In the Army, there are many activities that you learn to hate. There are so many that sucked. Of all those things, one was instilled. Everything you touch should be more clean than when it was brand new. Everything. Now as an Infantryman, that meant your weapon had better be flippin’ spotless unless you’re putting lead through it. When I was in Iraq, it clicked. All these over the top things you often hear about with the military actually have a point to them. Well, most all. Cleaning our weapons while over there was as common as brushing our teeth. When my 240B was dirty, it started malfunctioning. Solution: keep it clean.
So good quality fly lines are not cheap. I think we can all agree on that. We have rod and reel cases to protect the rods and reels. Why do we not protect our fly lines in the same manner? Cause it’s not as simple as throwing it in a case! I fish cold and warm water. Both have some creeks and rivers that have algae, dirt, and sand present that inevitably stick to the fly line. Over time we may notice it becomes more difficult to shoot our line out. I rely heavily on the absence of friction with my one-armed casts. Yet I often find myself not taking the steps to help make things easier for me.
Recently I was given the opportunity by Hareline Dubbin to test out an up and coming product from Omnispool called the Switchbox. Basically, this product is broken down into two applications: line storage and line cleaning. Let’s say you go bass fishin’ and you want float line for those summer evening topwater flies. But you also want some intermediate line for some subsurface action. A good quality reel is expensive enough. Then add an extra spool for the other line and you’re out some serious cash. By having the Omnispool Switchbox, you eliminate the need for that extra spool. You can even stack these together during storage like you would your tippet spools. The other application the Switchbox provides is the ability to clean your line fast and easy. I mean easy. By attaching the LineCarebox to the Switchbox, you can run your line through by simply reeling. No mess. No line everywhere. Nice.
This is the application I chose to do for the review. For the cleaning solutions, I went with Hareline’s top sellers: Fish Pimp Renew Solution, Loon Scandinavian Fly Line Cleaner, and Loon Line Speed. I like both the companies a lot. Both their cleaning solutions are water based and non-toxic. Very nice for the environment. The Fish Pimp Renew Solution cleans, conditions, blocks UV, and repels dust. Their directions state to apply it to a line cleaning tool and run the line through. The line can be used immediately, but for best results, allow it to cure for 12 hours. Loon is especially interested in protecting the environment. The Loon Scandinavian Fly Line Cleaner cleans and protects against UV and is used the same as the Renew Solution. Feel free to use the line immediately. The Loon Line Speed states to apply it to a line cleaning tool and allow 5 minutes to dry once running the line through. Then buff with a soft cloth. The line can be used immediately, but for optimal performance wait 24 hours.
I used a Mirage with Orvis Hydros 3D line for the first test using the Renew Solution.
The first step is to run your tippet through a slot on the case, then through a hole in the shaft of the Switchbox. Make sure you leave your tippet on so when you can run the entire fly line through the LineCarebox.
Once you run it through, you spin the wheel a few times to get the tippet wrapped on good.
The next step is to hook the LineCarebox onto the Omnispool case. It has four thick patches that will do all the work.
Line the tippet up straight down the middle and close the lid. You’ll see a canal on the outside to help keep the line in the middle portion. Loosen the drag on the reel, hook the Crank Handle in, and hammer down.
Crazy right? So they went an extra step and made the retrieval easy. You unhook the base of the Omnispool and hook it in on the side. It becomes a stand. Boom.
I used an Access Mid-Arbor with Orvis Access line for the next test using the Fly Line Cleaner. Yes, I have the wrong cleaner in this pic.
I could conveniently flip the patches around and use the dry, unused sides for the second test.
Here’s the small amount of dirt removed from the Access line. I’ll admit it was kinda clean before the test.
The last test, with the Line Cleaner, was done on a GQS with Rio Gold line.
I cleaned the patches before this test with mild soap and warm water. They dried surprisingly fast.
Holy moly. That’s a lot of dirt. You can really see the difference in this solution compared to the others.
After running it through a paper towel to buff the solution off, even more dirt came off.
