December 16, 2010
Line management is a perpetual hurdle that all anglers face. Knots, coils and windblown line will sabotage a decent cast in an instant, as will stepping on the line or allowing it to wrap around a cleat or mangrove shoot. Sometimes holding a few coils in your fingers is simply not a practical approach. There are many devices out there that make line management, well, manageable. Which apparatus you choose is really a matter of personal preference. On a skiff, I like to use the cockpit, but this means I move around a bit more and need to be continuously aware of my fly line. In a pinch, a wet towel laid on the deck will help keep the line from blowing off the boat. Below are a few options that may improve your game. Most are available at your local fly shop or are easy to fabricate.
Offshore boats tend to have line catchers everywhere. They also have an abundance of 5 gallon buckets used for chum, nets, cleaning and such. Fill one of these buckets with a couple inches of water to keep it from sliding around and-voila-instant fly line bucket.
Turn a standard leaf and yard debris collapsible basket into a fly line manager by adding a ring of 1" rubber tubing filled with lead sinkers to the bottom perimeter of the basket. The wide opening makes it easy to strip naturally.
The Beachcomber Fly Line Tamer by Pro Trim has a sturdy, weighted non-skid base, which enables the angler to keep a rod rigged and ready in the bucket. The opening is a little tight, so these buckets tend to work best for the first shot.
The stripping mat is made by a few manufactures, including this one by FlyTubez. These are portable and work quite well. As long as a few loops of fly line are captured by the plastic tubes, your line will remain untangled and on the deck.
A stripping basket is necessary when fishing the surf or from the beach. There are many variations and types available. Choose the one that feels the most natural and comfortable. These do not work well in a boat.
Guides and boat owners often have stripping baskets designed into their casting platform. These are a bit bulky and restrictive, but are laid out nicely. If they work with your body and fishing style, they are wonderful.