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Tackling Your Yearly Fishing Tackle Maintenance

Tackling Your Yearly Fishing Tackle Maintenance

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Now’s the time to do some spring cleaning and basic maintenance on your rods, reels, tackle box, and other equipment.

By Jim Cox

As fishermen, it doesn’t take temperatures warming much at all this time of year for us to start saying we’re ready for an offshore trip. And while we may be ready, is our tackle ready? Did you get your reels serviced at the end of the last fishing season so you’re indeed set for this year’s first voyage? 

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. For many of us, when the season is winding down, we’re always hopeful we’ll get a weather window to sneak in one more trip. Then it’s football, hunting camps, holidays, and cold weather, and your rods and reels are just as they were last year.

The reels we use today for inshore fishing, trolling, or bottom fishing are precision-engineered pieces of equipment. They rarely fail, but when they do, it’s usually not the reel itself to blame. It’s usually a lack of routine maintenance that causes the problem.

There are a couple of crucial reasons why we should have our reels serviced at the end of the season. When fishing reels are used regularly during the season, the inside of the reel doesn’t ever completely dry out, and the reels remain lubricated and in working order. The problems with most reels come from not being used, as corrosion builds up while they sit idle.

“Reels are like any other piece of machinery; they perform better when they’re being put to work,” says John Giannini, of J&M Tackle in Orange Beach, AL. “When reels sit for four or five months without being used, that’s when the mechanical breakdown occurs.”

That’s not to say that if you didn’t get your reels serviced last year that you’ll have corrosion issues or need major repairs. And even if you haven’t noticed any problems with your reels, they’ll still no doubt benefit from a good professional cleaning and servicing. And the time to do it is now.

“We encourage all of our customers to get us their reels as early as possible,” says Giannini. “When we get them in here at this time of the year, we can turn them around [promptly]. The problem becomes when everyone waits until the last minute late in the spring.” 

Now is also the time of year to put new line on your reels if needed. Many of our spools are less than full after a year of fishing, and line may have been stretched or nicked from a season of action and tying and retying. So I like starting with new line each season. It’s a small price to pay, especially if you’re using braid backing and just need to have a new top-shot added. 

We’ll no doubt get some less than ideal weekend weather as spring approaches, so I use those weather windows to tackle some of my spring cleaning fishing projects. For my rods, I like to take a cotton swab and move it around the inside of each guide. If there’s any rough spot, it will snag on the cotton and immediately alert you of a problem. I’d rather learn I need to replace a guide now than be clued in by a broken line and lost fish. I also check the mechanics of any roller guides to make sure they’re performing smoothly and properly while adding a little oil to each one.

For my tackle boxes, I not only reorganize them, but I also look for anything causing rust. Because if your gear is rusty, you need to pitch it. I also weed out things I’ve finally realized I don’t need in there any longer. Less clutter is always a good thing, plus it leaves room for something new.

One last thought on reels. If you have the mechanical skills to service them yourself, that sounds like a great weekend project to me. I have no such skills. The one time I tried to do it myself, I ended up making the walk of shame into the tackle shop with my reel and parts in a plastic bag. In that instance, I failed my reel, but since I’ve started having a professional do the service, my reel has never failed me. 

J&M Tackle
25125 Canal Rd.
Orange Beach, AL 36561
(251) 981-5460

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