How often should fly lines be replaced and ways to make them last longer

Updated: Jun 3

Cracked Fly Line

How often should I change my fly line?

Most fly lines need to be replaced after 100 to 250 uses. This is the point at which enough wear and tear has developed to significantly decrease their performance. The primary factors that determine how long a fly line will last are:

  • Quality of the fly line

  • How well it’s cared for

  • Type of fly fishing situations the line is used in

Just like tires, lightbulbs, and luffas, fly lines will eventually need to be replaced in order to achieve maximum performance. That being said, there are things you can do to make them last longer.

In this article, we will discuss:

Click here to read our article about our favorite fly lines

How to tell when it’s time to replace a fly line:

There are four signs that indicate it's time to replace your fly line:

  • Noticeable cracks in the line

  • Wear and tear on the loop at the tip of the line

  • Reduction in line shooting smoothness when casting

  • Line sinking instead of floating

1. Noticeable cracks in last 30-50 feet of the fly line itself

This is usually the first visible sign that it’s time to start looking for a new fly line. Fly lines have a “coating” around the line itself that becomes cracked due to everyday use and/or improper care.

2. Too much wear on the loop or knot at the front tip of the line

fly line loop close up
Fly Line Loop

Some fly line’s have a loop at the tip that’s used to attach the leader to. When this loop becomes cracked, it can create abrasions in the end of the leader, which in turn can cause the leader to break off when fighting fish.

Depending upon the length of the line’s tip (the skinniest section at the front end of the fly line), it may be possible to clip this loop/knot off and retie a new one using a perfection loop. If this is the case, it can only be done once or twice before the balance of the fly line is thrown off and will need to be replaced.

3. Feeling a reduction in how well the line shoots when casting

This usually happens after cracks in the line have already become visible. It can get to a point that’s easily noticeable and can cause the tendency to “overpower” the cast, thus losing a significant amount of accuracy.

Note: This can also indicate you just need to clean your line instead of replacing it. So before giving up on your current line, give it a good cleaning. If after that your line still isn't shooting out smoothly, it’s time to look at replacing it.

Our favorite fly line cleaning kit is one from Loon Outdoors. Its coating has UV blocker built into it, and it comes with a sheepskin cleaning pad inserted into a wooden block to help with the application process. Click the image below for current Amazon pricing.

4. The floating tip section doesn't float anymore

If it’s a floating line, one thing you might notice before the cracks become apparent is a reduction in how well it floats. This is especially true in the tip section that connects the line to the leader. This is caused by tiny scrapes or cuts in the line’s coating that allow the line to become waterlogged.

What damages a fly line?

Damage to a fly line is most commonly caused by:

  1. Exposure to UV light for extended periods of time

  2. Coming in contact with bug spray/sunscreen/hand sanitizer