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fishing after winter, 6 things to do before you go

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6 things to do with your gear before you go fishing!

So the festivities are over, the new year is here and I dare say, a lot of us are feeling the cold in the morning but would still love to go fishing, am I right!

Just think of all the poor fishing rods, reels and tackle which have been laid to rest in the sheds all across the world this winter, laying in there slumber, feeling the cold and damp themselves if your sheds anything like mine, Well its nearly time to bring it all out in the sunshine (hah!) and give it some love, So here we go,


ever come out of a hot shower and wander through your house in the cold and instantly regret it? perhaps you have come in from the cold with red sore fingers and went straight for the hot tap to thaw them out and instantly regretted it, well before you begin to unwrap your rods and reels, tackle boxes and rod rests, bring it all out into the

sunshine and let them warm up, it helps prevent stress cracking on plastic and fiberglass parts as well as gives the spiders and bugs a chance to run away from there winter homes


air it out

mould is the worst thing you can get on your bags, coats and carryalls, it stains and lingers and drastically reduces its lifespan and frankly, it’s extremely bad for your health so now is a good chance to unwrap all your rods, spread out your coats and bags and inspect for damp, if you do see any, don’t worry! it’s very easy to get rid of it with a bit of bleach and some gloves and scrub it away, please keep in mind though that bleach does stain so always test on a small inconspicuous area first to make sure no colours are run. if you discover that the colours do run then another option is to use very hot water and soak the stain with a mild detergent to try and kill some of the mould spores and prevent it spreading, you can buy some great antimould sprays and solutions from most stores if you would like a more thorough solution.

it helps prevent stress cracking on plastic and fiberglass parts


inspect everything

So your gear is all exposed, its the perfect time to go through your rods and reels, end tackle and accessories piece by piece and check for damage from last season, keep a notepad handy and write down any damage you see so you can pick up spares the next time your at the tackle shop. most often you will spot some scratches and scuffs around the spigot (where the rod pieces join together) from sand and mud as well as some cracked glazing around the eyes of the rod.

any cracks should be investigated further and see how far it extends, if its just a surface scratch then keep an eye on it in the future, if its a definite crack then maybe its time to contact your local rod builder or tackle shop to get a repair booked in, its very cheap to replace an eye might cost you that big fish when it gives way. cracks around the spigot are generally bad, they will often run vertically rather than horizontally and being that most rods are made from carbon fibre or a composite, the crack can very quickly spread under a little stress, such as casting or playing that big one against the wind. seek the advice from your tackle shop and definitely don’t use the rod with any large weights until it’s been fixed, it might cost you a rod but could seriously injure someone else if your weight snaps off and goes flying because your rod buckled in half.

any cracks should be investigated further and see how far it extends


Washing up liquid and hot water

This is my personal favourite, grab a nice soapy bucket of water and a soft cloth or sponge and go over all the rods and boxes, inside and out and get them nice and clean, the reason I say use detergent is that its a degreaser, and most baits contain oil which sticks, stinks and then contaminates everything else, the water will help shift this dried on muck and get all the bait juices off your rod butt too. it will help keep the foam or cork handle clean and in good health and as a bonus, if your fishing when it rains, the greasy bait juice could rehydrate and become slippery again when you least expect it, causing you an injury or even losing your rod. its a nice time to strip the line of your reels as well, this should be done at a minimum of every season and after spending a winter in a dark damp place then now is the ideal time. you will often feel that its rough along a lot of its length and by now it would have lost up to 50% of its strength. You may be tempted to strip off the first 50-100 meters and leave the rest, and although the line won’t feel as frayed or rough, your casting distance will severely be affected which makes you cast harder to reach the same distance, and by doing that you will have a snap off at some point. just bite the bullet, strip it all off and put it in a plastic bag and bin it. do not let it blow away as a big bundle of loose line can cause the local wildlife a lot of issues.

