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Tackle maintenance is a very important part of fishing. It is the one aspect of the sport however that I have seen neglected most often. A good number of fishing enthusiasts simply use their equipment until it breaks. I guess they subscribe to "Murphy's Law", "if it isn't broken don't fix it". I can go along with this theory when it comes to my lawnmower, if it breaks while I'm mowing my lawn I get the day off and probably get to go fishing. Fishing tackle for the serious fisherperson however is a different story, if it breaks it may possibly mean losing the fish of a lifetime. "Al's Fishing Law" says "when your tackle breaks it is due to the fact that you finally hooked the monster you have been dreaming about and your tackle wasn't in good enough condition to handle it".

Most people are conscientious about washing down their rods and reels after use in salt water, but in many cases that is about as far as it goes. To keep tackle operating properly and doing what it was designed to do requires more attention than just a wash job. There are a number of minor maintenance activities that should be performed regularly during the fishing season. Checking for line chafe, spraying metal parts with light oil and lubricating moving parts. Quality equipment that has been properly set up prior to the start of the season should only require this minimal attention. The "off season" provides the opportunity to attend to major cleaning, repair and fine tuning of tackle.

Major cleaning and repair of tackle should include a complete disassembly of reels with lubrication and drag washer inspection and/or replacement at least every other season. Regardless of the amount of use, salt has a way of getting into the internal parts of a fishing reel and causing damage. Of course reels that are used frequently should be completely torn down and serviced yearly if not more often. This type of servicing of sophisticated reels can be quite challenging for the beginner, but for anyone with a little mechanical ability and some patience, it can be mastered. Rods will rarely require more than a good cleaning except for replacement of damaged guides. Guide wrapping involves quite a bit of skill but it can be accomplished by anyone willing to learn the basic techniques and spend a little time at it. This is exactly the way I got into building my own custom rods. For many people who lack such skills or those that just lack the time to do so, the best bet is to have the local tackle repair shop handle the more involved repairs.

Other than a complete tear down of a reel or the re-wrapping or replacement of a guide, most other maintenance can be performed by the individual. In addition to general maintenance, there are a number of things that I call fine tuning of tackle that should be done during the off season. These are things that not only help the tackle perform better but also simplify the maintenance process. In the normal course of events, deficiencies in tackle are noticed or occur while fishing. A rough or chattering drag or a small abrasion far up on the running line are common occurrences that require attention before the next fishing trip. This presents a problem when using matched tackle as is common these days for people that are serious about their fishing. When returning to the dock, it is difficult if not impossible to determine exactly which outfit requires attention when two or more are identical. To simplify this task I use a numbering system for each outfit. I use a label gun to pop out consecutive numbers for each rod in an identical set. I attach the number labels to the side plates of each reel. If a problem develops while fishing I just note the number of the outfit and will know exactly which outfit requires attention when I return to the dock.

This numbering system is also useful in other ways. I keep a small log/notebook to record any noteworthy information about each fishing outfit. The date, pound test and brand of line last spooled on the reel; the date of the last drag washer change or major service; any oddities about its operation that might require attention are all helpful in maintaining fishing gear in tip-top condition.

Good Fishing, Captain Al Lorenzetti Captain Al Lorenzetti 1996


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