Basic maintenance of your saltwater fishing gear will save money on replacements.
There is no doubt that the price of fishing gear has increased significantly in recent years, perhaps even more than other products designed for recreational sport and fun. While there are still plenty of affordable entry-level rod and reel combos that can be found with a visit to your local tackle shop or through an internet search, more experienced anglers generally lean towards to high-end rigs with several different configurations needed to target a range of popular fish species and fishing environments.
Considering the costs, it’s not unusual for a quality rod and reel setup to exceed $300, it’s never been more important to give your rig a little TLC every now and then. Late winter is the perfect time for this effort in northern and mid-Atlantic waters, while those fishing from the southern Carolinas to the Gulf Coast may want to schedule maintenance sessions serious to coincide with periods when preferred targets are passing between seasons.
“It’s amazing how a little cleaning and maintenance can extend the life of your gear,” says John Mantione of J & J Sports in Patchogue, New York, about halfway from Montauk on Long Island’s South Shore. “If you fish in marine waters, especially, all rods, reels and equipment that are used on a regular basis should receive a thorough inspection, as well as personal attention. This includes nets, knives, coolers, pliers, knives, whatever you’re using, that can come into contact with salt water while you’re doing your thing.”
Simply put, Mantione says, “salt kills” when it comes to fishing gear, so saltwater anglers must use equipment rated for saltwater use. This is your starting point from which all other care begins with a fresh water rinse after every outing for any rod and reel that can pick up even a little spray. At least once a year, he suggests, clean and thoroughly clean the coils, rinse them with fresh water to dissolve the salt, open the body to replace the grease that often contains sand and dirt, check the drag to ensure I know it works without problems. Herky-jerky starts and stops, drop an oil slick around the handle and wipe each with a clean cloth and a light touch of WD-40 or similar oil/lubricant to protect the finish. Also change the line if it looks worn or has been used for more than a season or two.
For rods, Mantione suggests starting with a clean and deep clean in fresh water, followed by an inspection of all guides and the rod tip for braided line grooves, rust, nicks, chips or burrs , which can be easily discovered by running them. a cotton swab along the guide rings and feet so that the threads stick to the imperfections.
While annual cleanings are vital, Mantione says, you can also save a lot of headaches by incorporating basic maintenance into your daily fishing routine. Give rods, reels, nets and jigs a quick freshwater rinse as soon as you return to the dock or park the trailer. Clean the refrigerator immediately after emptying it, and also clean the electronic packages, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, be sure to discard dull, rusted, or bent hooks and consider whether you need to purchase replacements.
“For rollers that don’t run smoothly after housecleaning, a trip to a thrift store or a return to the manufacturer is warranted,” says Mantione. “And there’s nothing wrong with leaving several rods and rollers for professional maintenance, as long as you do it several weeks before they’re needed, as repairs can take a while these days given the constraints of the parts supply chain of spare
“Maintenance really makes a big difference in the quality of your gear over time on the saltwater front,” he concludes. “Even with stainless steel products like fishing pliers, an occasional spritz of oil and cleaning can extend the life by several years. In the long run, this saves money on replacements.”
More importantly, it could be the difference between landing the biggest fish you’ve ever seen or telling another “one that got away” story.