Trouble-Free Flying

Among the countless advantages boats provide for fly anglers lurks one big headache: cleats tangling your lines. Whether you dip your fly on the flats or offshore, eliminate the problem with these three solutions. ****

PERMANENT SOLUTION: Cut a length of plastic tubing that is about 4" longer than your cleat. Measure the space between the tip of the cleat and the deck. Cut holes in the sides of the tubing, at the ends, to match the measurement. Put one hole over each tip. The result is a protective arch that lets the line slide over it without tangling on the cleat.

QUICK FIX: Take the S-hooks out of a rubber tension strap (a flat rubber bungee cord). Lay it over the cleat, so it touches the gunwales on either side. Now cut the strap to length. Whenever you're ready to cast, drape it over the cleat and tape the ends on the gunwale.

INSTANT GRATIFICATION: Tie a T-shirt or a rag around the base of the cleat. It won't solve the problem entirely but will reduce the number of foul-ups.

BONUS: Fly lines sometimes tangle on your shoestrings. End this snag by replacing the laces with a length of 3/4" elastic strip. Just lace up your shoes, tie off the elastic, and trim off any excess.