Curls that aren’t cute

Don Oliver

We’ve all seen advertising pictures of little girls with cute curly hair. Those of us that fly fish have seen a fly cast that falls several feet short of the intended target because the line has curls in it. Those curls are not cute. A curling line doesn’t actually land in circles but lands in lots of little “S’s” or kinks. It also comes out of your hand or stripping basket in knots. Those curls are not small wind knots, but become big knots that won’t go through the guides on your rod. It’s frustrating, looks awful, and is preventable.

The biggest cause of a curling line is non-use. If you don’t use a reel and line for a year, then put it on your rod, make a cast, and expect the line to cast out nice and straight, you might be in for a big surprise. After a period of time a line wound nice and tight on a reel’s spool develops a memory. It wants to stay in those nice tight curls wrapped on the spool even when cast. If you have a memory-curled line making a good cast with a big bass or saltwater fly is difficult; casting a size 18 Royal Wulff is impossible. You’re just going to end up with lots of line either at your feet or very short of the target. There are several ways to avoid lines with curling memories.

The easiest cure for this problem is to fly fish every day alternating your reels. That way your line won’t have time to develop a curling memory. However, if you have reels with weights varying from 2- to-10, it’s impossible to rotate them on a regular basis.

There is another way to cure a line with a curling memory. First soak it in warm water. After it soaks for 30 minutes pull it through a soft chamois. Next, loop it between two doorknobs that are several feet apart, and leave it for a day. When you remove the line from the doorknobs, pull it through the chamois once more. Then wind it onto the reel spool, but not so tight a coiled memory will once again appear. If you can’t find suitable doorknobs, coil the line as if it were a lasso, making big loops. Hang one end of the loop from a shower handle, and weight the other end with a heavy hand towel. Make sure the loop hangs straight down. Again, let it hang for a day. Then use the chamois cloth and rewind your line.

If you find yourself standing beside your truck at a great location, and realize your line has those pesky memory curls there is an “in the field treatment.” Put a cloth over the ball of your trailer hitch. Then strip the line off your reel and put it around the cloth covered hitch. Step back forty or fifty feet and gently pull the line back and forth. This will stretch line and help to remove the memory curls. Then rewind the line and you’re ready to make great casts.

If, after trying these line straightening tactics, your fly line still has those cute curls, it might be time to visit your favorite fly shop for a new line.

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