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Check Your Tackle Before Venturing Into the Spring Tides

It was a few days until I left for the first extended fishing trip to the coast this spring, but the excitement had already set in. I found myself making a list and checking it twice. While gathering up rods, reels, tackle, and gear, it helped to jog my memory and take note about what gear needed to be checked, cleaned, and tended to. I wanted to be sure my fishing tackle was as ready as I was to spend a few days on the water.

Saltwater can be a harsh element, and it is tough on fishing gear. Although you will probably find few old salts that will admit it, cleaning and maintaining one’s fishing gear is clearly the most neglected aspect of our sport.

The fishing reel is the most expensive and complex piece of your fishing gear. Check it carefully to make sure your reel is in top working order because our modern reels are more complicated than ever. They must be kept clean and oiled to work smoothly. A little time and care devoted to your reel can save unnecessary trips to the repair shop.

Be sure to check the drag on your reel to assure its smooth operation. Set it on a light setting and pull the line out by hand to make sure it does not catch or hang up or have any rough spots. One brief hang-up of your drag could cost you a trophy fish.

On your return from any fishing trip, especially if you have been to saltwater, it is essential that your gently rinse your reel with fresh water to remove the salt and sand. Do not use a high-pressure hose. This will force too much grease from the drive, gears, and bearings. If you take your reel apart, rinse the inside of the housing and lay the individual components out to dry on a soft cloth. After drying, re-lubricate all the moving parts before you reassemble the reel. Then spray the whole reel with a thin coat of light oil. I use light reel oil for this step, and it can be purchased in most sporting goods stores and tackle shops. An excellent product to spray down your reels with is AMS-Oil MP Metal Protector.

Here’s an important tip: always take at least one rigged and ready backup reel on any fishing trip. Repair shops are few and far between on serious fishing adventures.

Fishing rods are usually neglected when care is given to fishing gear, yet rods are some of the most abused pieces of equipment a fisherman owns. Almost everyone takes along more than one type of rod on fishing trips. These rods need to be checked regularly and handled with care.

The punishment that fishing rods take from the elements and from being hauled to distant fishing spots in the beds of pick-ups or vans or on the bottoms of boats can inflict a lot of wear and damage. This punishment does not include the stress from being on the opposite end of the line from a fighting fish.

In this age of specialized fishing, most fishermen have several favorite rods. The reel seats, rod tips, and especially the line guides should be checked out thoroughly and repaired if necessary.
To check out the guides for flaws, run a piece of nylon stocking through the eye. If it snags, it may be a fracture or sharp burr, which will cut your line under stress. Also check the thread wrapping on each guide for frayed spots. This can cause the guide to separate from the rod just as you are trying to land that ‘catch of the day’ fish. So, if any of these flaws are found, have these guides replaced by a competent rod repairman.

Lures, lines and terminal tackle are usually the weakest links between fish and fisherman. When a fish escapes, it is generally because a frayed line broke, a damaged swivel snapped, or a rusted hook broke or came unhooked.

Before each fishing trip, spend a little time going over your terminal tackle. Most importantly, make sure your reel is filled with fresh, quality line. If it is more than six months old, replace it. It is foolish to scrimp on the cost of line. Buy the best. Snip off any section of line that may be frayed and replace any split rings or hooks on lures showing any sign of rust.

Check for bent or sprung swivels or snaps on your leaders. The cost for these replacement parts is nominal compared to the disappointment of a lost fish.

Before venturing into the spring tides on a serious extended fishing trip, take a little time to take inventory and shape up your fishing gear.