Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Carbon Marine Fly Line Lair vs. Stripping Basket

Carbon Marine Line Lair
Every fly angler knows that one of the biggest headaches when fishing from a skiff is controlling the loose line on a windy day.  Carbon Marine's Line Lair is a very simple solution to that problem. 

This product has been around for several years and just about every serious angler I know is using them.  As you can see in the photo above, it's nothing more than a thick mat with a few dozen 3" rubber spikes molded onto its surface.  These loosely hold the fly line in place without snagging it for the next cast.  At $129, it's a rather expensive slab of rubber but the Line Lair really works as advertised. 
Ryobi Collapsible Leaf Basket.
Solid stripping baskets are a popular solution but I've never liked them since you often have to look down after the cast to make sure the line is actually going in to them.  That's a big distraction when you really need to be focusing on the fish.  They also tend to be just as expensive as the Line Lair. 

A much cheaper solution, and one I used to use for years, are the folding leaf baskets that sell for about $20 at Home Depot.  These actually work better since they have a larger mouth than the rigid line baskets sold specifically for fly fishing.  They need quite a bit of weight added to their bottoms to keep them from blowing off the deck in 20 knot winds.  A large, soaking wet beach towel dropped in their bottom usually works but a piece of garden hose filled with lead sinkers is the preferred  modification.  Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the top half of these baskets from dancing around in some serious gusts.  For that reason alone I stopped using them completely. 

If you can swing it, get the Carbon Marine Line Lair.  It's one of those rare examples of something that you'll get more than your money's worth out of over its lifetime.