Fishing Tackle

Spring Cleaning Your Fishing Equipment

As winter begins to fade, and the many sport shows gets anglers fired up for the upcoming spring season, anglers everywhere begin to ready their equipment for the upcoming season.

When it comes to importance, the tools you use to catch fish can make or break your day when out on the water. With this in mind, I’ve devised this simple checklist for getting your gear ready and in top condition for optimum performance. Think of it as kind of like spring cleaning the house, but this is much more enjoyable and rewarding!

Rods And Reels
Your rods and reels take a lot of abuse over the course of a fishing season, yet they are often overlooked when it come to proper maintenance and care. This can be costly, as a breakdown in one of these components could cause you to lose that trophy fish of a lifetime.

Let’s start with your rods. A visual inspection of the rod itself is an important part of the spring cleaning process. Keep an eye out for cracks, breaks or weak spots that may result in poor performance or complete failure. If damage is present, it’s time to repair or replace the rod altogether.

Another area to inspect is the rod guides. Take a cotton ball or Q-Tip and run it around each and every guide. If any cotton remains intact, your guide has a rough spot or burr, which will ultimately lead to a frayed and broken line. Replace any suspect guides for your own peace of mind.

Sand paper works wonders for sprucing up grimy cork handles. Use a high grit paper such as 220, and watch the magic happen before your very eyes.

Rod handles can also be spruced up before the upcoming season. If the cork on your rod is full of dirt and grime, simply rub some fine grit sandpaper (220 works best for me) along the length of it to get it looking like new again.

The last step I like to take is to wash the entire rod with mild soap and water and a soft-sided sponge. This will take off any water spots or dirt build-up from the previous year, and will leave your rod looking spiffy and full of shine.

Reels are an integral part of your fishing set-up and should never be overlooked. Start with a visual inspection, keeping a close eye out for broken, loose or worn parts. Areas of concern should be the bail spring, washers, handle and the drag. The next step is to take a small screwdriver or Allen wrench (key) and tighten all of the mechanisms. You’d be surprised how loose some of these screws get over the course of a season!

Lubrication should be next on your list. And by following the manufacturer’s instructions, it should be easy to do. One piece of advice is to go sparingly on the grease or oil — when it comes to reels, a little is usually better than a lot.

Unless you are using one of the superlines or braids, your monofilament fishing line should be stripped from the reel and replaced. Old line can weaken over time due to the elements, so starting off the season with fresh line is always important. Finish the reel off with a quick soap and water wipe down, and you’re ready to take on your tackle box.

Tackle Box
To some anglers it can be a scary proposition opening your tackle box in the spring, unsure of the state you left it in the previous fall. Regardless of what lurks inside, the first step to take is to dump everything out.

Much like you would do with the dishes, place your tackle box in the kitchen or laundry sink and give it a good cleaning and rinse it. Dish-washing liquid works great for this. Place your clean box on towels and allow it to dry thoroughly before placing anything else inside it.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the lures and baits. Look closely at each individual lure for signs of cracking, worn or broken lips and bent or rusty hooks. If a lure is cracked or is missing parts, it’s time to toss it into the garbage can. If the hooks are extremely dull, bent or rusted, replacement is your only option. Excalibur and Owner make excellent replacement trebles that are both sticky sharp and strong — I like to replace most of my damaged metal with these high-quality hooks.

Plastic baits will need your attention. Worn or ripped baits should be discarded, as should any torn or grimy storage bags. Zippered plastic sandwich bags are great for storing plastics in because the see-through plastic quickly tells you what’s in the bag.

Get Rid Of “Virgin” Lures
How many of us have lures and baits in our boxes that haven’t been used in years? We’re all guilty of hanging on to tackle for the sake of hanging on to it, although all it really accomplishes is wasted space.

Take out all of these “virgin” lures and try to sell them, or better yet, pass them on to a child who I’m certain would love to give them some use.

Once your tackle has all been sorted and put back into your box, it’s now time to take an inventory. Make a list of lures that you are missing or that need to be replaced, and make it a priority to get them replaced ASAP.

Don’t forget to check on the status of hooks, weights and other terminal tackle. The last thing you want to do is start the season off missing some vital tackle that will help you catch fish.

Take the time to ensure that the battery in your electronic scale is still functional.

Miscellaneous Maintenance
1. Check to see that your net and/or cradle are in good-working condition and free of holes and rips.

2. Oil and lubricate your pliers and hook removers, or replace if needed.

3. Check on your fish scent and add to your collection if supplies are running low.

4. Give your fishing glasses a good cleaning, and check for cracks or breakage.

5. Replace batteries in electronic scale if necessary.

6. Treat yourself to a new fishing hat — you deserve it!

Spring cleaning your fishing equipment will help to eliminate the chance of mechanical breakdown while out on the water. It also ensures that your time spent fishing will be as productive and enjoyable as possible. Have fun sorting through your gear this spring, and have a productive and safe fishing season.

Be sure to shop for fishing gear at Sportsman’s Guide.

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