Fussing with Your Rigging

For most seasoned anglers, Winter is a coveted time for steelhead and other favorite fish species across the globe; it’s also an opportunity to inventory your gear (for me, my reels) and provide an annual check-up for that beloved fly fishing quiver. Your gear is one of the most critical aspects of your fishing success. Ensuring your angling equipment is in good working order should be a high priority for you on a regular basis. The last thing anyone needs is a lost fish due to negligence on your part for not keeping your equipment in optimum shape. Here are a few reminder tips to help you organize and clean your fishing gear as you cozy up to the fire before slipping into boot-foot waders or before soaking your feet in tropical sands. 

By searching for the unexpected, you could save yourself the headache and frustration of possibly damaging your line or even losing a coveted fish. Visually inspect each guide for chips or cracks that can cut your fly line. Even sealed drags require a little bit of maintenance. Joel is the saltwater expert and can provide you with a wealth of experience in your reels’ specific needs. 

Freshwater or saltwater fly lines need annual attention to perform at their best. Clean the line with a mild detergent and warm water to remove dirt and debris. Wipe with a clean cloth and all to dry before reeling up. Take this time to inspect loop-to-loop connections and to be sure your running line is tangle and mold free. Cleaning fly lines regularly will help keep the line casting smoothly through the rod guides and also keep floating fly line actually floating instead of sinking.

A new, damp Magic Eraser can work wonders to gently remove dirt and debris from cork handles and gently wipe away build up around reel foot and winding handles. For extra cleaning, add a little bit of Dawn dish soap with warm water, scrub, and dry thoroughly. 

Saltwater residue on rod blanks, line guides, and reels creates a sticky surface; for the most part, while your equipment is rinsed off at the lodge after a day on the flats, I highly recommend using the above-mentioned steps to remove the salty film from all of your equipment after a trip to the tropics. Saltwater corrodes flats-pack zippers and everything else salt air comes in contact with~ including your expensive sealed drag reels. 


Fly Reel Maintenance:

  1. Test the drag and action of the reel before every outing.
  2. After a day of fishing, separate the arbor from the frame and allow it to air dry before storing.
  3. Periodically remove the arbor and inspect the cylinder. Clean any dirt or debris that has built up.
  4. Never add lubricants or grease to the reel without knowing exactly how to care for your specific reel. Not sure how to take it apart? That’s what we are here for, and we are happy to help teach you about what reel you have and what its needs are to best perform its functions.
  5. Click and pawl reels do require cleaning, and lube ~ 2x a year is what I recommend. Usually, this cleaning process happens with a dram of Scotch before and after floating lines are swapped out to winter sinking lines. Follow the link for more details on vintage care….

More on Lines, Tippets, & Leaders 

When inspecting your fly lines, pay close attention to your welded loops to ensure they have not cracked or begun to separate, chip, or tear. Remember that your monofilament spools and leaders need replacing on an annual basis, while your fluorocarbon will serve you for many years. If you’re new to the angling game, remember that fluorocarbon, while invisible in the water, has a greater sinking density than monofilament and is more abrasion-resistant. It’s usually not the choice for dry fly fishing, but there is always an exception to every rule. Monofilament ozones out and becomes brittle, which is why it’s so important we replace our tippet spools and toss out old monofilament leaders before a day of fishing. Many times, I end up using my old mono leaders for practice sessions on the grass or in the water when I know I’m not fishing. 

Jennifer La Follette
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