Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time to Prep Gear For The Season

It’s time to gear up and plan for Maine’s 2015 striped bass fishing season.
                Rods, reels, lines, flies, hooks, terminal tackle, clothing, boats and other personal items need to be attended to now, not a few days prior to your first trip to the salt. All those items need to be inspected, repaired, cleaned or replaced to be ready for battles come spring.
                All the pictured fly reels and bags full of fly reels and new fly lines need to be cleaned and have new lines strung. Not torture, but it has to get done prior to the season as there is precious little time available then. Anything you can do to simplify the process is most welcome.

                Several years ago, Jim Young who manages Eastman’s Tackle in Falmouth, MA. showed me his new reel cleaning devise. It consists of a big tub full of a special liquid chemical. He dug out a salt encrusted reel he needed to repair. Watch this he said. As he dunked the reel in a rack into the tub, he explained this was a similar operation that women use to clean jewelry. After a couple of minutes, he retrieved the reel, rinsed it off with cool water and handed to me. That was a “wow” moment. The ugly looking reel that got dunked came out looking almost new. Jim would then proceed to dismantle the reel, clean and lubricate inner parts and replace any worn parts. Reel was quickly refreshed for another year of duty.
                So, I went shopping to find a jewelry cleaning machine and found one easily at a jewelry counter in a local store. Now this machine isn’t the commercial item Jim uses, but it does work on smaller parts of reels as you clean one. Some of the larger parts can be cleaned by holding them in the tub one little section at a time. This is not a fast as Jim’s machine, but it does an admirable job. The chemicals required are readily available at most larger retail outlets. This is much better than I can do by hand.   
                One item I see sports neglect every year is their leader, be it a butt leader or full tapered leader. Every season I have numerous sports show up with their own equipment and I always ask the pound test of their tippet. The usual answer is, “I don’t have clue, it’s the same one I used last year”. I don’t even bother to inspect leaders. All are replaced with appropriate tippets for the intended game. One note on leaders. I always use a knotless, tapered leader for all popper fishing. This will eliminate knots which always catch little and big pieces of debris floating on the surface all season long. It is very annoying to have your leader fouled with debris just when a fish starts to following a fly. The debris is just enough to turn the hot fish away from striking. Another note, if you use tea colored leaders for Atlantic salmon fishing, take it off as I found them not as effective as fluorocarbon leaders in the salt. I think the tea colored leaders show up too much in salt water, potentially spooking fish.
                It’s a pain to strip all your fly line off the reel to inspect the knot between backing and fly line. I have seen dozens of fly lines lost to aggressive fish. Not only do you lose a fish, you lose a $40 to $90 fly line which is connected to a fish. That fish might not drop the line and die from being snagged to kelp or other underwater items. Just retie the connection to eliminate a potential weak spot in your setup.

                Fly rods need a little attention. If you didn’t do it in the fall, take a fly rod a day to the shower with you to clean them carefully using an old tooth brush. Make certain to clean each guide inside out and backwards as this is an area that gets neglected too often. When the rod is dripped dried for a day, inspect every inch for issues. Run a small piece of nylon stocking back and forth through each guide on all 360 degree inside surfaces. If there is a problematic nick in the guide, the stocking will catch up on it. Either carefully file the nick down with fine emery cloth or replace the guide.

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