Storing Your Gear For the Winter
By: Mark Scocco
The cost of fishing tackle today, both equipment and lures continue to rise. It is important, now more than ever to properly maintain your gear to ensure that it lasts. Angler's invest in good rods and reels which often can approach and even surpass $200 for the combination. It's simply not wise to let your gear go unnoticed all winter long.
To properly store rods and reels for a winter of inactivity, a few things should be done. First, remove all old line from your spools. Completely loosen the drag systems to relieve any pressure being put on spools and gears. Remove the reels from the rods. Each reel should be thoroughly lubricated with a good reel oil or WD-40. Spools are not the only things to be greased. Don't forget to grease the handles and any other moving parts. For storing your rods, clean the reel seat and lube the threads if you choose. Check each guide with a cotton swab to detect any chips or cracks and replace any damaged guides. Clean cork handles and dry before storing. Finally, if you can store your rods laying flat, do so. Do not store your rods leaning up against a wall. It puts unnecessary strain on the rod being stored for months with a constant bend from it's normal, relaxed position.
Tackle can be left as is but attention should be paid to details in this area. All hard baits should be removed from the tackle boxes and the boxes cleaned and dried to ensure no rust build-up. Check the hooks for broken barbs and replace trebles if necessary. For spinner baits, remove any plastic trailer as it will damage the skirt. Don't forget to check the split rings and swivels for damage. For soft plastics, it is very important to pay attention. They can damage your storage boxes by simply being stored in them for a long period of time. Many anglers now use boxes similar to the Plano 3600 utility box to store their soft plastics. While these boxes are "worm proof", over a long period of time, the lids to these boxes can become deformed by the soft plastics. The lids will not close properly and will allow moisture in ruining most soft plastic baits. I suggest that each type of soft plastic and color be stored in a separate zip-lock baggie for winter storage. As an added benefit to doing this, I put a few drops of fish formula into the bag so that the baits can soak in the scent all winter long. Remember to use different bags for different colors to prevent color "bleeding". Finally, look at any terminal tackle such as swivels, split rings, jig heads, and worm hooks. Discard any damaged or rusted items since they will no longer be as strong as a new one.
Lastly, take care of your odds and ends. Store your polarized glasses in a case if you have one. Otherwise, keep them in a dark place. Remove life jackets from the boat and store in a dry place to avoid mildew. Store hardware like pliers in a dry place to avoid rusting. Fold and store all maps in a dry place. Finally, put your rain gear on a hanger and store in a dry place as well.
By following these guidelines to properly store your equipment for the winter, you can ensure that your gear will last you as long as it should and it's lifespan will not be reduced by neglect. When anglers spend so much time to meticulously maintain their gear during the season, there is no reason to forget about it during the winter. Your gear is an investment, give it the care it requires and it should last you as long as you want it to.
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