Winter Workshop: Keeping your Gear in Ship Shape

reel service

by Mitch Buck

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]inter is officially upon us and angling opportunities are limited this time of year, unless you are an ice fisherman.  It is a good time to perform annual maintenance on your gear if you haven’t done so already. You don’t want to grab your gear during the first run of the spring, only to find your reel seized, rod corroded, and lures rusted. Here are some tips to keep your gear in tip-top shape:

Wash all your gear, including rods, reels, and lures, with a gentle spray, such as a shower spray, so you don’t force water into the reel. Be sure to tighten the drag on your reels before rinsing to keep water from getting into the drag stack. Afterwards, wipe your gear down with a rag and allow it to air dry.

Further maintenance is required after the gear has dried. I wipe down rods with WD-40 and a rag to remove any gunk and give them a nice shine. Check guides for cracks or chips by swirling a cue tip inside the ring of the guide. If the cotton sticks to any part of the guide ring then you know the guide is damaged and it should be replaced. Chipped guides can fray line and most tackle shops can handle the repair.

Reels take more maintenance. Every year I completely strip down, clean, and grease each of my reels. A reel schematic is a must for disassembling a reel and can be obtained from the manufacturer’s website or an internet search. Once the reel is disassembled, use a degreaser, such as nontoxic Simple Green, and a rag or brush to remove the old grease. Check for broken parts or signs of wear. Bearings are the most common part to wear or corrode, and are easily obtainable from a tackle shop or the manufacturer. When rebuilding a reel a good rule of thumb to follow is that grease goes in gears and oil goes in bearings. I grease all the screw threads to ensure that they the screws won’t be frozen next season. I also like to wipe a thin coat of grease over exposed metal surfaces inside the reel to ward off corrosion.

Inspect your lures for corrosion, worn paint, and broken parts. Replace any rusted or damaged hooks and split rings. I recommend upgrading to quality hooks, such as VMCs, which help to hook and land more fish. I like to add single siwash hooks to the rear of many plugs in place of trebles. Lures should be washed, dried, and wiped down with WD-40 to clean gunk and ward of corrosion. The hair on bucktail jigs can be renewed by washing them with a mild shampoo such as Pert Plus. Only after my lures are dried, clean, and sporting new bling do I store them in plastic trays for the off season.