January 10, 2010 12:01:00 AM
Being stuck in the house on a brutally cold weekend can be boring or have you wrapped up in "honey-do''s.".
Now is the perfect time to pull out all your fishing rods and do some maintenance.
Take the reel off of each rod and inspect the rods for problems.
One of the main problems with rods is the "eyes" or guides will get bent. Straightening a rod guide is simple and should be done carefully so that you don''t break one off.
Once you straighten the guide, hold the rod out and look down the guides and make sure they are in line with each other. If one is bent out of line, use a pair of needle-nosed pliers and carefully bend it back into alignment. Be careful not to clamp near the insert inside the guide.
Most of the guides come with a ceramic insert and are not very forgiving. They can chip or break easily.
Proper alignment allows the line to cast farther and keep the line from hitting the rod on the cast.
Check each rod guide for chips. A chipped insert will cut your line when you are fighting a fish and will leave you wondering what happened.
Take an old tooth brush along with some soapy warm water and clean around the guides and reel seat. Wipe the rod down with an old rag or towel and the rod is ready for another year.
Now is the perfect time to strip the fishing line from last year.
If your reel was making a grinding sound while reeling in a lure or a squealing sound while casting, the reel needs some maintenance. Most reels just need a good cleaning.
Reel manufacturers recommend starting off by removing the line and running it under the water faucet. This will rinse off loose debris that has collected during the fishing season.
Take an old rag or towel and clean the exterior of the reel. You will also want a handful of cotton swabs to get into the hard-to-reach areas.
On baitcasting reels, there is a worm gear under the line guide called the level wind. The grooves should be cleaned with a cotton swab thoroughly.
Turn the reel handle to move the guide and pawl out of the way while you are cleaning. This is an important place to apply some oil to allow the reel to wind smoothly. It only takes a drop or two and then turn the handle several rotations to make sure the pawl applies the oil completely throughout the grooves.
Most baitcasting reels come with a braking control on the left side of the reel. The majority of the reels have a screw or thumb knob to remove the side plate.
Remove the side plate and apply a drop of oil on each bearing. Remove the spool, which is commonly easy, and clean where you could not reach previously. Reset the spool and close the side plate and you are ready to give the reel some new line.
Attach the reel on the rod and for the most part the maintenance is complete for another season.
I recommend using a rod wrapping on the cork handle. Bass Pro Shops sells them for $4 or $5 per grip or you can go to Walmart and buy some tennis racket handle wrap for much cheaper. I am able to wrap three rods for $2 or $3. The wrapping is just as good.
Handle wraps are good for a few reasons. A wrap will preserve the cork on the handle from all the dirt and oil that your hands have on them. Clean the cork with soapy water before you apply the wrap.
The other good reason to use a wrap is that it gives you a tacky grip. When your hand is sweaty or your hands are wet from the rain, the wrap will keep your hand from slipping.
Do some work on your equipment now and it will save you disappointments this coming season.
Kevin Forrester contributes an outdoor column to The Commercial Dispatch each week. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org