You’ve heard of it; you’re keen to try it out; but where do you start in making up a washing line setup?

You’ve Heard of it…

A ‘Washing Line’ is a series of flies hanging off your leader as the name suggests, suspended at both ends and designed to be fished off any line of your choosing. However, a floating, intermediate or midge tip (short sink tip) style fly line is what most anglers use.

Fly Lines for Washing Lines – Click Here

The whole idea is to have two or three unweighted nymphs/buzzers hanging off droppers from the main leader. At the point of your line (i.e. the tip end of the leader) you will have either a booby fly or depending on circumstances a high floating dry fly. These point flies will hang the washing line of suspended flies up so that you have a sweeping row of flies hanging down at differing depths depending on your speed of retrieve.

You’re keen to try it out…

It is not uncommon for anglers to set up a few 20ft leaders with three droppers and a point fly ready for a day on the water. This can be an ambitious length of leader for the average angler to cast out and make sure it lands straight to start fishing immediately. There’s no point in trying to cast out this length and this many flies if they are landing in a heap, all you will do is spend half of your day straightening the line in the water and not fishing, so shorten the leader down and remove a dropper.

Where do you start in making up a washing line setup?

Choose your desired tippet material for your leader, whether it be copolymer or fluorocarbon is up to you. Copolymer is more supple so this may aid the movement of the flies on the droppers, but this is an argument for another blog post.

Tippet Material for Washing Lines – Click Here

Ideally, you would want anywhere between 12-22ft of leader with 1-2 droppers tied in evenly down the leader. Each dropper should be around 6-8 inches long which will reduce your total length by a minimum of a foot to 18″ depending on if you have chosen 2 or 3 droppers:

  1. 1. The flies you choose are totally up to you but some of the most successful washing line setups are diawl bachs, nymphs or buzzers and then on the point (end) tie on a booby of any kind as long as it floats and is able to hold up the other flies.
  2. 2. If you are tying in a wet fly setup, on the point you could have a booby style cormorant and some wet winged flies on the droppers.

It doesn’t have to be hard to tie up a washing line. If you are good at your knots then great, but using leader rings can be a life saver for those with clumsy fingers or poor eyesight.

Accessories for Washing Lines – Click Here

Your retrieve will vary depending on the style of flies you have selected, i.e. setup “1” above you would retrieve in a figure 8 style fashion to imitate short sharp movements without much distance being covered. Setup “2” would require a faster, more consistent retrieve suited to wet flies.

Casting out a washing line can result in painful time spent trying to remove fanckles. It is desirable to cast as long a line as you can, but be sure that the washing line lands straight and starts fishing the moment it hits the water. Shorten your casting to ensure this. Always have a few spare washing line leaders prepared and on a spool ready for a quick change in the event of a dubious knot in the leader. The risk is not worth the loss that could have been avoided.