It’s Gear Time

The 2020 fishing season is finally coming to an end. Yes, it is almost the 2021 season but fishing been so good, who could complain about the long season. Well now that we have a breather, let’s talk about gear maintenance.

Fishing equipment maintenance is one project that should not be ignored. As we get close again to the start of the spring 2021 fishing season, now is the time to complete those unfinished jobs. If you let things go until now from the previous season, the job may take a little more effort but needs to be done to ensure a trouble free season kick off.

First, a complete evaluation should be done on the rod and reels. If there is any damage, minor cracks or even corrosion on either the rod or reel, it might be better to replace them now.

Disassembling the reel from the rod will permit a thorough examination and allow for cleaning. Check the butt, reel seat, guides and tip. If everything checks out, move on the reel.

The reel should be disassembled and thoroughly cleaned and oiled. Replace any damaged or worn parts. The drag washer should also be checked. And if found warned, either order a new one from the manufacturer or have a tackle shop replace it for you.

Many types of lures and hard bait hooks may not survive more than a year so focus closely on these items. Rusty rings, tangled lines or damaged components can result in potential loss of the catch. Sometimes it’s cheaper to replace the entire lure unless it’s your ‘go-to” catching machine. Then it’s an easy decision to just replace the hooks and rings. One tip: go with a single hook replacement and try to get away from those treble hooks. Makes for an easier release.

Tackle boxes and bags habitually get cluttered over the season with many of those “I must have those” gadgets or maybe the “favor of the month” lure. And even gear attached to leaders that were quickly changed out and too valuable to discard.

Your best option is empty the bag, sort through what’s salvageable and toss the rest.

Sinkers, loose terminal tackle, swivels, extra leader materials should be placed in separate containers for easy access next season. I like to use old plastic medicine jars or even z-lock baggies.

Pliers, scissors, line cutters, fish grabbers should be cleaned or at least organized in its proper place for quick access in the spring.

Remove all batteries on any electronic gear such as bait bubblers, night lights and bug zappers. It is good to look for battery corrosion. Sometimes you can clean the acid but best to replace completely.

Because most anglers have their own special fishing collections, I am sure we missed something but that’s what the offseason is for.

It is imperative that you address those issues before they cost you that trophy species next year.

Knives should be cleaned, sharpened, oiled and placed in a sheaths for protection. I typically only keep a bait knife in the bag and leave the filet knives for cleaning fish.

Large items such as coolers, cast nets, pier carts, cutting boards, rod holders and other large pieces need a good flushing, wiped off and stored properly. A mixture of beach and water does wonder in removing stains.

Finally, all metal surfaces should be coated with a rods, reels or other gear with an anti-corrosion protectant. Using a good protectant oil is well worth the expense.

Remember, the off season is the best time to find and replace worn or defective gear or equipment.  

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Mid-Season Check

Semi-annual gear checks are always a great way to keep your equipment “catch ready”!

We are now half way through the fishing season. Our gear has probably taken a real beating from the sand, salt and of course catching. So now is a good time to examine the condition of our gear.

When doing a seasonal check, it’s smart to first check the rod and reels. Look at the rod first. Check the rod, guides, tip, reel seat and butt. Check for loose or worn guides, any cracks or corrosion. Replace any loose or defective items now.

Next, the rod needs a good cleaning. It’s best to use a mild detergent over the entire rod assembly. After cleaning, spray a good anti-corrosion coating or even standard furniture polish. Focus on the guides. Try to keep the anti-corrosion spray off the butt and handles. Use a dry non-abrasive cloth to wipe off any excess spray.

Next you need to check the reels. Wipe off any obvious dirt, sand or debris from the reel. Make sure the bail operation is smooth. Disassemble spool, spindle and handle from the body. Check the surface of each. Use small bulb air blower or a Q-tip with a little oil to wipe away any sand or corrosion.

Check the drag washer. As a general rule, the drag knob should always be loose during storage. Many anglers will tighten the drag knob to help secure the line and rigging on the fishing rod. This can cause the drag washer to compress and be damaged.

Once everything is clean, apply a little reel grease to the inside components. This keeps the gear lubricated and moisture and dirt out.

After inspecting the gears and all of the other components are clean, re-assemble everything the same way you took it apart. Make sure you install the washers and “O” rings. If you find either of these damaged, this is the time to replace them.

Once the reel is re-assembled, apply a good coat of reel oil. This will keep corrosion and dirt from sticking to the surfaces. Never leave wet oil on the surface. Just apply and wipe off. Make sure you get the oil into the smallest openings.

If you find any part of your gear that is defective or worn, this is the time to repair or replace. The fall fishing season can be typically more brutal on the gear with many larger fish moving into the surf zones.

Replacement parts are usually available from the manufacturers for the DIYer’s. Also the schematic documentation that came with the reel may assist with cleaning and parts replacements.

Confused about doing the gear and equipment maintenance yourself? Many tackle shops and reel repair companies have professional staffs to assist.

Periodic maintenance is cheap insurance. There should be no excuse for losing that trophy fish due to faulty gear or poor maintenance, It’s simple to do on our own or readily available by professionals in your region.

Good Luck and Great Fishing.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony