Proper open-water rod storage techniques for the winter off-season
So often as the open-water angling season ends, anglers toss rods in a garage corner until spring. Don’t do it! Take time now to properly care for your equipment, and it’ll be ready to go next spring.
For starters, unless you want to lose a fish at an inopportune time next summer, don’t hang your rods from the tip guide. That’s a great way to loosen or flat-out break your rod tip. And you may not realize it until the pressure from a fighting fish busts it off.
Store your rods in an upright or vertical rod storage system. Some guys build their own with upright 12-inch pieces of PVC pipe or you can purchase a storage system to support the butt section of the rod. It’s that easy.
Back off and loosen those drags if they’re tight, but don’t replace the line now for open water 2016. Go ahead and remove old line, but don’t place new line until next spring. Placing line on a reel in November will create memory in the line, plus it will begin to lose its elasticity over the winter months.
Take time now to scribble some mental notes about what gear you might need for next spring. That gives you four months to watch retail sales and time your equipment purchases. Match your rod-and-reel combo with type of lures that we’ll use and the species.
It’s not a big personal priority for me, but some guys insist on cleaning the cork handles of their rods every spring. Buy cleaner to handle that task, and also consider lubricating your reels. Fish a lot and you’ll get sand or grit in them, so dismantle your reels, then clean and lubricate them.
Final pro tip: Check your rod guides by rotating a Q-tip or cotton swab through the rod guide. If any cotton sticks, you need to replace the rod guide, because you likely have a knick or burr that will damage your line.
That’s a simple fix now that could ensure a trophy fish next spring.
I know you’ve got ice fishing on the mind, but take a few minutes now, and give proper care to your long rods and reels.