Winter fishing gear maintenance projects – Wired2Fish
As the winter cold hits most of the country, fishermen are starting to get cabin fever and are looking for ways to get their dose of bass fishing which may or may not include fishing. Winter is a great time to take care of the little things that will make spring even better.
There are several things we do every winter that we thought we could pass on to help Wired readers stay ahead of spring and have all of their gear in tip top shape when the weather turns bad.
Winter is a great time to take care of your reels. There are several great reel cleaning and maintenance kits available, but we prefer the Ardent Reel Kleen Cleaning Kit. It contains everything you need to return your favorite reel to “like new” condition including reel butter oil and grease, Reel Clean, multi-tool screwdriver, cleaning pads, brush and a silicone treated towel. It also gives instructions so that even a novice can maintain their own coils.
Maintenance of the reel includes both the exterior and interior of the reel. We usually start on the inside, where the gears and springs need lubrication. We include all moving parts and anglers should be aware that some parts need grease and some need oil, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Once the reel is lubricated, we also work very hard on the outside of the reel. Now is a good time to strip the old line down to a support that will be ready for the new line in the spring. Also loosen the drag on the spool. We coat the substrate with Line and Lure Conditioner and it is ready to use.
If you are like most of the fishermen in the country, you probably have more gear than you can use in your life. Winter is the perfect time to get organized. We have several ways of doing this. We use perforated panels like Alligator Board to hang the most used baits. Five to six bundles on a peg, then put the rest in plastic jars. Each pot is labeled by bait, company, and type and it’s important to replenish any bait removed from the stakes each time. We also count every color and type and use the computer to keep track of what we have and what we need. It might seem like a ton of work, but when done it allows the fisherman to buy only what he needs and not buy on a whim.
The inventory includes everything. Plastic baits, hard baits, hooks, line, terminal equipment and boxes. We keep a supply of Plano 3700 boxes on hand to build travel boxes by location for spring. Even though we have bags, the best access comes out of a box and we use the boat as a giant tackle box. The additional bags are stored in fishing bags labeled for each product. We put a box of Senko’s and Skinny Dippers in one box, Traps and Shad Raps in another and jigs and trailers in another. We also include a box for 3 or 4 types of spinnerbaits and a box for small hardbaits. These three boxes can be placed in a single tackle bag with hook and terminal tackle box and you are good to go.
It is also important to take an inventory of your tools at this time of year as well. Scissors, pliers, clippers and a small pocket knife are essential items in this bag.
One tip we also used is a small deck box with some of the bait you’ll be using for the day. It’s an easy way to have everything close at hand and not having to dig into a compartment when you’re in a rush. This box works well with velcro on the underside of the box with a latch. It slips and temporarily attaches to the mat. Note: Be sure to move the box on the boat floor when running!
Working on baits
Winter is not only a good time to take inventory, but it’s also a good time to work on individual baits. We love to go through each one, change the hooks if necessary and with a good 4.5 inch Luhr Jenson file add a point if necessary. A general rule of thumb though is, if a hook is bent or if a hook tip is turned …. Replace the hook. We use different VMC, Mustad and Gamakatsu hooks based on replacement requests and they can be purchased in bulk.
Spinnerbaits can also be changed in winter. New skirts may be needed, so replace them. If the skirt is held together with a rubber ring, use a light thread like that used for hanging pictures and tie the skirt by hand. Nothing is more maddening than pulling out a spinnerbait and seeing the skirt fall apart. The blades can also be polished now. We use a chrome padding material called Nevr Dull and it can make an old blade look like new again. It protects and cleans. A small, soft polishing cloth should be used after padding to restore shine to the blades.
Every winter we wipe down every stalk. We use a non-abrasive soap on the cork and a protector like Bow to Stern on the stems. Check each guide with a cotton swab for abrasions and replace the bad guides. The reel seat should also be wiped clean and use the BTS as well. BTS is safe for the environment and leaves no residue.
It is good to loosen the drag on reels held on rods and remove all bait. It is not recommended to keep a folded cane during the winter.
Store loose rods in a 5 gallon bucket first or purchase a rod rack. We always keep the packaging of the cane for the wintering. Simply slide the open package onto the rod and it will remain dust free.
By doing the things mentioned above, you will find that they work best in spring, and winter is faster as well. Spring is fast approaching!