Over breakfast recently, a group of us old salts were discussing future plans. Since most of us are retired, our enthusiasm was tempered due to one circumstance or another.
One among the group had plans for RV travel, but kidney stones held him back. The golfer wanted to play more often but was handicapped with bad knees. The hunter's eyesight was so poor he had all but given up the sport. Most of the fishermen and their stories were fading as fast as their memories.
When all had spoken, I was asked if there were any pursuits in my future. Fishing, hunting, golf and travel were so much a part of my life I hadn't really thought of changing anything, just doing more of it.
About then, the clergyman mentioned my book and wondered how it was progressing. I simply replied that I had numbered the pages quite easily -- it's the words that seem to be giving me trouble.
A few weeks past I mentioned getting your boat ready for the season. Now let's concentrate on your equipment.
Often the smallest things make a big difference.
If your rods and reels were shoved in a corner after your last outing, you will need to go over them more thoroughly. On the chance that you did a bit of homework and took better care of your gear, an operations check is needed.
Check the handle, making sure it turns freely, and check the drag. If your reel was stored with the drag tightened, you may need to replace drag washers. Check the level wind (if equipped) and make sure there are no sharp edges on the spool guides. Make sure the spool is well seated on both sides if using a conventional reel; If using a spinning reel, be sure the lock mechanism is working properly.
Fly reels need less maintenance but their lines need more attention. Fly lines should never be stored on the reel, as they easily develop a set or memory. If this is the case, you may need to replace your line. Always remove lines from fly reels and store in loose coils for future use.
If you need to clean your line -- be it fly, monofilament, braided or otherwise -- use light dish detergent. Examine your line by pulling it through a cotton ball, which will show any nicks, abrasions or rough spots.
Newer lines are stronger, more durable and often abrasive. Guides and rod tips tend to become worn and expose sharp edges or grooves which can cut even the strongest lines. Once again, using a cotton ball around your guides and rod tips, the fibers will expose areas of concern. Check the windings or guide wraps as well as the rod tip and any sections that have ferrules. If threads are worn or loose, replace them or add a drop of clear nail polish.
Broken wraps or guides that are bent need to be replaced. A guide that has become misaligned can be pushed back in place and a quick epoxy repair should hold until more advanced repairs can be made.
If your rods were stored vertically (leaning in a corner), they may have developed a slight curve. If the curve is on the same side as the guides you may not have any problem. If the curve is on the opposite side you may risk the danger of separation. You may not know the extent (if any), until the strength of the rod is put to test. All rods have a spine. With conventional rods (i.e., casting), the spine is on the same side as the guides. Spinning rods will be just the opposite.
Storage close to a hot water heater and temperature extremes will weaken rods.
Many anglers have like rods, and when separated, become mismatched. Match each section with a marker when they are separated or stored for extended periods.
That old fishing cap may be due for an oil change, but it would be hard to imagine a trip without it. All of us have our favorites. It may be that old cap or a treasured lure passed down from one generation to the next. Whatever the item or the circumstance of our dedication, they need care to ensure future use.
Check tackle box handles, trays and compartments and clean regularly. Check waders and vests for rips, tears or holes. Check hooks, pliers and knives for rust. Check your hooks for sharpness, and that your lure's eyes or dive lip has not gotten twisted or broken. Shiny spoons can be made brighter with a bit of lemon juice and aluminum foil. Knife edges can be honed easily with just a few strokes on a whetstone or through a sharpener.
TACKLE TIP: LEADERS
Often I am asked what I prefer when choosing material to rig leaders. It's a matter of personal preference but, as a rule of thumb, single strand wire is your best all-around choice.
Single strand wire has the smallest diameter but has more tendency to crimp, which weakens wire. The larger diameter stranded leaders are more resistant to kinks and crimping but are harder to rig.
There are those who swear by one and swear at the other. The key is confidence in what you are using.