grab a nice soapy bucket of water and a soft cloth or sponge and go over all the rods and boxes


inventory check

now let’s move on to your end tackle, hooks, weights, feeders and beads/shots. I keep my rods and large pieces in the shed and my fishing bag goes in the shoe cupboard indoors, But you may keep it all in the shed for various reasons, or you may have a dedicated space in yoru house for all of your fishing gear, either way I guarantee your tackle box is a bit of a mess from last season, so grab a nice piece of newspaper and lay it onthe floor and slowly begin to empty your tackle box, check each packet of hooks for signs of rust, dull or bent hooks and use your trusty notepad to make a shopping list of things you need. hooks can often be resharpened and can save you a small fortune over the year doing this but if you see rust, then safely discard the hook, I recommend getting a small tin or plastic pot and putting all your sharp hooks in this, wrapping it in paper and tape so its all wrapped up tight, you really don’t want sharp rusty hooks laying around the place as they can cause a lot of issues which I won’t go into here. weights are generally indestructible so these can just be checked to make sure the swivels and eyes are still strong, that they have no loose bits and still safe to use. Feeders and cage feeders are again pretty safe, just make sure that they have no sharp bits hanging off as these may harm the fish and your fingers as well as catch snags and make sure the swivels are all ok and strong. if you use the old old old metal cage feeders, then now is a good time to throw them away. safer, plastic versions which don’t harm the environment are so cheap there is no excuse not to make the swap. Once you have finished checking all your tackle, chucked your old hooks away safely and made a shopping list for your impending tackle shop visit you’re ready to clean out your tackle box. This is a quick and easy procedure involving our good friend, hot soapy water again, personally I use the bath and run the shower on it, use a sponge with some washing up liquid and wipe over everything, keep some WD-40 on hand to spray on your hinges after it has dried and check any screws or bolts to make sure they are still tight.

make sure that they have no sharp bits hanging off as these may harm the fish and your fingers


All done? great, grab a cuppa and come back for the next 2 things to do before you go fishing. 


Clean your reels

This is the job where you’re going to want to take your time, enjoy it and relax, don’t rush. put on the radio, grab some screwdrivers and some light grease, or some specialised grease if your into that sort of thing and begin the teardown.

I’m not going to go into detail with this as there are literally thousands upon thousands of reel on the market and each has there own way of being opened and cleaned, make sure you check the user manual or find one online to help you.

if you cant find one and you’re just going to wing it then don’t go to deep in the reel, with fixed spools your generally safe to remove the handle entirely and unscrew the cover to expose the screws and apply some light grease to the exposed gears, I am in no way telling you to do this and if you haven’t before then don’t do it on my advice. if you do then don’t move anything and don’t turn anything just in case a clip or spring pops out, I have broken many anti-reverse switches by doing that and have learned my lesson! apply a dab of grease (not vaseline or wd-40, trust me, I’ve seen it!) carefully place the side you have taken off back on and screw it tight. hopefully, it still works (crosses fingers), if not then see your local tackle shop for advice.

multiplier reels are a pain if your inexperienced, don’t take your favourite reel apart, find a junker to test it first if you are committed to the idea, otherwise take it to your local tackle shop and ask if they service reels, if it is done correctly, you will feel an improvement, and see it with longer casts. when they are all clean and dry, time to put some new line on them, take a look at this blog for advice on how to do that from Anglers Mail or for multipliers, have a look here

take it to your local tackle shop and ask if they service reels


And finally

All is clean and tidy, everything spick and span, your reels are happy and your rods gleaming, your tackle box smells clean and doesn’t have any mysteriously sticky bits or old bait clogging up the corners, time to have a test setup, I do this every year and yes, your neighbours will ask if you caught anything. But its good to see it all set up, ready to go and also gives you chance to catch anything you missed the first time around so you know when you grab your gear late at night for an early morning sesh, your all good to go and have no surprises once you get to your mark.

your reels are happy and your rods gleaming

but wait, before you go!

throughout this article I have made a point of mentioning your local tackle shop numerous times, this is because they need your help frankly. With the internet being so readily available and easy to order your stuff and wait for it to arrive, we often forget the years of experience our local tackle shop has, I hardly never buy online now as I have too much trust in my local tackle shop, they guide me on rods, let me try reels, advise me on bait for certain species and where to fish in the wensum, Without them I would be left hunting for this information online, instead I can go to my tackle shop,  grab a cup of coffee, talk with other anglers and discuss the latest carp rigs or sea baits. I might spend a few quid extra but what I get back in the form of helpful advice and no dodgy purchases, I say its definitely worth it. The fact of the matter is our local tackle shops are disappearing and with every tom, dick and harry thinking they will be the next tackle superstar or go to guy for bits and bobs, it’s not helping the situation. so spare a little time and visit your tackle shop, ask them what you need to know and get genuine feedback on where to fish and the best methods. because one day…they won’t be there anymore.


I really hoped you enjoyed this little article and if you found it vaguely useful then feel free to comment and say so, if you hated it then tell us as well. if you loved it then share it with your friends, its free!


Tight lines guys and girls



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