Save Your Fingers Fly Fishing – Use Lycra Finger Sleeves

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Lycra Stripping Guards are a savior for finger chaffing. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Today’s the day for a big fish.

It’s perfect streamer fishing conditions with overcast skies and there’s been lots of aggressive fish. I’m pounding the banks with my favorite streamer for thirty minutes when I notice the grit on my fly line is starting to agitate my fingers. The fly line feels like it’s coated in fine sandpaper from the silt and grit it’s picking up from the floorboard of the drift boat. I tough it out for another half hour, telling myself, be a man dude, but every fast paced jerk-strip retrieve has my fingers getting beat up even more. The fact that I’ve yet to land a fish only magnifies my discomfort. I’m willing to put up with the sore fingers if there’s a reward every once in a while but that’s not happening today, and I’m seriously considering yelling uncle and manning the oars.

Then there was my last saltwater fly fishing trip where I had botched two strip sets on tarpon back to back failing to get satisfactory hook penetration. My guide and partner both sighed in total disappointment, as I missed two perfect fish opportunities. I asked for forgiveness and promised them that my next eat would end in a perfect execution. An hour later my shot arrives. I present my fly, initiate my long slow strips, and my line comes tight as a big tarpon eats and turns away. I set the hook hard and hold on tight to my fly line. The hook buries but as the tarpon realizes it’s hooked, it screams off into the distance at full speed and rakes the fly line across my bare skin fingers. Instantly, I know I’m going to pay for holding onto the fly line too long, but I land the silverking beast, and it’s all worth it. After the victory cry, high fives, and adrenaline rush wears off, the throbbing sensation of chard fly line fingers begins. That’s when I silently ask myself the question, why didn’t you consider wearing finger protection dumbass?

Have you been in this situation before on the water? I’m thankful to admit it happens to me only on rare occasions these days. After scouring the web looking for a solution and talking with other fly anglers, I’m glad to inform everyone, I’ve found the perfect product that significantly eliminates finger chaffing. Ever heard of the fabric material Lycra? It’s basically a tight woven stretchy spandex material that can be sewn into finger sleeves that you can slide on and off with ease. They provide fantastic finger chaffing protection. I purchased my three finger set for $6.99 at Bass Pro Shops, but you can purchase these slick finger stripper guards online at

Lycra Finger Sleeves Longevity

If you fish a hand full of times a year, and you take care of them they should last you  a season. If you fish a bunch like I do, you can expect to replace them every month at least. I will worn you, they will get dirty and smelly pretty quick with frequent use. I wash and rinse mine between trips with mild hand soap, and air dry them to help eliminate the stench. I also lengthen their life by only using them when I’m streamer fishing or fishing in saltwater. Yes, eventually the fly line will wear through the lycra, but for the small cost of $6.99 for a set of three, I have no problem replacing my worn out set. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can easily make your own. As my friend Sherry Parker comments, she had no choice but to make her own since the standard retail size finger sleeves were way to big for her fingers.

Worry no more about stripping dirty fly line across your fingers. Streamer fish all day long with a smile on your face. Give yourself a little extra confidence on the saltwater flats with the added finger armor. I highly recommend lycra finger sleeves. I don’t leave home without them. Some of you probably are asking the question, why aren’t you using one of the numerous stripping gloves on the market? I’ve found them to be an annoyance to fish with, and many of them don’t even have the finger protection in the right spots/fingers. Furthermore, they wear out just like anything else and cost significantly more than lycra finger sleeves.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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16 thoughts on “Save Your Fingers Fly Fishing – Use Lycra Finger Sleeves

  1. I’ve been sewing these finger sleeves up on an ancient sewing machine for a few years now since the ones available commercially are too large to fit my small fingers(I am a petite woman)I never fish without them. Takes me about 30 minutes to make 50 which will last me about 6 months if I take care of them. They protect my fingers and help keep my fly line clean. Cost practically nothing to make! I’ve been using the same yard of lycra forever….

    • Hey Sherry,

      Have you messed with trying to sew around the front and back of the sleeves to keep them from fraying? I know you would have to do this step before you sew the sleeve closed but I thought it may make them more durable. Tell Paul I said hello.


      • Hi Kent,
        You could try different sewing and craft products to prevent fabric from fraying, some of them remain soft and will feel smooth on your finger.
        And if you don’t know how to use a sewing machine (like me) there are good products like peel and stick fuse tape, just put a small piece of tape close your tube put it under an iron and you’re done without stitches!

    • A simple solution that I use is medical wrap. The stretchy kind that they use when you give blood. It comes in small 1″ wide rolls. A little goes along way and it’s disposable.

  2. Hi Kent,
    I just use pinking shears (cutting shears that cut in a zig-zag which prevents fraying)when I cut the pieces of lycra and then make 2 seams very close together to create the tube and turn the tube inside out. They never fray. When they wear out it’s usually because I wear a hole in them or they get stretched out and start to slip off my finger. They aren’t as pretty as the store-bought ones but very functional.
    Paul and I have enjoyed the pics on facebook of your son. He is growing up fast!

    • Hate to give an unsolicited plug, but Buff, yes that Buff, makes an excellent pair of sun gloves with the fingers protected with a synthetic leather. These gloves aren’t cheap, but I throw them in the washing machine along with my other fishing duds and line dry them. I’ve had mine for two seasons of saltwater red fishing and freshwater outings and they are as good as new. You can buy several sets at 6.99 before mine wear out… But, as you have discovered, it is not a good idea to leave them in the back of the pickup overnight in hot Texas coast summers. They do smell just like dead fish the next day….just a quick rinse in fresh water at the end of the day will take care of that issue…

      • Ronr,

        I wasn’t aware that Buff sold these. I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing with the G&G community. I’m going to have my mother-in-law sew me some sleeves up in the mean time.


  3. Pingback: Unearthed Mayan Dam, Finger Sleeves, Tarpon as Lead Issue, Plastic Problems in the Great Lakes | MidCurrent

  4. I’ll second that opinion about SA Sharkskin line. I use a WF9F Magnum taper for topwater Bass fishing, and without finger protection I’d be missing fingers by now.

  5. Finger Grippers are an excellent way to protect your fingers while fly fishing. – sizes come in small, medium, large and x-large. Check out the Finger Friends and Neo Nuckles too! $9.95 for a package of two. They are very durable, washable, and the Finger Grippers are water resistant.

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