It’s early March and most of the hunting seasons are over, yet, spring is still a few weeks away. The question is, what do you do with that idle time other than dream of that first angling adventure? How about taking a close look at all that stored fishing equipment that may be in a corner of the garage or still in the boat from the last trip months ago! Having it ready in perfect working order for that first trip to Roosevelt or one of the trout lakes can certainly make any fishing trip more enjoyable.
Fishing reels that are not in good working order can be a real frustration when you get that opportunity to go to the lake for the first time this spring. Reels have many external moveable parts that need cleaning after a season of use but, if you are like most of us, we store them away and forget about them until after hunting season.
Now is the time to take each reel and apply a light soap and water solution with an old toothbrush by gently scrubbing where old oil has collected dirt and grime. Once this is done, quickly dry with a soft rag or paper towel. A word of warning is necessary, do not immerse the reel in the solution. After it is completely dry, apply a single drop of lightweight reel oil to each moveable part location.
If there is something broken or a part that is worn it is best not to open the outer casing of the reel and try to fix it. Having owned a tackle shop, I have dealt with numerous frustrated anglers who brought me in a partially assembled reel with a bag of spare parts in hopes that I could fix it. The best solution was to send it off to the product manufacturer with an explanation and plead for mercy.
When the reel is in need of repair it is far better to send it to the service department of the manufacturer. Leading brand name reels such as Quantum, Phleuger, Shimano, or Abu Garcia have excellent service departments that can be contacted by going to their Web site and search for customer service. A quick e-mail or toll free phone call will get the process moving. Remember, they want your business and a satisfied customer will continue to buy their product. In most cases the turnaround time is very quick during the off-season, less than two weeks. By May, the time without your favorite reel due to increased demand in the service department may be as long as 30 days.
Once a reel is in good working order, it is necessary to strip all of the old line that may have been on the spool for as long as 6 months. There are often times nicks or abrasions that can occur for a variety of reasons by the average angler. Every spot will create a weakness in the tensile strength and increase the chance of losing a fish. Most reels will have a recommendation on the correct poundage to use and the amount of line that can be stored on the spool for optimum performance.
Many anglers can only use 25 to 30 yards on a maximum cast with a large spinning reel or a baitcaster. A handy tip is to fill the tightest part of the spool with line that is only used as backing, then tie the new line with a small knot and fill the remaining part of the spool with the quality line. I would also recommend not to put the new line on the reel until you are ready to make that first trip to the lake. If it is an open face spinning reel, use the tensile strength recommended for the particular make and model. Too heavy or too light a line will reduce the effectiveness of the cast. A full reel has a sizable lip remaining at the top of the spool which holds the line on the reel when the bail is open.
The next time you are looking for something to do on a cold and snowy day, inspect all those stored away fishing reels. A simple exterior reel cleanup and the necessary repairs done now will get you ready for that first springtime trip which is not far away. This weekend, think fishing and enjoy God’s creation, the Arizona Rim Country.