Best Stripping Guards
Stripping guards can be worn by any type of fishermen, but fly fishermen will definitely receive the most benefits. In fact, we would consider stripping guards to be one of the most underrated items in the fly fisherman's repertoire.
Stripping guards are pretty simple. They cover your fingers, usually the index and middle fingers, allowing your line to move freely over your fingers without causing any sort of cuts or abrasion. There are different types and styles, but they all hold the same principle.
Stripping guards can also be good for the line, as some stripping guards will actually condition the line, and at the very least, the guards will clean the line of any salt and dirt without destroying your fingers.
We will get straight to our review of the best stripping guards in the section below. Underneath that, we will provide a little more information about stripping guards in general, when they should be used, and how they differ from fishing gloves.
Reviews - Best Stripping Guards
- Very affordable
- Enhances grip on casts and retrieval
- Sewn with a Kevlar seam to reduce seam burnout
- Can stretch over time
- Not overly durable
The Buff Pro Series stripping guards are a good starting point if you're interested in stripping guards. They are made of a very thin and lightweight material (polyester and Lycra), and the simple design is very intuitive and easy to use.
These stripping guards are reinforced with Kevlar-sewn seams, so they are a little more durable than they look. Furthermore, assuming you can keep them relatively clean by washing them the odd time, they can actually act to clean your fly line as well as you use it, and all without destroying your fingers.
Overall, these are good stripping guards that are available at a really cheap price, so they're a great way to get started. However, given they are some of the cheapest stripping guards you can buy, they do wear down and stretch over time. Additionally, some find that other guards are actually better at preventing cuts, which is likely a result of the materials used in the overall design. Nevertheless, these are still good stripping guards that are worth trying if you want to keep the cost as low as possible.
- Highly effective
- Cleans, conditions, and preserves fly line
- Can be used to remove memory from line
- Might not fit those with the largest hands
- Can be hard to find at local shops
The Stripee Fly Line Cleaners are the same thing as stripping guards, the company just chooses to market their product slightly differently. While these stripping guards don't look overly fancy, they are certainly effective, which is what really matters.
These stripping guards cover your index and middle fingers and they only have as much material as they need. That being said, they still offer great protection, as they also add an additional layer of felt padding where the line is most likely to glide by.
A nice benefit of these stripping guards is that the can clean and condition your line in the process of using them, which helps preserve the lifespan of your line. Additionally, they are also effective at removing memory from the line, which can be a nice change of pace if you've been using the same spool of line for quite a while.
Overall, these are excellent stripping guards that are minimal in design, but hefty in performance. While they are a little more expensive than the Buff Pro Series stripping guards, they are a bit more durable and do a better job protecting your fingers from your line. Some anglers with really big hands find it hard to get a big enough size, as these stripping guards aren't the most popular, but they're great for most hand sizes.
- Can be worn on left or right hand
- Adjustable elastic band and Velcro design
- Superior protection of index finger
- Neoprene material
- Very affordable
- Only protects index finger
- Break in period to regain feel for line
This is a different take on stripping guards, whereby you actually use a strap around your wrist, and the guard extends down your index finger. If your index finger is all you need to protect, then this is a pretty cool design, but if you need multiple fingers protected, you will have to look for a different design.
The material is neoprene, which is highly popular among any water sport. It incorporates non-slip technology so you don't have to keep adjusting it while fishing, and the finger tip where the line runs over is quite thick and very protective.
The trade-off here with the better finger protection is less feel for the line. This means there is a break-in period to regain that feel for the line, or at least gain a better sense of the force you're applying compared to bare hands, and how much tension there is on the line.
Overall, this is a cool design for stripping guards, and it is certainly effective in protecting your index finger, but again, that's all it will protect. The break-in period can be a bit of a pain, but usually this is resolved after one good day of casting.
Why do you need stripping guards?
Unless your hands are torn to shreds, stripping guards won't change your chances of landing a nice trophy, so we don't consider them to be absolutely necessary. However, they certainly can enhance the overall experience of casting your line, especially if you have been fly fishing more often than usual.
As most fly anglers know, lots of casting will eventually lead to cuts and nicks from the line. When it can really be a problem for some anglers is when they attempt to set the hook and slice their fingers on the line, or when fighting a large fish that requires lots of patience and feel for the line.
So why not just just wear gloves or fashion your own stripping guards from material you might have around the house? Both of these are certainly legitimate options; however, many anglers avoid gloves because they still want some feel for the line, and some actually find them too heavy to warrant prolonged use in the water. As for creating your own stripping guards, this is definitely possible and can help protect your fingers, but the material that companies use is often good for you line, as it can clean and condition in while you cast and retrieve.
Healing Hand Cream for Anglers
We're going to go slightly off topic here and suggest one item that could be really worthwhile if you think you still prefer to go bare-handed when fly fishing. A relative got me this O'Keeffe's Working Hands healing hand cream after I had spent a weekend removing shrubs from a neighbors property, and it was actually awesome. I don't use it often, but it's great to have around the house. I find I don't usually use it during the day, but instead, I put some on at night while I sleep, and boom - healed! A bonus is that it doesn't smell at all either. I haven't used this after fishing yet, but the way my hands and forearms looked after removing shrubs, I think it will do just fine.
At the end of the day, stripping guards aren't absolutely necessary, but at such a low cost and small footprint, they can be really handy items to have if you want to prevent cuts and scrapes from your line, while also cleaning your line in the process. It would be a stretch to say this will make you catch more and bigger fish. Instead, you could think of stripping guards as contributing to an overall great fishing experience!