• Published:September 4, 2018
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There's a lot of false information out there about fishing tackle maintenance.

In fact, some of the "maintenance" anglers do can cause more harm than good. If you want your gear to last for the long haul, follow these do's and don'ts next time you put the tackle away.
DON’T blast your reels with a forceful spray from a freshwater hose. The pressure can force water through the seals inside the reel, and into its body. This fresh water can contaminate the grease, encourage corrosion and generally makes a mess of things.

DO wash down your reels with a cloth dipped in soapy water, then rinse them off with a gentle spray or mist. It’s also a good idea to tighten up the drags before doing washing to minimize the possibility of any water intrusion.

DON’T store your reels after that gentle wash down without first loosening the drags back up. If a reel sits for a long period of time with the drag cranked down, the washers can become pinched. If the damage is severe, the drag won’t operate smoothly again without replacing those washers.
DO loosen up the drags on all of your reels before you put them away.

DON’T spray everything in sight with WD-40. Yes, this stuff is great for specific tasks, but it’s not the wonder-potion some people would have you believe. WD-40 is a solvent as well as a lubricant, which means it can break down the other lubes designed for specific purposes in parts like your reel’s gears and roller bearings.

DO use a spritz of WD-40 here and there to clean off a reel’s exterior, or break free frozen parts. Otherwise, use the lubricant specified by the reel’s manufacturer.

DON’T leave a coating of WD, or any other cleaner or lubricant for that matter, on the outside of your reels when you put them away for winter storage. If you allow a coating to remain, it will attract and hold dust. When you break the reels out in the spring, that dust will stick to the reels and may muck things up.

DO thoroughly wipe off whatever cleaner or lubricant you used, before putting those reels away.

DON’T sharpen rusty old hooks, if you want to use hooks that are as sharp as possible.

DO throw old hooks away, and start fresh with new ones. After a use or two, today’s chemically and laser-sharpened hooks will never be as sharp as they were when you first took them out of the package. Sure, it can be expensive to use new hooks every time you fish. But if you really want to have the sharpest hooks possible on the end of your line, pitch those old hooks and start fresh every time.

DON’T put rigs spooled with monofilament line into rod racks in your boat’s cabin, your home-office or similar areas for long-term storage if they will be exposed to sunlight. Sunlight degrades mono, and before you know it that 20-pound test will start breaking under 15 pounds of pressure.

DO stow rods in closets, garages, or similar areas where the sun don’t shine.

DON’T use the five-gallon bucket you use for chunking when it’s time for a wash down at the end of the day. Many boat soaps have some rather strong perfumes. If you can smell that stuff it’s a fair bet that a fish can too.

DO keep dedicated buckets aboard, and don’t mix them up. Using different colors for fishing and wash downs will help.

DON’T disassemble a reel down to the small parts, unless you’re 100-percent confident in your ability to put it back together again without having any screws left over. Talk to any reel repair guy and he’ll tell you that half his business comes from reassembling reels that other people took apart.

DO take your reel to a pro for servicing, in the first place. In the long run, it usually saves a lot of time and heartache.

DON’T rinse dredges, spreader bars, lures, and similar items in the mesh-sided bags they’re often sold with. Yes, these bags do breathe to some degree, but by merely hosing down the bag you’ll never get all the brine off of its contents. In fact, spraying alone is never enough and some level of physical contact in the form of scrubbing or rubbing is necessary to remove all the salt on a rig that’s been dragged through the ocean.

DO give these lures a thorough wash down outside of the bags they’re stowed in, and then hang them on the T-top or a leaning post to dry. Only after they’ve thoroughly air-dried should you put them back in the bag, and stow them away.

DON’T scale-set the drag of a reel indoors. Here’s the usual result: you put the line through the rod guides, tie a loop in the end, and slide it over the hook on the scale. Then, your buddy holds the scale down low while you lean back in a fish-fighting position and apply pressure. Next, he adjusts the scale’s position so he can see the reading while you’re leaning back and putting 10 or 20 pounds of pressure on the line. Then the loop slips off the hook, you jerk backwards, and the rod tip sling-shots upwards. Crack! The tip breaks off the rod while simultaneously punching a ragged hole in your ceiling.

DO scale-set drags outdoors, where you can’t break anything.

BONUS TIP: Never, never, ever lean up rods against a wall, a car, or anything that has a door nearby. Rods have a habit of sliding into the crack between the door and door jam, and as soon as someone tries to open or close the door... snap!