If you’re like me, you start to get fishing cabin fever during this deep part of winter, so I try to stay busy and connected to fly fishing by reorganizing my gear, cleaning my reels and taking stock of my flies that didn’t end up in a tree this year. I recoated fly lines, oiled reels and took out the yards of scrap tippet that I collect while I fish. Upon opening one of my streamer boxes, I looked down in despair at what looked like a dozen wrinkled, kinked up clousers and bucktail flies that I had tied up for the Fall Striper run, that were wrinkled either by my own ignorance or chew up by a few over eager bass. I had spent a decent amount of time tying these things up and I didn’t want to have to scrap them if I could avoid it.
So I took to my local fly shop and asked a guide if they had a trick to restore life back to flies, and I’ll tell you what their trick works like a charm, so we decided to share it with you so you can save some money or some time at the vise.
Simply put, you are going to be steaming life back into your flies. All you need is a faucet with hot water and you are good to go. Simply wait for the water to get warm, and run the bucktail fly under the water until the fibers return to their previously un-wrinkled state. This is also a great opportunity to check your hooks to make sure they are sharp, free of corrosion and ready to stick into big fish.
And bingo! You have given new life to damaged flies. Be sure to allow the flies to fully dry before you store them again.
This trick also worked well to straighten out feathers and synthetic-fiber streamers, just use slightly cooler water than you use for your bucktails.
Bonus tip: You know those little packets you get in shoe boxes and dry goods that soak up humidity? Try keeping one of those in each of your fly boxes. This will minimize the risk of hooks getting rusty and make sure your flies stay dry all the time.