Tackle tips for winter

by Ron McBain

With the trout season over, most anglers pack their gear up, leave it in the corner and look forward to the next season - in august. It is during this time (now) that it is essential to check your gear.

There is nothing worse than going on the first trip for the season and finding nothing working; the reel has seized up, the line breaks, the rod had a guide missing and the hooks have all rusted up.

If it is too much for you, take you reels and rods into a tackle shop and they will give them the once over. If, however, you would like to do it yourself, and after all that is half the fun in fishing - messin"around with fishin"tackle, here are a few tips.

The major cause for line wear is worn rod guides. It only needs one guide to be cracked or grooved to put a nick in the line and "bang"your line breaks when you least want it to - you may as. Check each guide carefully, and pay attention to the top tip - this is usually the main culprit. Hold the rod in a position where enough light can show any wear on the guides - rotate the rod and you should be able to pick up any wear marks.

A small scalpel blade or similar run around the guide will pick up any cracks that the eye can't see. Any guides should be replaced. The bindings on the guides should be intact and if they are looking thin give them a coat of varnish or epoxy. Check the guides are tight on the rod and in line with the others. The ferrule on multi piece rods should be tight. It can be frustrating when you cast out and find half a rod going to.

As with any item that has a lot of moving parts, general wear and tear will occur. Fortunately, spare parts are available for most brands of reels that are on the market today.

Looking after your reel with respect will prolong it's life indefinitely - and save you money on parts and frustration at having a reel not working properly. After every trip wash the reel with freshwater and wipe it fry. This is very important if the reel is used in saltwater.

Salt, sand and water have been the death of thousands of reels - don't let yours be one of them. Apply a couple of drops of light oil to any external moving parts - such as the bail arm, handle and anti reverse lever. A couple of times a year it's a good idea to take off the side plate and check inside.

Make sure there is some grease on the moving parts - not too much though, and check that there is no sand or grit inside. It is a good idea to change the grease occasionally. Don't use Vaseline, use a good grease, water proof preferably.

Once a year strip the reel down completely, wash all the parts in kerosene and reassemble with grease (as above).

Check as you go for wear and replace any parts as they need it. Don't tighten the drag when you have finished - and always leave the drag knob backed off when the reel is not in use, as the washers can be damaged if left done up for long periods of time.

Line has to be one of the most neglected pieces of fishing tackle, and it probably is the most important. Many anglers like to replace their line every season. By doing this, it is easy to keep track of what's got new line on it and what hasn't. It is a good idea to do this every year but not always essential.

Properly cared for line can last a couple of years. Keep your reels and line in a cool, dry place out of the sunshine and away from fumes such as petrol. Cut all your rigs, hooks and sinkers of your rods. Replace them with new ones.

Looking after your gear will give it longevity and it can wile away those winter nights until the fishing season returns.