Proper Equipment Maintenance

This is typically the time of year in which the weather can knock fishermen off the water for a few days at a time. Sure the delay can be frustrating, but it is also an opportunity to catch up on some much-needed equipment maintenance. Now is the time to get things in proper working order. Spending a little time on maintenance now can result in more productive hours on the water when it counts.

Each piece of equipment should be inspected and repaired. Old or lost equipment should be replaced. Leaders, lures and flies should be stocked. In general, everything should be accounted for and checked to ensure proper functioning.

Rods need relatively little maintenance. However, a toothbrush and soapy water will restore the "new" look to the cork grip and will remove any sand or corrosion on the reel seat. Lightly coating the threads on the reel seat with oil will prevent it from "locking up." Check the ceramic inserts on rod guides. Any cracks or chips could cause abrasion or line breakage. It also pays to wax the ferrules on multi-piece rods to ensure proper seating.

Hopefully, the reel has been cleaned prior to storage. If not, wash with soapy water and rinse thoroughly. A dab of grease should be applied to the gears and any external moving parts, such as reel handles. Once that is done, check the drag for any rough spots. To do this, loosen the drag completely and pull a few feet of line off. Increase the tension slightly and pull some more line off. Continue to increase tension and pull line, feeling for any "stutter" or "stick" in the drag. It is not necessary to go to the maximum adjustment. Go only as far as you think you will have the drag set while fishing.

If the drag is sticking, it is best to have the drag washers replaced. This can usually be handled at the dealer where the reel was purchased. If not, replacement drags can be ordered from the manufacturer and some tackle retailers. Once the testing and maintenance is complete, loosen the drag completely before storing.

Monofilament on spinning and casting reels should be replaced. Leaders and tippets on fly line should also be discarded. Fly line backing should be fine if it is less than five years old and has not been in contact with any abrasive surfaces such as jetty rocks, pilings, etc.

Fly line, on the other hand, should be checked closely for any cracks or chaffing. Cracks in the coating of a fly line will allow water to seep in and saturate the core material. As a result, sections of a floating line will sink. In addition, cracks or rough spots will increase friction as the line passes through the guides. If the line is still smooth and supple, it should be dressed. Any line that is cracked and brittle should be replaced.

Check lures and flies for rusty or dull hooks. It doesn't hurt to sharpen or touch-up hook points , regardless of how often they have been used. Take note of which "favorite" lures are low and make it a point to buy some more.

Don't forget to check all of the accessories. Snips, forceps and needle-nose pliers should be checked for rust and sharpness. Make sure the wading boots can hold out for another year and that sunglasses can be found.

It is often helpful to go through the motions of getting ready for a trip, just to make sure everything is where it needs to be.
Although tackle prep is not as fun as actually being on the water, the effort always pays off. It is better to trade a marginal fishing day to prepare than run out of something on that perfect day.

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