OFFSEASON TACKLE CARE AND RESTORATION
December 31, 1999 - Suffice it to say that even the most hardy of fly-fishermen have finally abandoned the season and thoughts of spending time behind the vise or tinkering with tackle is becoming more evident. Over the years Ive considered myself somewhat of a freak when it comes to the care and service of my fly-fishing tackle and have stumbled upon some unique, time tested, methods of extending its life span. As we all should realize, the saltwater environment is a nasty advisory and requires special attention when addressing issues of tackle care and maintenance.
Care of fly lines: All fly lines should be removed from their current spools and washed in warm soapy (a small amount of ivory liquid works great) water then wiped dry with a clean soft towel. Its also a great idea to air dry the line for a few hours before proceeding to the next step. Contrary to popular belief, NEVER store a washed line for long periods of time without applying some form of conditioner or dressing. I prefer either Scientific Anglers Fly Line Dressing, or, Loon Line Speed for this task. A good lubricated dressing is essential to preventing cracks and hardening over long periods of storage. For maximum results, apply either product in the evening and allow to "cure" overnight, then buff out the entire line in the morning. Now that the line has been properly cleaned and dressed, seek out an old coffee can or item with a similar diameter and loosely wrap the line around the circumference, while tapping both ends to the can. When cleaning a number of lines, dont forget to mark the line weight on the can with a marker, and also make note of the taper of the line. The tapered forward section should be wrapped first, too allow for an easy transfer when reloading it onto a reel come spring. A quick way to recognize the tapered end of your line is to leave an inch or two of backing attached to the rear running line portion, this leaves no room for error and makes for quick identification. Be sure to store your lines in a cool dark place away from harmful UV rays.
Care of fly reels: All fly reels should be disassembled and given a through bath in warm soapy water, patted dry with a soft towel and air dried for a least a few hours. If there remains any excess moisture it should be absorbed with a clean, soft towel. A synthetic lubricant should then be applied with a cotton swab to all reel gears, spindles, shafts and bearings. The best product developed to handle this task is Loons Reel Lube, it reduces wear, repels water and inhibits rust. Cork drag reels should be given a modest coating of needsfoot oil applied directly to the drag surface. The exterior housing can be given a light bath in LPS or WD40. This is easily accomplished by soaking a clean rag in either product and applying liberally to the entire reel frame. The reel should then be reassembled and stored with the drag entirely "OFF." This is a must, particularly with cork drag reels.
Care of fly rods: Fly rods should also receive the warm water bath treatment, wiped dry with a clean towel and air dried for a few hours. While soaking, inspect for salt mold and debris and address the area with a soft bristle tooth brush or similar. These trouble spots are very common under larger stripping guides and nooks and crannies around reel seats. Roll the flint from a matchbook cover into a pencil-sized tube and run it through all guides including the tip top. The flint is not abrasive enough to damage the guides finish but will remove any pitted or scored areas and provide a smooth, friction free casting surface when put into action next spring. I will do this 10 or 15 times throughout the season and believe me you notice the difference. Spray the entire rod surface, including the reel seat with LPS or WD40, and wipe with a soft, clean towel. This thin film will help dissuade rusting, mold and mildew during periods of storage. At this point inspect your rod bag. DO NOT return your rod to a sock that displays even the slightest bit of moisture. Its a good idea to thoroughly wash and dry all rod socks being used for storage. This will prevent mold, mildew and condensation from occurring and possibly causing permanent damage to a reel seat, cork grip, etc. Keep in mind that many aluminum rod tubes do not have vent holes in their caps to allow its contents to dry properly. And finally, make sure to store rods in a dry area free of moisture.
Maintaining your equipment can be both fun and functional, and, this ounce of prevention can secure your investment for many seasons to come.
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