I have a predilection to keep my fishing tackle in tip-top shape. I'm
a bit extreme when it comes to this - it's the first thing I do when returning
from a trip or at the conclusion of a day's fishing. For me it means wiping
down the rods and reels, cleaning the lines, and putting everything back
in its proper place. Why bother? In my case I have three reasons. First,
I love the equipment that I have acquired and want it to look good. Second,
I want to start my next trip with everything in proper order and I don't
want to waste fishing time dealing with equipment problems. Last, all
your tackle will last far longer with a little TLC.
I'm always amazed at how some fisherman give no thought whatsoever to
their gear. Some years back I remember seeing a group of fishermen in
a pickup truck headed for the 3-mile takeout on the Bighorn. Their rods
were sticking out the window as they zoomed along the highway. Later that
same day I recognized one of them on the bank watching his friends fish.
As I floated by I asked why he wasn't fishing. He yelled back "my
rod broke. I can't understand it, I just bought it a few weeks ago."
- If you always keep your rod in its aluminum tube and cloth sack when
you're not fishing, you will eliminate 95 percent of rod breakage problems.
When you're transporting it from point A to point B in a vehicle, break
it down or place it in a rod rack or position it securely inside the
car. When I'm in a boat, the rods I'm not using stay in a case.
- When you carefully clean a rod after fishing you'll notice any wear
on the guides, and small fractures caused by split shot, weighted flies,
etc. These are potential break points - get a new tip because failure
is just a matter of time.
- A rod that is left set up at the end of the day rather than taken
apart and put away may not only be a prime target for an accident but
may also be very difficult to take apart when you do want to put it
- Never put a fly rod away when it's still wet. Lay the rod, cloth sack,
and tube (with the cap left off) somewhere warm and dry. Moisture can
and will mildew the grip and oxidize the metal components. Fly rods
should be stored in a cool, dry place, standing upright in a corner.
- You can check your guides for rough edges by running a piece of nylon
stocking through each one. If it catches, it's time to replace that
guide. You can do the job yourself, or send the rod off for repair.
Front Range Anglers will be happy to assist.
- Make sure that your screw-lock reel seats are clean; a single grain
of sand can bind the threads.
- Any winding that starts to unwind should be sent away for repair or
cut off with a razor blade and replaced. Small cracks may diminish the
appearance but are not serious problems. Sometimes they can be fixed
with a little dab of spar varnish.
- Ferrules on all high-quality rods are hand-fitted to each other at
the factory. This is why if you break a tip section on your rod, the
manufacturer asks you to send both the butt and the tip back. Ferrules
should be cleaned and lubricated. Polish the surface of the male ferrule
with a soft cloth. Check the fit. If tight, they'll need lubrication,
but never use grease or oil. Greasy substances cause suction in the
ferrule and also attract dirt particles. Fiberglass, boron/graphite,
and graphite self-ferrules should be lubricated with paraffin, metal
ferrules with dry soap.
- I completely clean and lubricate every fly reel used in fresh water
once a year at the beginning of the season (March in my case). I periodically
check the reel and reapply lubrication once a month. Clean your reels
in dishwashing detergent and warm water, never with any kind of solvent.
- Relubricate reels by applying a light grease to all moving parts,
especially the arbor that holds the spool. Heavy grease will gum up
the works and may cause your spool to seize up.
- Reels that are used in saltwater should be washed with soap and warm
water and then rinsed several times with fresh water. Take all the line
and backing off your reel and rinse them as well. Then apply a light
coat of oil to all parts of the reel, including the inside of the spool,
except the cork or Teflon pads on disk-drag models. Relubricate all
moving metal parts with light-weight grease.
- I'll generally replace the backing every 2 to 4 years.
- Nothing will destroy the guides on a fly rod faster than dirty lines.
I've heard it said that someone who fishes hard and whose fly line is
dirty will go through a set of guides in three years. I keep my line
clean and I've never gone through a set of guides.
- You don't need to take your line off a reel when not in use but just
make sure they are not exposed to direct sunlight.
- The biggest enemy of fly lines is fly sprays and the chemicals in
insect repellents which break down the plastic finish. Keep this stuff
away from your lines. At close to $60 per line it's worth the effort.
- Get yourself one of the many line cleaning products and get in the
habit of using it when you have been fishing hard. Alternatively, you
can use soap and warm water. Most of the time after a day's fishing
I'll run my line through a warm wet cloth - it only takes a minute or
two. Keep in mind that a dirty floating line will not float properly;
a dirty line of any type will not shoot as smoothly. All lines can be
washed in a sink with soap and warm water, then run through a towel.
- Never cast a line on asphalt or cement. It will be ruined in short
- No matter how much care you give a line you'll eventually notice cracks
in the finish, meaning it's time for a new one. How long will it last?
If you fish frequently and use the line heavily you'll be doing well
getting one season out of it. I'd guess that on average I get 4 years
out of lines used occasionally, 2 years out of lines used sparingly,
and one season out of those used on a regularl basis. If I didn't take
care of these lines I'm pretty sure their useful life would be cut in