Sunday Classic / 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. (HERE)

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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6 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Save Your Fingers Fly Fishing – Use Lycra Finger Sleeves

  1. Good point. A fishing glove is a lot more expensive than a finger sleeve.

    Have you tried using tape, surgical tape or the foam-like tape (can’t remember the name!) as finger protection?

  2. Kent,

    Thanks for the post. I have had the problem in salt water, not so much in fresh. I guess if I went on a day long bass fishing trip, it might be an issue.

    I got Lycra gloves as a gift, and they work fine for me when I fish the salt. I imagine the finger sleeves would be more comfortable and I may try them.

    I like the Lycra. Also helps clean your line.

  3. Hi: The boys jokingly call them “finger condoms” but I’ve been wearing them for many years – no more line cuts! My wife makes them for me and I love those finger guards as I fish in the salt a lot; even around home. She finds it easiest to get the right fit (sometimes need to experiment a bit) then she makes enough to last me a few years. It doesn’t take her long.

    I think the tape Jay is talking about is called “Flexx-rap”. They have a great web site that lists retail places in Canada and the USA that carry their product, or you can buy direct. It is a waterproof grren tape that sticks to itself, doesn’t slip or loosen once applied, and I’ve found it works great! I always have a few rolls scattered through my waders, and pockets. After application, it is so comfortable you almost forget you are wearing it; and no line cuts! Great stuff.

  4. One more thing I forgot. Depending on how you retrieve, you will wrap thumb, and fore and middle fingers. For a long time I didn’t wrap my thumb, and paid dearly for that.

  5. You never know how much aggressive your underwate bangs are! From casting your lines to landing them up on may require you to give them tough fight. In that, the safety norms will account for a lot. Pack up your fishing kit with adequate safety measures and such tools. Enjoy fishing!

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