With summer now gone and fall turning into winter, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a climate where you can fish year round, it’s time to prepare our gear for winter storage. Taking care of your tackle, rods and reels will ensure your gear lasts for many years.
- Tackle storage bag/tackle boxes should be emptied, wiped down and inspected for any holes and damage.
- I start by removing all hooks, split rings and any damaged parts from my lures, then I place them in the top rack of the dishwasher and wash them without soap (just hot water). Do not use the drying cycle as this will ruin most lures. Do not put balsa or other wooden lures in the dishwasher, these need to be washed by hand.
- After your lures have dried, install new split rings and reinstall the hooks, a good set of split ring pliers is a great investment and will make this job much easier.
- Once everything is cleaned, organized and ready to be put back into your tackle bag or box, this is a great time to take inventory and replenish any stock you may need (plus the end of season sales help keep costs down).
- Rods should be wiped down and cleaned using Penn rod & reel cleaner.
- Your handle should be scrubbed and the reel seat oiled. Running a Q-Tip or panty hose through the eyes will show any small cracks that may be there. How maddening would it be to lose the fish of your dreams because of a small crack in one of your eyes? Replace any eyes with cracks or if you do not know how to or don’t want to, take your rod into a shop for repair.
- Reels should be cleaned, taken apart and oiled prior to storage with special care taken to not lose any parts. Bait casters, for example, have so many small intricate parts that my fat fingers always seem to lose. I highly recommend taking them into a professional for service, in my mind it’s worth every penny to have a tech complete the cleaning. One quick note, its best to get into the reel repair shop at the beginning of winter, most shops get busy just before the open water season and you could end up waiting weeks.
- Since I prefer to start every year with fresh braid and fluorocarbon, I dispose of all line as per local regulations, I take mine into a local fishing store that has a line collection bin. The only way I can afford to buy new braided and fluorocarbon line every year, is to stock up around Christmas & Boxing Day (if you’re in Canada) this is usually when my local shops are blowing out their open water gear & supplies, it’s a great time to refill the tackle box, or buy that fish finder you’ve been drooling over all year.
Now with all your gear, cleaned, oiled and maintained its time to store it, lay your rods down flat to prevent bowing or potential drop damage, release all drag on your reels which prevents unnecessary stress on the mechanism. Next time we will discuss getting ready for the ice fishing season, we will be covering the dos & don’ts of ice fishing, safety and new gear, tips and tricks for you to find those hard to reach fish and locations.