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16 July 2021
Any major event requires a significant amount of preparation and nothing is more important to fly anglers than the start of trout season. Packing up your gear to be ready to head out is only half the battle – you also need to make sure your gear will last the season. And the only way to do that is by maintaining it regularly.
To make sure that you're well-equipped while the trout are biting and to avoid any mishaps that could cause you to lose a trophy fish, let’s take a look at how you can take care of your gear.
Since most trout live in freshwater, you don’t need to clean your rod as often as you would if you were taking a trip out on saltwater. A good cleaning every four or five trips is enough, but if your rig has been sitting in the closet for a while, you should definitely check that everything is in good working order.
First, be careful with your rod, no matter what kind you have. While they are durable, sturdy, and can handle an intense amount of stress, they are still fragile items that are prone to scratches and chips. When carrying your rod around make sure you hold it up straight and take care when setting it down.
To clean it, run the rod over some fresh clean water with a little soap to wash it out. Make sure you thoroughly clean the guides and eyelets, as these can have vegetation or dirt stuck inside of them. Give your grip a good wash down as well. Inspect your rod while you're cleaning it, checking that the guides, thread wraps, and cork on the grips are still intact. Make sure you dry it thoroughly afterward to prevent any rust from building up before storing it back into a rod sleeve or case.
If you properly care for your spinning reel, it should last you for decades, and regular maintenance is the key. Not servicing it regularly can lead to an unexpected mishap at the worst time.
Most anglers don’t service their reel because it’s one of the most difficult to properly maintain and take apart, but any solid angler should know how to do it. You should be doing maintenance at least once a week when freshwater fishing, and after every other saltwater trip.
A simple way to keep the outside clean is to use a spray bottle, adjusting the spray to a fine, wide mist. If you use a strong straight jet of water, you run the risk of getting dirt and salt inside the moving parts. Make sure to tighten the drag as well before you gently spray and wipe with a soft cloth. You must dry it afterward with a separate soft cloth to prevent corrosion.
You should also loosen the drag whenever you return from a day of angling as this will alleviate pressure from the washers. This also helps loosen the gears and prevents them from freezing up in a tight setting.
While taking apart your reel is not recommended if you’re not familiar with the process, it can help to keep your gear in shape during trout season so you may want to learn how.
First, take the spool of the shaft and wipe any debris from it, making sure to check inside as well. Apply a little lubricant to the base of the shaft and rotate the handle to grease the moving parts. Return the spool and add a little bit more oil to the exterior of the handle that's attached to the main body. Take great care not to spill any of the lubricants onto the line as it may damage its integrity.
Respooling your spinning reel should also be done regularly – if you’re using monofilament or fluorocarbon, once or twice a month should do the trick. Lines should be able to last for years as long as they’re properly cared for.
Once you’ve taken off the line, submerge it in warm water and mild dish soap. Swirl it around gently and dry it with a soft cloth or paper towel. If you still have some of the line cleaners that came with the line when you purchased them, now is the time to use them! While you’re holding the line cleaning towelette, pinch the line in between your fingers and slowly reel your line in with the other hand so that you clean it as you spool it back in.
If you don't open up your fly box after every trip and let your flies dry, you should definitely start. It's important to separate the wet flies from the dry ones so that the moisture doesn’t spread, but ideally, you shouldn’t be taking out your entire fly box on every trip anyway. You can also try inserting some packets of silica gel inside your fly box to absorb any excess moisture and while you're at it, go ahead and check for rusty hooks, loose threads, or hackle that’s starting to come apart.
Now, whether you tie your flies or not, a regular inventory check is the best way to make sure they last throughout the season. If you notice that the fish are taking a particular liking to your San Juan Worms or Wooly Buggers, the wise angler would keep them stocked up. The prudent thing to do would be to either tie or buy the ones that you just used up on a trip to make sure you’re well-equipped for the next round of battle.
A vital piece of gear that some anglers fail to check is their waders. Walking into a stream to suddenly feel water rushing into your boots could ruin your whole day, so it’s best to check for leaks before the season even starts.
One nifty trick to spot those tiny little holes is to turn them inside out and use a spray bottle to mist it with rubbing alcohol. If you see any dark spots, those could be microscopic holes, so you'll need to apply some waterproof sealant on those areas, just enough to cover them up. Let the sealant dry for a few hours up to a day and you should have waterproof waders once again.
Maintaining your gear might seem like a very daunting task, and we won’t lie, it can be. However, taking care of it can prevent headaches in the future. Either way, we hope these tips can help you make your gear last throughout the trout season so that you can focus on the fishing instead of worrying whether or not your gear can handle the fight.