Labeling Line

By Tom Herrington – Taken from the Historic Ocean Springs Flyfishing Club Newsletter

Have you ever forgotten what fly line is on which fly reel? Do you want an even more secure connection for the ends of your fly lines?

There are many reasons that you want to label your fly line after it comes off the retail packaged spool:
• You have a fly line that is your best line for casting but you have forgotten exactly what kind it is. Is it S/A Saltwater? S/A Saltwater Redfish? Cortland 555? Or Wulff Bermuda Blue Triangle Taper?
• You have stored a fly line in a container, and now you cannot remember which type line it is or what weight.
• You cannot remember a weight of a line on a reel.
• You travel to a great destination and when you get there you realize that you have three reels with three different lines. Which one is which weight?
• You have changed lines and have stored the line that you have taken off onto another spool but have forgotten to label the line and now, months later you want to use it?

There are many, many more reasons for wanting your lines labeled and I am sure you can think of at least as many. My personal reasons encompass all of the above reasons especially the confusion when traveling.

For a while Cortland labeled some of their lines, actually opting to laser print along the line itself. What a great idea, but for some reason it did not catch on with other line manufacturers probably because of the added expense to the line manufacturer.

With the advent of preparation for my annual sabbatical to Key West, I was determined to do something about it. Sure I had marked my lines with little lines for weight—at least all the light colored lines—you know, three little marks for the three weight line, a wider mark representing a 5 weight, a wider mark and three small marks representing an 8 wt., and so on. But, I had no clue which lines were which and forget about the black sinking lines and heads.

At one time my favorite line was a baby blue Cortland 444. My reason was that when the fish looked up he could not see the line against the blue sky. Now nearly all if not all manufacturers have baby blue or sky blue lines so how can you tell the difference on the fly reel. Heaven forbid if you ever take the fly line off the reel. I needed and wanted some way to mark my lines where I would not only know the weight of the line but the type and brand. An internet search revealed the answer.

I am now labeling my lines with heat shrink tubes. Most of the tubes shrink to 1/2 the diameter so if you wish to label the line at say the loop which serves also as added security, you would want to use an 1/8″ diameter tube that will shrink to fit the fly line and over the nail knots snugly. Try your local hardware store for heat shrink tubes or check out

I bought the DYMO RhinoPro 3000 printer with 1/4″ shrink tube cartridge, a Black and Decker heat shrink gun, and an extra pack of assorted shrink tubes (TT74900) as it contains different colors and sizes including clear shrink tubes.

I use the latter ¼” clear tube for labeling black or clear lines and although those tubes can’t be labeled using the labeler, I label them with a Sharpie; then shrink them. Works like a champ.

If you use it on both ends of the line, where you have already formed loops for connections, it works really well, but even using the tubes on the front end over the nail knot connection makes for what I think to be an even more secure connection. Well worth trying.

For minimal investment (if you still aren’t convinced) buy just the assorted shrink tubes, label with a Sharpie, and use a hair dryer to shrink the tube.

Match the tube color with the fly line color.

You can also taper the ends of the tube by trimming with a razor or Exacto knife at an angle before shrinking.

I wonder how I can use these shrink tubes in fly tying …. Hmmmmmmm.

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