November is a transitional time of year. Anglers in the northern tier are pulling out tip ups, ice augurs, and other winter fishing gear. Momma always said pick up after ourselves, and that means it's time to properly store our fly, conventional and bait gear. Here's how to maintain your fishing gear in 5 easy steps before you move on to winter fishing.
1. Fishing Tackle Repair
Rod tip tops, guides, reel seats, and cork grips should be inspected and repaired. If your guides are ceramic then inspect them for nicks. Examine stainless steel guides for grooves. Replace as necessary as those nicks and grooves will fray line. Leaky waders should be thoroughly dried, patched, and hung for storage. Wash net baskets to remove remaining fish slime.
2. Fishing Tackle Maintenance
Clean rod blanks and cork grips to remove fish slime, suntan lotion, and blood. Lubricate the threads and locking rings on reel seats and dry thoroughly before storing in closed cases. Clean reels and grease gears. Light oil is best for parts that need to spin easily (like spool shafts on baitcasting reels and crankshafts on all reels) while grease is better for gears. Loosen all drags.
3. Make a few fishing tackle kit
Wader patch kit consisting of patch material and glue is great to have for on the spot repairs. A rod repair kit with spare tip tops and guides is another idea.
4. Next year's fishing preparation
Examine your tackle box and replace any lost or rusted items like pliers, forceps, cutters, tape measures and the like. While your tackle box is disassembled, pull out your split ring pliers and replace worn or rusted split rings and hooks. As you repack your box think about reorganizing it, too. What items did you use a lot that you couldn't easily access? What items didn't you use that were in the prime space? Repack with a new order that will make next year easier.
5. How to maintain your fishing tackle properly
If you're new to fishing then find an experienced angler to help you with cleaning and repairs. Or head to a tackle shop as most guys in the shop will let you watch them work.
Take care of your fishing gear and your gear will take care of you.
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits. When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.