Tangles on my stripping apron

I hate it when this happens. I'm using a Scientific Anglers Wet Cel WF-5-S. Sink rate 4.0-5.0 inches per second. I clean it, stretch it, coil it neatly, but still it wants to stick to itself, twist up, look like undercooked spaghetti and not let me shoot it off my stripping apron. I am now in search of a full sink (around 5 ips) that is less prone to tangling up in my stripping apron. Any input would be much appreciated, Jim


Active Member
Jim - is this a new line? I too had an older SA full sink that acted more like a slinky than a fly line. My new SA full sink is much less prone to tangles. With the older line, twice in one outing I had to kick ashore and spend far too much time fixing a birds nest. I retired the line to the garbage. I have an Airflo that is far less prone to tangles but still not nearly as untangly as any of my floaters. I'm hoping @Starman77 will weigh in here, he fishes full sinkers (almost exclusively) and sure doesn't seem to spend any time untangling messes. Good luck.

Lue Taylor

Lue Taylor/dbfly
Jim the line is twisted while you are fishing slowly let out line to the backing kick around for few yards then slowly spool line back on the reel if that does not help chuck it buy AirFlo
I've tried untwisting the line quite a few times with limited success. I'll try casting the full amount of line, that might be part of the problem. The line seems to be somewhat "rough" (as in not slick or smooth) and tends to stick to itself when wet (undercooked pasta). Even after stretching the coils are small and do not lay flat. So..I think I'm ready to buy a new line. Do you guys think Airflo is the most "untangly" option for a full sink?
What diameter / size reel is the line stored on? Do you have enough backing on your reel? Oversized reels or large arbor reels help with the coiling problem. Pay attention to how you lay out your line on the stripping apron and form an "O" with your stripping hand when shooting line. Get a new line and have it spooled on your reel by a pro at your local fly shop.


Active Member
I don't know that I'm an expert on line twist as I get line twist myself from time to time, but this is what I know from years of fly casting. Some fly lines are just more inclined to get twisted up than others, as they have too much memory or remain too stiff in cold weather (because they were designed for warm weather) or rarely, were put on the spool at the manufacturer incorrectly. If the line twist is really bad, I'd recommend going to a high bridge or stairwell in a tall building and attaching a weight to your leader and then letting the fly line all out from the reel and let it untwist itself (no need to let out the backing as it rarely gets line twist). Fly lines are usually 90' long, so you need to be at least that high. Reel back in slowly under firm finger tension to further remove line twist. Repeat several times. That should get the line twist out.

Sometimes, line twist is introduced by the way one fly casts, so when out on the water, you might try the tip from this RIO rep as shown in this YouTube video:
or do a search for "Untangling Your Fly Line on the Water". The hard part is remembering which way to rotate the rod, but for right-handers, just think "counter-clockwise" looking from the reel to the rod tip. After rotating the rod, make several casts as far as you can and when reeling in the line, apply firm finger pressure on the line as you wind the line back on the reel. If the line twist increases, then rotate the rod clockwise, as maybe your casting style causes the line to twist in a way opposite the way for most right-handers. Usually a half dozen to a dozen rotations will solve the line twist problem, unless your problem is really severe.

Some lines respond to stretching before fishing, but the newer fly lines, like the RIO Intouch series, have a core that does not stretch, so you're just wasting your time trying to stretch a fly line that is designed to not stretch. It might even damage the fly line as you try to stretch the fly line coating when the core won't stretch. Stretching a fly line just helps remove the memory that the fly line coating gets when stored on the reel. If the line doesn't have much memory in warm weather, but has lots of memory in cold weather, that is a good indication that the fly line was designed for warm weather use. For fly lines that have a lot of memory, you may even consider removing the fly line from the reel in the off-season and storing the fly line in large, loose coils to reduce the memory problem (for me, I'd rather just buy a better fly line since there is no off-season for me due to fishing all year 'round).

A smaller diameter reel will cause more memory issues than a large diameter reel, so a large arbor reel might be something to consider.

The way a fly line behaves at the fly shop (where it is stored at room temperature) may not be the way a fly line performs on the water, where it might be 30 degrees colder. See if your fly fishing friends will allow you to borrow their lines to try out before buying one to make sure the fly line will perform in the conditions you normally fish. Generally, I think that the more expensive the fly line, the less memory it will have, but this is not always the case.

I had one new fly line that was clearly wound on the spool incorrectly at the manufacturer as it was all twisted right off the bat when installed on a reel (this is rare, as I've only had it happen once to me with all the fly lines I've installed). Using the techniques described above, I was able to get it untwisted and functional. Rarely, some people install their fly line on their reel incorrectly and introduce line twist, so make sure the line spool is directly aligned with the reel spool; if the line spool is 90 degrees to the reel spool, you'll get an unbelievable line twist that will drive you nuts. Sometimes, line twist may be introduced by the type of fly pattern one is casting, as a big fly that spins in the wind could cause line twist. This will be pretty obvious in your leader first, so if you start seeing your leader getting all twisted up, adjust your fly or change flies or let the leader untwist so you don't get the twist transferred to your fly line.

Hopefully, one or more of these tips will help relieve the frustrations from line twist.

I did put on some more backing in hopes of less line memory. And have really tried to be aware of how the line is paying out through my hand and position of the rod, actually watching the line pile instead of the cast. Right now I'm trying to decide between Airflo 6th sense WF5/6S3 ($75) and Rio Intouch WF6S3($65). The SA Wet Cel was half the money. (I have found that spending more money solves most problems.) Both are low stretch and both should load my fast action 5wt rod more (which I want). But which one will minimize the tangles?
Jim, you need to stretch the line after it comes off the reel. On your first cast/troll, grab the line (section by section) and stretch it. Really hard. This takes the coil out that has become set while the line is on the reel. Coil is much more common than twist, with some lines you will have to fight it every time it comes off the reel. Rex gives a great explanation.

Thanks for the input Rex (and everybody else). After hours of "internet education" and the input here I feel like I have a better understanding of tangled fly line. My issues may be due to "user error" or sub par line or (probably) both. That being said..any suggestions for a full sink line that is less prone to tangles?


Well-Known Member

I don't know if SA has changed the formula of Wet Cel lines in recent decades, but the ones I got in the 70s had memory coil like a bedspring. It was necessary to pull them off the reel, tie off to a tree or fence post and stretch hard for several minutes to reduce, but not eliminate the coiling. I switched to sinking lines by Cortland (444), and they are much better in terms of having little memory.

Coiling and line twist are different. Twist can be caused while casting or with flies that spin when retrieved or trolled. The above advice on removing twist has worked when I needed to do that.



Active Member
Jim, the WetCel series is an economy line that retails for around 38$ and is an 80' overall length where most other lines are 90' or there about.
I recently opened a box of WetCel at Sportsman's Warehouse and unwound a coil or two (shame on me) and it felt alot stiffer than other lines that I use, Airflo, Cortland, Rio, and a more upper end SA so I shied away.
You might take yours in to a store or compare with someone else to see.

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
Out of curiosity, does this occur no matter which fly pattern you are using or more often with certain patterns?

I am a firm believer in using good fly lines.
Well.. after researching the heck out of all this...I believe that my (economy) Wet Cel line along with line twisting (which I now know how to mitigate) is the source of my woes. AirFlo 6th sense (Polyurethane) or Rio in touch (pvc) are what I am looking at. Apparently Airflo is renowned for its sinking lines. And Lue suggested it (which means a lot to me). So... I'm going shopping (online).