Once I was done with the third test, I went out and tested the lines. All three casted noticeably further. The lines felt smoother and I was satisfied. I knew ahead of time there were too many variables to do a “which casted further” test. Differing rods, reels, and lines made it impossible to get results to compare on paper. Although they all worked well and did the job, I will tell y’all what I thought from casting the lines before and after the process.
- The Omnispool is a tool I will use very often in the future. I won’t need to buy extra spools, won’t need to have line all over the floor tangling up, and won’t need to have a spooling kit. It was very simple to use and for a valued price of $12.95 for the Switchbox, $8.95 LineCarebox and $4.95 Crank Handle, you can’t go wrong. An accessory I’d like to see is a boat bag to keep the spare Switchboxes in that has a shaft going through the middle. You could have say 10 switchboxes hooked together, ready to go. All the person would have to do is open the bag flap and spool one of the lines on their reel straight from the bag. I better get credit if they do that!
- The Renew Solution, valued at $5.95, worked really well. It was easy to apply and did a good job of cleaning the line. It put a little slickness to the line that I feel was great for casting those longer casts with ease.
- The Loon Scandinavian Fly Line Cleaner, valued at $8.95, worked just as good cleaning. The line felt a little less slick than with the Renew, which is what I would prefer when using flies like streamers where I’ll be stripping the line back a lot. I don’t wanna have trouble gripping the line.
- The Loon Line Speed, valued at $8.95, cleaned the best. Hands down (or hand down in my case). The amount of dirt and debris it got off the line was pure awesomeness. But I will say this: it makes that line slick. Too slick for me without running it through a cloth a second time. After that, it was good to go.
So which to use? How often? I went to the source on this one. A while back, I had the pleasure of meeting a man named Jim Lepage. He was giving his time to a Project Healing Waters event. He gets points in my book for that one. I also saw him in England, although he was hanging on a wall and not as talkative. For this review, I wanted some advice from an Orvis expert on the matter. I got way more than I bargained for. I got some solid advice from none other than Tom Rosenbauer with Jim backing it up. These guys have some serious resumes.
Tom stated, “How often you should clean a fly line varies with how dirty the water is and how you fish. If you fish from the bank and strip your line onto the ground, I would say you should clean it every trip. If you fish in water that has a lot of algae, or in salt water, it’s a good idea to clean it often, maybe every other trip. If you fish in very clean water you might be able to get away with cleaning your line a couple times a season, especially if you make mostly short casts. We don’t recommend line protectant as our lines don’t need it, but a good line cleaner/lubricant works well—as does regular dish soap and warm water. I like to do two passes with my line—one with firm pressure in a felt pad or paper towel, using the soapy water or line cleaner, then a return pass with a little less pressure to clean off most of the soap or lubricant. If you use too much lubricant, you will have problems in many types of saltwater fishing where you need to strip quickly and firmly as it is tough to grab the line. A line with excess lubricant shots and casts really well, but if you can’t grab the line when you need to strike a fish or strip quickly, you’ll soon be frustrated”.
Jim told me he was in total agreement with Tom. Jim elaborated, “Cleaning is a good thing for a line. Using a protectant (lubricant, Armor All) is not needed on lines that have additives”.
So basically, look at the lines you own. Do they have additive technology built into the design? If so, the Line Speed with its slick protective coating is not needed. I would recommend the Renew or Scandinavian for such a line. If it doesn’t have additive technology, you should be okay using the Line Speed maybe once a year, making sure you really do buff off the excess afterwards. Do we really need all this UV protection and all? Maybe I would if my lines lasted that long. But my lines get used. They get cut on rocks. They get chewed on (in my case). So for me, I get my use out of them before they ever show signs of cracking. But as Jim and Tom stated, cleaning a line is imperative. And we are definitely not cleaning them as often as we should! Just like an Infantryman’s weapon, this is our tool. We should try to keep our setups running like a well-oiled machine. Make things as easy as you can for yourself.
Here’s a video from the manufacturer’s site showing how to change out lines:
Here’s one on cleaning:
If you’d like to purchase these items in Hareline Dubbin’s lineup, give me a holler and I’ll get you straight.