If you’re an experienced angler, you’ve become pretty good at the basics and more advance fishing techniques. However, it might be a good time to revisit what you do and why you do it. Changes in line and gear, along with some over-confidence in what you do, make a review worth your time.
First, go through your tackle box and clean out the odds and ends that have accumulated since the last time you cleaned your box. This includes hooks that need to be washed, sorted into the right bin or slot, and re-sharpened. If necessary, empty out your entire box and wipe out the crud at the bottom. In extreme cases, a toothbrush will let you get the grit and other gunk out of tight corners.
Check the handles and hinges, depending on whether you use a box or a bag. Use that toothbrush if it’s necessary to get crud out of tight places. Use a drop or two of oil on latches, zippers and other mechanical fasteners to keep them operating smoothly. You don’t want to be in the middle of an epic bite hammering at a stubborn latch to get to hooks, jigs or other items.
Next, dig out your dykes and hit them up with that toothbrush, making sure to get as much crud out as possible. Let dry and them apply a drop of light oil to keep them working smoothly. Another trick to try is to retain some bacon fat (grease), filter it through cheesecloth, and them stick the dykes in the container overnight. The story is that dykes treated this way will not build up salt crystals in the hinge.
Go over your rods and reels. Take the reels off and give both of them the cleaning they need. Work the reel retaining rings up and down. Add a drop of oil to the rings and work them up and down again to thoroughly coat the threads.
After washing your rod and letting it dry, consider using a wax on your rod. This helps stuff from sticking and makes it easier to hose off. Some people use Pledge or similar product, sprayed on the rod, and then wiped off.
I prefer a carnauba wax from my auto supply shop. Use a gel-type wax by putting some in a clean, dry cloth and rubbing it over the rod surface, taking care to avoid the butt and grip. Depending on how much you fish will determine how often you need to reapply the wax.
Check the line guides for smoothness. Run a Q-tip or cotton ball around the inside of the guide. If there is a rough surface, fibers will stick. These rough spots will cause your line to fray and weaken. Replace them as needed.
Similarly, clean the exterior surfaces of your fishing reel. Use a gentle spray of water to prevent salt from being driven into the interior. Following the manufacturers’ guidelines, lubricate your reel as indicated.
Check the line for nicks. Ideally, this should be done every time you put one of change the bait. If you can’t remember how old the line is, it might be time to strip it off and replace it. Since the line is off the spool, this is a good time to wash it, as well.
Do you remember to back the drag off the reel every time you come off the water? If not, the drags might have taken a set. They’re inexpensive and usually easy to swap out. Do it while you’re on land.
Are you tying your hooks on correctly? By that, I mean are you passing the line through the hook eye in the correct direction. For J-hooks, the line should enter from the rear. For circle hooks, the line should be fed through from the front. As the line is retrieved, the proper line-hook alignment will set the hook stronger and deeper in the fish.
Have you inspected your lead lately? Are there sharp or rough spots on your egg sinkers’ inner passage? Do your brass eyelets have rough surfaces? Did you trim the flashing off of cast lead weights without leaving a sharp edge? File these spots smooth or ream out the egg sinkers carefully to eliminate any thing that could damage your line.
Smelled your hands lately? Fish have a sense of smell and off odors may repel fish from your jig or lure. Use a soap designed to eliminate or cover up human scents. If nothing else is available, you might want to ‘wash’ your hands using a piece or squid of fin bait to cover up the human smell.
By following some or all of these suggestions, you’ll make yourself a more-organized and better fisherman.
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