This is the time of year when the Charterboat skippers phone begins to ring and ring, with clubs and individual anglers booking boats and places on the best tides, crossing their fingers that the weather will be kind.
This is also the time of year when the tackle comes out from the corner of the garage or down from the loft and decisions have to be made. Is the reel corroded solid?? Can it be salvaged by a trip to the repair shop or did you give it a goodly squirt of WD40 before it was put away for the winter, in which case it will probably still be in good running order.
What is the line like? Are all your rod rings in good condition and so it goes on. All part of the excitement of the New Season. As a Yank I once worked for was so fond of saying "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. The infamous 6p principle!!"
So here is a New Season Checklist to get your tackle and yourself up to speed and ready for the brilliant new season which I just know is waiting for all of us!!
Eyeball your rods, check that salt water hasn't got under the whippings and rotted the ring feet.
Use a magnifying glass on a rod ring if you suspect that it is cracked. A sure-fire way to check for grooving or cracking is to wipe around the inside of the ring with a magic marker, then wipe away the ink with a tissue. The ink from the marker will have infiltrated the crack or groove and made it instantly visible under a magnifying glass.
If you have rollers, spray them with WD40 and let the oil soak in for a few hours. Then wrap some thin string around the roller and work it forth and back so that you can observe the movement of the roller. If the rollers are not free moving they are a waste of time.
Clean and grease metal ferrules, not forgetting the gimble fitting. Clean Cork or foam handles with soap and water, gently rubbing them with a plastic pot scourer to bring them up as good as new.
If your rod needs re-ringing or even a complete rebuild give Custom Rodbuilder Julian Shambrook a call on 01 803 231 331 to get him at his workshop. A re-ringing job will cost you about £40's
Modern boat reels are not cheap and deserve to be cared for. At the end of a days fishing wash them under a gentle flow of fresh water, allow to drain, wipe with a towel or tissue and spray with WD 40. Store them in a drawer or cupboard, not wrapped in a damp rag or bag.
Ensure that the clutch is slackened right back when storing for any length of time.
Before the new season, check all the screws for tightness, grease the levelwind and handle. If everything is functioning well, leave it alone and get on with your fishing. If it is a poorly reel, resist the temptation to have a go. Send it to someone like Ian Rose at Seaside Tackle(01 803 529 953) or Nigel Frith at NJF Tackle(041 795 471 697)and get it back working like new. Typical prices are £8's for a multiplier service and £5 for a fixed spool service. Is it worth doing it yourself?????
It is easy to say 'change your line at least once every year whether it needs it or not'. Which truthfully is the best thing to do. But if you have only fished with it a dozen times, it is likely that you might well get another dozen trips out of it.
A simple rule of thumb which has worked well for me is to change all the light line, say under 20 pounds, quite frequently. Over 20lbs you will get away with a couple of seasons if you do not fish regularly. But after a couple of seasons it should be changed no matter how often it has been used because monofilament gets tired, losing some of its elasticity as chemicals evaporate and leach out in the sun and water. Resist the temptation to buy monster spools because logically that line will be as old as the stuff you are taking off your reel. Buy a 300 yard spool of fresh line from a busy tackle shop that sells a lot of line so that you do not end up with old stock.
If you are using Super Braid, eyeball the line looking for little tufts and frays. If you find any, be utterly ruthless and chop that part of the line out. Superbraid is great line but when it starts to go it goes very quickly, so keep your eye on it. I turn my superbraid around after a seasons use, provided it is in good condition and dump it after two seasons.
3. End Tackle.
Go through your tackle box with a highly critical eye. Anything that even looks green or rusty should be ruthlessly discarded. Check your hooks, sharpening and cleaning where necessary. Give them a spray of WD40, it does not seem to effect their catching capabilities, in fact some say that WD40 actually improves it.
Spools of leader line are one of those things which must be new each season. If you have made up rigs in a wallet, check them out and replace as necessary.
4. Knives and lines snips.
Folding fillet knives such as the Normark are the best knives to use for cleaning, filleting and preparing bait. There is nothing more dangerous than a fixed blade filleting knife on a boat that is rocking and rolling in a sea. A folding knife can be wiped off, folded and put in your pocket, posing no danger to anyone. Makes a lot of sense!!
Cutting leader line is best done with a pair of side cut pliers or a pair of mini Leatherman snips. Not only does it do a better job, but again there is no danger to anyone else.
This is the time of year to soak your floatsuit in the bath (on a day when her indoors has gone shopping or something) to get rid of dried-on bits and pieces and other pong making etceteras. Add a little detergent and let it soak for an hour. Gentle scrubbing and then a cool rinse will get it back as clean as you can get it. Suspend it on a hanger, letting it dry and air for a day or two, before putting it back in its bag.
Somehow this cleaning, oiling, polishing and sorting seems to set the scene for the days ahead. It might be called a labour of love but that 6p principle works its own magic.
Good luck for the new season.
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