Winter. Some people absolutely dread it. I saw an ice-covered pond a few days ago and morning frost has been pretty consistent lately. My winter jacket is back in rotation on the coat rack along with gloves and tuques.
The good news for some is that I don’t think winter will arrive any time in the very near future, but nonetheless it’s not a bad time to think about maintenance on your retired-for-the-season fishing equipment.
Maintenance doesn’t mean I’m throwing in the towel by any means; there’s still plenty of fish to chase and some are in their peak season. I embrace the seasons Canada has to offer and I feel each brings unique experiences.
Taking the proper steps can prolong the lifetime of your gear and prevent any nasty surprises come spring.
- Break It Down: Remove fishing lures and check line for abrasions and discoloration. Any spools with monofilament or fluorocarbon should generally be stripped and discarded. These lines are damaged by UV rays and wear and tear, which causes them to break down over the course of the season depending on how much use they get. Braided lines tend to hold up better over time and can generally last multiple seasons if cared for properly. Good signs that it’s time to replace braided line are noticeable fading, nicks and fraying.
I don’t know about you, but throughout the season I tend to throw random lures in random places out of convenience. By the end of the season, my tackle boxes look nothing like they did at the beginning. After removing your lures, it’s a great opportunity to sort, inspect and clean lures. You could go as far as swapping out any old or rusty hooks if you feel so inclined. A great way to protect your precious selection of lures from rust in the off-season is to add rust-inhibiting patches/chips to your tackle boxes. Some of the popular brands are Bull Frog, Zerust and Inhibitor VCI.
- Tune It Up: Reels play such an important part of casting and landing fish, so it’s only natural to ensure they’re in tip-top shape each season. Start by removing the reels from the rods. Give your reels a quick wipedown with a damp towel or cloth to remove any accumulated crud and gunk. This is an opportune time to take apart your reels to clean and lube them. Some high-quality reel oil and grease, rags, Q-Tips and an old toothbrush are the basic items you’ll need for this task. With so many reels on the market, it’s best to refer to your manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly disassemble and maintain them. Thankfully, there are also a number of YouTube instructional videos to help with the process if you’re unfamiliar. Once completed, it’s important to remember to back the drags off completely to ensure they don’t seize up due to sitting for a long period of time under pressure. It may sound like a tedious task, but it’s worth it to ensure your reels are performing at their best when the time comes.
- Polish It Off: Rods don’t usually get a lot of thought when maintenance time comes around, but they’re also a crucial element when it comes to success on the water. Remove any built-up grime from the blank and grip with a damp cloth and a mild detergent. It’s also a good idea to clean and inspect the guides with a Q-Tip. Dirty guides increase friction as line passes them, which in turn can decrease casting distance and cause other issues. Running a Q-Tip through each guide can also help spot any damage to the inserts. A scratched, chipped or cracked insert can increase the likelihood of a line break and could very well cost you the catch of a lifetime. Q-Tips tend to “catch” on any such imperfections when cleaning guides.
Although I’ve begun to store away some equipment, other gear is beginning to see the light of day again. Another season changes and it’s time to layer up and enjoy.
Follow Ashley Rae at www.SheLovesToFish.com.