There will always be fishing situations that we have no control over which will result in losing a fish. It hurts, especially when it’s a big fish, but it happens it’s part of the sport. What we can have control over is making sure that we don’t lose fish because of faulty equipment. Spending some of your off water time taking care of your fishing tools will help you spend your on-water time being a more productive angler. Let’s take a look at some ways to care for fishing equipment.
Even though a fishing rod is nothing more than a lever it does have components that need to be checked. Start with your rod handles they should be glued down firmly and not be able to spin around the blank. Are the handles smooth enough to not cause blisters during a days fishing use? Make sure that the reel seat is glued in place and not cracked. Do all the screw down parts work smoothly and hold the reel tightly in place? Examine each guide and the tip making sure that none are cracked and that the thread wraps holding the guides in place are not torn or frayed. Check to see if the tip is loose and that all guides and tips are in line with the center of the reel seat.
Take a cotton swab and run it through the eye of the guides and tip. If it hangs up in the eye of the guide then that guide should be replaced because it can fray your line causing it to break. With a two-piece rod the ferrule should come apart and go together smoothly and easily. It may need a light sanding and a good coat of vaseline. Lastly, take a real close look at the rod blank. A nick in a graphite rod is a stress point that can cause the rod to break at that spot.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking your reels apart for cleaning, don’t. Take them to your local tackle shop and have them cleaned and lubed for you. If you do work on your own reels, here are some good tips. Fishing in sea is a great adventure.
- Use a piece of foam rubber or carpet as a work surface. Round parts will not roll off the work area.
- Paper cups make excellent containers for holding small parts. You can spray silicone right into the cup to clean and degrease the parts.
- To clean real tough areas on metal gears, try a bit of tooth paste and a tooth brush. Make sure that all of the paste has been removed before you lube the reel.
- When working on drags, make certain that you keep the washers in their proper order. Try stacking them in the order they came out, first on the bottom etc.
- To lubricate your reels always use the finest lubricant that you can find.
Bill George, a professional tournament angler from Wallingford Ct., gives up one of his reel care secrets.
“I’ve been using a reel lube for a while now that not too many people are familiar with but is the best that I have ever used. My reels are the smoothest that they have ever been, it’s called X-lR reel lube. The lube has a viscosity that will not loosen up in the hot weather and will not get too stiff in cold temperatures.”
After the reel is back together, don’t forget to lubricate external moving parts such as handle knobs, bail pivot points and anti-reverse levers. A well kept reel should last for many years.
Line breaks are a common cause of lost fish. People who do not change their line are looking to not catch fish. I’m not telling you to change your line every time you go fishing but you should start the season off with fresh new line on your reels. Strip about 100 yards of old line from the spool and use the rest of the old line as backing. Fill the spool all the way to the lip, you’ll get more casting distance. Always check your line for nicks and rough spots, cut the line off about a foot above these areas to lessen the chance of a line break. The knot is the weakest point between you and the fish. Learn to tie a good knot and retie frequently.
No matter what style or brand of hook you use, KEEP THEM SHARP. Sharpen all of your hooks over the winter months and carry a hook file or stone with you to touch them up when you are fishing.
Spend time going over your lures. Change ripped skirts, replace bent treble hooks and broken swivels. Try adding a small amount of baby oil to plastic worms that are getting dried out. Get rid of lures with broken lips they don’t work and they take up valuable space in your tackle box. For me, the time that I spend each winter getting my gear ready is like an early start to the fishing season. It’s a time that lets me remember the fish that I caught last season and lets me look ahead and think about the fish that I’ll catch this coming season. It’s also a time that helps me to be sure that I will spend more time fishing and less time fixing.
Have a great fishing year and remember Catch, Photo and release. Help preserve the sport for future generations.