With the temperature down and the fishing slowed, now is the time to ramp up your conditioning of tackle for the coming spring. And while it might not seem different from checks of salt water tackle, there are some slight changes.
One check should be of line on all your reels. In fresh water, you seldom have a fish take you almost down to the spool hub in making runs. Thus, much of the line on your reel is still fine and should not have suffered any wear or damage. Add new line. The best selection in line is always the top quality premium brand, but you don’t have to replace all the line on each reel spool.
To check this out, make a long cast in the backyard with a practice plug, then strip off another twenty feet and cut the line. Throw away all the old line and replace it with new premium line. Join the two line ends with a Uni or blood knot and closely trim the ends of the knot. This will give you plenty of new premium line for casting and playing fish, with the added insurance of the old line for those occasions when a fish makes a longer than normal run.
If you are handy with repair and maintenance and still have the reel manual, take each reel and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean, oil and grease it for the coming season. Often this means oil lightly around the handle and other moving parts and grease on things like the innards of a spinning reel (gearing), the gearing of casting reels and the level wind mechanism. At the same time, be sure to check the drag and grease that if necessary.
It is also good to check the contents of you tackle box. Often hooks for freshwater fishing are bronzed and can rust, unlike stainless or nickel-plated saltwater hooks. Remove any rusted hooks and replace them with new stock. Rusted hooks on lures are easily replaced with split ring pliers that allow removal of old hooks by opening a split ring and at the same time, adding a new hook. Touch up hooks with a hone or file for sure hooking of that trophy this spring.
This is also a good time to check any lures for damage or wear. One way to spruce them up a little is to spray the lure body with a clear finish, sprinkle on some glitter and then add a second protective coat of clear finish. This will liven up crankbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or any other lure.
At the same time, check out landing nets, although most today have nylon netting that will not rot. Make sure that your fishing pliers work and add a spot of grease to the joint if necessary.
Check any other tackle and make sure that it is like new and ready to go when you hit the first day of spring and you want to get out there—right now.