Some pieces of fish­ing gear need an­nual re­place­ment. Here’s what needs to go.

Soundings - - Contents -

Learn which tackle you should keep and what you should toss as you per­form win­ter­time main­te­nance.

I’m cheap. I’m a chintzy, penny-pinch­ing, miserly skin­flint of an an­gler. I have a rack of rods and reels that I was us­ing long be­fore my hair went gray, and a boat that was built the year my daugh­ter was born—she’s a fresh­man in col­lege to­day. Still, I rec­og­nize that some pieces of fish­ing gear need an­nual re­place­ment, cost be darned. If tak­ing care of these items isn’t on your to- do list, then it’s time to re­ar­range your pri­or­i­ties and pry open your wal­let.

Monofil­a­ment line: Re­gard­less of how much it gets used, monofil­a­ment line suf­fers from two ma­jor prob­lems with age. First, it gets “shape mem­ory” as it sits on the reel, mak­ing cast­ing prob­lem­atic and prone to tan­gles. Sec­ond, it loses strength. Ny­lon de­grades with age, and sun­light de­grades it even faster. Can a spool of mono last for two sea­sons? Sure, but you’ll be fish­ing at a slight dis­ad­van­tage. In the third sea­son, that dis­ad­van­tage be­comes huge. And when it comes to catch­ing big fish on light tackle, even the small­est hand­i­cap can make the dif­fer­ence. So, take those reels to the tackle shop and get them re­spooled for 2019.

Hooks: There was a time when car­ry­ing a sharp­en­ing stone and touch­ing up old hooks was the smart move, but that time has long since passed. To­day’s high-qual­ity hooks are chem­i­cally and laser- sharp­ened. Take one out of the pack­age, use it a time or two, and it will never again be as sharp. Add a full sea­son of use with a cou­ple touch-ups along the way, and re­gard­less of how hard you work on that tip, it will be dull in com­par­i­son to a new one. Pitch it and buy a batch of fresh hooks be­fore the new fish­ing sea­son. Fish­bites, Gulps and other syn­thetic baits: Once you’ve cracked the pack­age, de­spite the zip­per-lock seals, most syn­thetic scented and fla­vored baits quickly lose their ap­peal. Gulp baits will usu­ally shrivel and harden af­ter a few months. Yes, the plas­tic jars with juice slosh­ing around in­side do help the bait last longer, but over time, the jar weak­ens and breaks, spilling the odor­if­er­ous fluid on a seat cush­ion or car­pet­ing. Less-volatile ar­ti­fi­cial baits also fade over time. You’ll catch more fish if you sim­ply buy a new batch when the sea­son starts.

Rub­ber bands and bal­loons: Have you ever made a 50-mile run off­shore, only to be flum­moxed when rub­ber bands break with lit­tle to no pres­sure, or bal­loons pop upon in­fla­tion? These sim­ple, yet some­times im­per­a­tive items need reg­u­lar re­place­ment. The dawn of a new fish­ing sea­son is the right time to throw away the old stuff and buy a fresh sup­ply. Pre-tied rigs and lead­ers: Yes, it’s painful to chuck those chunk­ing rigs and toss the tandems. But if they’ve been sit­ting coiled for the past year, mem­ory will plague them. If you fished with them ex­ten­sively through the past sea­son, they’re prob­a­bly nicked or worn. And in both cases, like the mono on a spool, they’ve

al­most cer­tainly de­te­ri­o­rated, sim­ply be­cause of age. Cut off the hard­ware, buy a spool of fresh leader and start re­ty­ing those rigs.

Bat­ter­ies: All kind of tools de­pend on bat­ter­ies, in­clud­ing flash­lights, head­lamps, satel­lite mes­sen­gers, hand­held GPS de­vices and VHF ra­dios. You can wait un­til the day you press the power but­ton and noth­ing hap­pens, or you can re­place those bat­ter­ies as a mat­ter of an­nual prac­tice.

The bro­ken stuff: This is ev­ery­thing you should have re­placed last year. You know what you let go for too long: the land­ing net with a hole big enough for a 20-inch striper to swim through; the rusty pli­ers that re­quire both hands to pry open; the bait knife with the tip bro­ken off; the reel with a drag as smooth as bro­ken glass. “De­layed main­te­nance” is a term of en­dear­ment. If you looked at this stuff 12 months ago and knew it was shot, then take this op­por­tu­nity to fi­nally fix or re­place it.

There’s your list. Now get out there and go shop­ping, you tight­wad.

A new, ra­zor-sharp hook can bring the fish into the boat.

To catch more fish, get your gear in tip-top shape.

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