Winter Fishing

Winter Fishing Tackle Maintenance Projects

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As the cold winter weather descends on most of the country anglers start to get cabin fever and look for ways to get their bass fishing fix that may or may not include actually fishing. Winter is a great time to take care of the little things that will make spring even better.
There are several things we do each winter that we thought we might pass along to help Wired readers get a leg up on springtime and have all of their gear in top notch condition when the weather breaks.
Reel Maintenance
Winter is a great time to take care of your reels. There are several great reel cleaning and maintenance kits out there but we prefer the Ardent Reel Kleen Cleaning Kit. It has everything you need to get your favorite reel back in “like new” condition including Reel Butter Oil and Grease, Reel Clean, a multi-tool screwdriver, cleaning swabs, brush, and a silicone treated towel. It also gives directions so even a novice can service their own reels.
Reel care includes both the outside and inside of the reel. We typically start on the inside where gears and springs need lubrication. We include all moveable parts and anglers should know that some parts need grease and others oil so follow manufactures recommendations there. After the reel is lubed we work very hard on the outside of the reel as well. This is a good time to strip old line down to a backing that will be ready for new line in the spring. Loosen the drag on the reel too. We coat the backing with Line and Lure Conditioner and its ready to go.
Inventory Time
If you are like most of the anglers in the country you probably have more tackle than you can use in a lifetime. Winter is a great time to get it organized. We have a couple ways of doing that. We use pegboard like Alligator Board to hang the most used baits. Five to six packages on a peg and then put the remainder into plastic tubs. Each tub is labeled by bait, company and type and its important to replenish baits taken off the the pegs each time. We also count each color and type and use the computer to keep track of what we have and what we need. This may seem like a ton of work but once through it it enables the angler to buy only what they need and not buy on a whim.
Inventory includes everything. Plastic baits, hard baits, hooks, line, terminal tackle and boxes. We keep a ready supply of Plano 3700 boxes on hand to build travel boxes by location for the spring. Even though we have bags the best access comes out of a box and we use the boat like a giant tackle box. Extra bags are stored in tackle bags labeled for each product. We rig a box of Senko’s and Skinny Dippers in one box, Traps and Shad Raps in another and jigs and trailers in another. We also include one box for 3 or 4 types of spinnerbaits and one box for small medium diver crankbaits. Those three boxes can be a  placed in a single tackle bag with a hook and terminal tackle box and you are ready to go.
Its also important to inventory your tools this time of year as well. Scissors, pliers, clippers and a small pocket knife are critical items in that bag.
One trick we have also used is a small deck box with a few of each of the baits you will use for the day. Its an easy way to have everything at your finger tips and not have to dig into a compartment when you are in a hurry. This box works well velcroed on the bottom side of the box with latch. It won’s slide and attaches temporarily to the carpet. Note: Make sure you move the box to the floor of the boat when running!
Working on baits
Winter time is not only a great time to inventory but also is a great time to work on individual baits. We like to go over each one, change out hooks if needed and with a good Luhr Jenson 4.5 inch file add a point if one is needed. A general rule however is,  if a hook is bent or a hook point is turned….Replace the hook. We use different  VMC, Mustad and Gamakatsu hooks based on application for replacements and they can be purchased in bulk.
Spinnerbaits can also be tweaked in the winter. New skirts may be needed so replace them. If the skirt is held on with a rubber ring use a light wire like that used for hanging pictures and hand tie the skirt. Nothing is more aggrevating than pulling out a spinnerbait and having the skirt fall apart. Blades can be polished now too. We use a wadding material for chrome called Nevr Dull and it can make an old blade look like new again. It protects and cleans. A small soft buffing rag should be used after the wadding to bring luster back to the blades.
Rod Care
Each winter we wipe down every rod. We use a non-abrasive soap on the cork and a protectant like Bow to Stern on the rods. Check each guide with a cotton Q-tip for abrasions and replace bad guides. The reel seat should also be given a good wiping and use BTS there as well. BTS is environmentally safe and does not leave a residue.
Its good to loosen the drag on reels kept on rods and take off all baits. Keeping a rod in a bent condition over the winter is not recommended.
Store loose rods in a 5 gallon bucket butt first or purchase a rod rack. We always keep the wrapping the rod came in for winter storage. Simply slide the opened wrapper over the rod and it will stay dust free.
By doing the things mentioned above you will find that they work better in the spring and it also makes the winter go faster. Spring is just around the corner!