Tips For Fishing Gear Maintenance: Rods & Reels, Waders, And Fly Lines


Written by: Isobella Ash

Most fishing gear will last for years if you treat it right, and incorrect storage can shorten that life span or ruin the aesthetics of a fine rod or reel. For instance, C. Boyd Pfeiffer, the godfather of tackle craft, tells of how he put a fly rod away wet, and when he retrieved it in the spring it was covered by tiny white blisters under the finish. To help you avoid such an unwelcome surprise, here are some tips for taking care of your fishing rods & reels and other fishing gear maintenance.

Pfeiffer notes that taking several rods into the shower with you is a convenient way to clean your fishing rods quickly. An old toothbrush is perfect for lightly scrubbing around the hardware and guides of your rod and you can use the same toothbrush for getting all sand, salt, and grime off your reels.  

Don’t forget to take the lines off all reels before you wash them (although you can leave the backing on). Make sure you rinse all parts thoroughly and put them on a towel to dry. When one side is completely dry, flip the parts over, so any water hiding in nooks and crannies can run out. Do this a few times. 

To maintain your fishing gear, check all the guides and ferrules to ensure they are in good shape. Apply ferrule wax to the male ends of the ferrules. Check the reel seat to make sure the threads are clear of debris. 

If your reel requires lubricant (although few modern models do), follow the manufacturer’s instructions for doing so. Make sure all screws are tight. Do a final inspection to see if you missed any sand or salt residue. 

After you clean your fishing rods, be sure that they are completely dry before you put them in their socks or tubes. Arrange your rod tubes horizontally, rather than standing upright. Finally, Pfeiffer suggests that you leave the end caps off entirely to allow the rods to “breathe” during the long months of storage. 

The big enemy of reels is corrosion, so, again, making sure everything is fully dry is key to fishing gear maintenance. You can choose to store them in their bags, but leave a gap in the opening to allow any moisture to escape. Before you put a reel away for the winter, back the drag off completely. This will reduce wear and tear on the discs or other components. 

The Best Way To Store Waders

Don’t forget your waders when you maintain your fishing gear! You should rinse your waders out completely, wiping off any dirt or salt, and hang them to dry. Then turn them inside out and allow them to hang for a while longer to air them out. 

Check them for wear and tear or leaks. If there are abrasions or nicks that look like they may become leaks, you might want to do a prophylactic repair with a patch kit.  

The best way to store waders that are breathable is to hang them, but not by the suspenders or the boot feet. Instead, drape them over a hanger, allowing air to circulate all around them. This way, you don’t stress the suspenders or where the wader and boot material come together. 

Caring For Fly lines

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your fly lines. Using dish soap will actually remove the slick coating, so don’t do that. A moist cloth will usually do the trick. Checking the line for nicks, and testing the loops at both ends to ensure that they are still strong is crucial to caring for fly lines. Once you’re done cleaning your fly lines, they should be clearly labelled and hung in loose coils over a hook or a nail. This will keep them from developing too much memory over the winter. 

Make sure you keep up with your fishing gear maintenance to stay on perfect form while on your fly fishing adventures. 

Tight Lines!

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