Paralleling my lengthening crows feet, my fly rods and reels have begun to show the effects of time, weather and wear.
I love the convenience of bringing my gear to the fly shop for manufacturer repair, but what if I am on a long vacation, out in the middle of nowhere, and something goes wrong? It could ruin the trip.
Recently, I have learned that many DIY (do-it-yourself) field repairs are quite easy! Most repairs are intuitive, and require easy-to-find, inexpensive materials. To my knowledge, there is no pre-packaged, fly fishing repair kit on the market.
Here is a list of supplies in my fly fishing repair kit, along with a few tips:
(Please keep in mind these tips are in no way a replacement for manufacturer repairs. Some of these field repairs may void your warranty; Its best to be familiar with your manuals and warranties first.)
Extra tip tops and snake guides to match my rod sizes:
These can be purchased online at any “build your own” rod supply shop for a few dollars. To remove a broken rod tip top, heat the metal with a lighter and gently but firmly lift it off. (Patience is a virtue here.) Next, replace it with the new tip top using ferrule cement.
Ferrule cement (and a lighter):
Ferrule cement is my new best friend! It comes in a stick and is ideal for many repairs because it can easily be removed later for a proper repair at a fly shop or by the manufacturer.
Simply melt the tip of the ferrule cement with a lighter and place the melted “goo” onto the rod tip. Slip the new tip top on and rub off the remaining cement that oozes out when you secure the tip.
Be sure the tip is aligned with the other guides before finally securing it! (If you do make an error, you can simply reheat and adjust.) Ferrule cement dries fast, so you can get back to fishing quickly!
It can also be used to repair a wader pinhole if you don’t have a patch kit. Be sure the wader pinhole is dry. Heat the stick and “goo it” over the pinhole. Repeat on the inside of the wader.
(You can also whittle a ferrule cement sticks down to a fine tip if you want to use a smaller amount.)
Whitewater rafting tape:
Tougher and more water resistant than duct tape. It can be used as a temporary wader patch, if you don’t have a patch kit. The area must be dry. Simply place a piece of whitewater rafting tape over the hole or tear, inside and outside. Remove the tape later to properly patch the hole using a patch repair kit. Cotol 240 can be used to remove the tape adhesive.
Whitewater rafting tape can also be used to secure loosened felt on a wading boot (that is, if you still have a felt pair; they are no longer recommended) Start at the top of the boot and wrap around several times to secure the felt.
Is your reel getting loose from your rod frequently? Your butt cap may have become loose. Electricians tape will secure it. Mount your reel first, secure it like you normally would, and then wrap it tight as a whole.
Spool of GSP (gel spun thread) and fiberglass tape:
Gel spun thread is used to make smooth, light, yet strong repairs to you rod. If you have a chip in your rod, a split, or if a guide becomes loose, secure these with wraps of fiberglass tape, and then wrap over the tape with thread wraps. Secure the thread with another layer of fiberglass tape. It won’t be pretty, but it should hold well.
Wader patch kit:
This should include Aquaseal and Cotol-240 Cure Accelerator.
Aquaseal is a paint-on, liquid rubber that dries thick and permanent. Cotol240 Cure Accelerator Cotol 240 will speed the drying process and can also be used to remove ferrule cement.
Aqualseal can also be used to patch a cracked fly line. Expose the crack by bending the line, fill it with a dab of Aquaseal, straighten it out and let it dry.
Great for scraping off old glue and glazes before you do a field repair.
If your reel suddenly sounds like a pepper mill when you reel in or let line out, chances are you have gravel in or around the drag system. Remove the spool and rinse both in clean water. Wipe dry with a clean rag and if necessary, add a little reel lubricant.
If you have a “sealed drag system” chances are it won’t be necessary to completely disassemble it to remove gravel. Its sealed, so nothing can get inside. If you see gears and mechanisms exposed, this is called disc drag system, and you will need to work a little harder to get all the gravel out by disassembling more of the device. (This is exactly why a sealed drag system is the best way to go, and worth the higher upfront investment)
A variety of screw drivers:
Many reels are made out of aluminum or other soft metals because of their light weight. Aluminum is very soft and strips very easily! Using the wrong size screw driver can strip threads and permanently damage your reel.
Extra bootlaces, or a paracord bracelet:
See my post on making your own paracord bracelet.
I always have a safety pin on my vest, in my truck visor, in my kit—everywhere. They are great for getting glue out of the eye of a fly, joining a damaged nylon strap, or acting as a temporary zinger.
A multi tool:
These come in infinite varieties. I tend to like the kind that are not too bulky and expensive, and not too tiny either. I use the pliers of my multitool all the time, especially to reverse a reel for a left hander.
Eyeglass repair kit:
Polarized sunglasses are essential for eye protection and for site fishing. A tiny screw driver can also come in handy for gear repairs.
Good for cleaning out cracks before repair, or just to improve the performance of your floating fishing line.
A bag of clean rags:
I like the skimpy ones that come in a bag at paint stores, where I can get into nooks and crannies easily and then just toss them when they get too dirty.
Yes, a penny. Sometimes a penny is just the right size to open a quick release cap.
Clean piece of dark colored felt: Sometimes I have a left handed customer and need to reverse a reel. I use a patch of black felt to lay out the tiny parts. If you lose a tiny retainer or bearing, you are out of luck.
So there you have it. Your DIY fly fishing repair kit is set! I would love to hear comments and other repair tips from my readers.