If you’re looking forward to summer fishing at the cottage, this is the time to prepare your gear. A few simple tune-ups now will prevent disappointment and frustration out on the water.
Inspect the inside of the top guide for nicks or cracks. Even a slight abrasion here can cut your line, especially when a fish is pulling hard. Worn top guides can’t be fixed, but they’re cheap and easy to replace. Wipe down the connection points on multi-piece rods, and rub them with candle wax so the sections fit together and come apart easily.
Beyond keeping sand and grit from getting into the housing—as in, don’t drop it on the beach or drag it through dirt—most reels require little maintenance. But, if the handle or the spool isn’t running smoothly, lubricate it with a drop of light machine oil. A more likely trouble spot is your line. Both time and UV exposure significantly degrade monofilament fishing line. If it looks milky or is more than five years old, replace it.
The number one way to ensure fish that bite actually end up caught is to sharpen your hooks using a fine-grit hook hone or file. These cost about $10 at any tackle store. Using short, exact strokes, draw the hook across the hone, point first. This direction feels counterintuitive at first, but it’s more precise. Sharpen all sides of the hook point, then lightly pull it along your fingernail. If the point catches, it’s ready to fish.