sinking or intermediate line as the silicone will affect the line’s sinking performance – to the extent of making an intermediate line actually float.”

  1. great stuff, now figure out how to make my waders last longer. It’s the little details that make fly fishing fun. The time you spend off the water preparing, planning, tying and maintaining equipment is valuable day dreaming time. If the little off the water things can save you money and headache, all the better.

    Wax your ferrels

    • I have some ‘ferals’ living down the street from me – I don’t think they’d like it if I turned up prepared to ‘wax’ them.

  2. One good habit I have is wiping my fly line with a clean cloth at the end of each day fishing. Just let as much line out as the max you used for the day and let it drift downstream. I then reel it in with a clean cloth pinching the line with the thumb and forefinger of my non-reel hand as I reel in for the final time. This has kept my line in much better shape and takes less than a minute to do. Plus, you don’t have a bunch of line on the floor of the cabin while you clean and dress it before or after fishing.

    I may try the finger wipes to see if that’s even better, but a nice soft cotton bandana has worked for me.

  3. Like most things in life, we can overthink the concept. Once a month, or so, I take my Loon Aquel Premium Floatant and apply a generous amount onto my handy fly drying patch and clean my line. I pull it through a couple times and zing!

    It takes me less than 15 minutes and I can do it right in the back of my 4Runner before I hit the water…

    Keep it simple… Scott

  4. I agree with the lines. I do my best to clean them regularly and also occasionally to use some type of line dressing. I also like the Green Lablel.

    Regarding the comment on the waders, the same principle holds true. Keep them clean and they will perform better and ideally last longer. There are lots of cleaners out there. I use the tech cleaner (not sure of manufacturer) recommended by Simms. I think I purchased it as EMS.

  5. To prolong your waders life- wash them with water when you get home & spray them with armorall one or 2x a year.

    I wade in the salt so spraying them & my rods/ reels with the hose is key.

  6. I retired an old Air Cell Supreme after 16 seasons. It’s longevity was due to regular cleaning and dressing with Mucilin. I fished an average of 3 evenings and 1 full day per week and the line was supple and lay very straight on the surface of the loch’s and still waters that I fished in Scotland. I then got the then new Air Cel Ultra 3 distance line, 35 yds. Unfortunately, even though it performed very well I only got 2 seasons out of it. The running line would crack and got worn and so dirty that even with regular bathing and treating it did not last.
    I have since tried numerous lines since and at great expense but never have I found a line that will cast a full 30+ yds and last more than a season or two if lucky. I mainly fish rivers now and no longer need the distance any more. My lines of choice now are the Hardy DT’s in 4, 5 and 6 weights and they are as good as it gets but only get maximum of about 5 years out of them, so that is not too bad.

    • I love the topic also Brian and Dan, but I heard it was Green for leaders & flies then Red for the line (which could be used for the leaders and flies as well). I guess this will never be answered

  7. I love the idea of maintaining gear!
    I wish every client I fish with in the summer would read this. Can’t tell you how much time is wasted daily redoing crap lines and leaders.
    There is ultimately no better way to improve ones fishing than the correct new line.

  8. I called RIO a while back to ask the same question and they told me not to use mucelin on their lines. I didn’t talk to Simon though. It sure does make the line float good… Airflo however said it was all good.

  9. I believe the Red Mucilin is to used when cleaning line that is used on bamboo rods. Red was the original. Something about silicone not good for bamboo. I suppose one could always google Mucilin and see what they have to say.

  10. I agree totally with using wipes and then an application of green
    mucilin. Not sure what to do with my sink tip line. If I treat the floating portion of the line the sink tip will come up against it on the reel and maybe pick up some floatant from the floating line and it may not sink as well or maybe not at all.

    Thoughts anyone?

  11. I am involved with a company that manufactures graphene, a form of carbon that is an excellent water repellent and lubricant. A relative who is a fairly well known fly fisherman and I and were out fishing and thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if we added graphene to the line dressing he normally uses. So we did and he has been using it for over a year now and found that it reduced the number of times he needs to clean and dress his line by half or more. I am thinking of expanding the test so if anybody is interested in trying it out let me know.

  12. I’ve been a big fan of Green Mucilin since my days back in Arkansas – Davy Wotton swears by the stuff. I still use it, but I’m careful with it, and only use it on mono. Word of warning – Green Mucilin WILL destroy Orvis Pro Textured lines. After the first line started to crack apart, I used Mucilin again on the replacement to test my theory – same thing happened. I’ve read a lot of this stuff online over the past couple years – sounds like it only impacts Orvis lines, which is odd because the guys at SA swear it doesn’t harm their lines. Running Rio on all rigs now and have not had an issue, but for you Orvis guys – stay away from the Green.

  13. Very interesting article. I clicked on the link to order the towelette packets you suggested, and in the description the manufacturer listed the packet ingredients inside was soap and fragrance, not alcohol wipes . My question is if we should use soap and water, or alcohol wipes, or would either work? Thanks.

  14. I have been using Scientific Anglers fly line cleaner pad and lubricant successfully for years but I am excited to try this new product instead. However, when I clicked on the link for the pads, it takes me to Amazon which is advertising towelettes that contain no alcohol and are $29.25 per thousand. What towelette are you actually using?

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