Brad Laabs: Fix small problems before they become big ones
I have a few common sense suggestions that may help make fishing over your holiday, or anytime for that matter, be more trouble free. Nothing can detract from a vacation fishing trip like contending with equipment problems.
One of the most common solvable problems starts with your fishing line. If your line is old (hold over from last year), change it. Fresh line could make the difference between a fish picture and a fish story. Take off the old line, dispose of it properly, and re-spool with new line. In most applications, especially in the early season with minimal weed growth, 6-8lb test line will be fine. You can buy a spool and re-spool several reels by leaving a backing on about a 1/3 of the reel, or take your spools in to a bait/tackle store that does line winding.
Line twist can also be a problem for monofilament lines. Line twist can make casting or letting out line very frustrating, not to mention getting wrapped around rod tips or guides. A solution to solve the problem other than taking the line off and re-spooling, is to cut the jig/rig/lure off and drag the line in the water at about one mile per hour for a minute or two. Let about 2/3 of the line out while trolling with nothing on the line. Keep the rod tip low to the water to keep the line in the water. Reel the line back in and cut the last couple feet off the line (as all the twist will end up at the end of the line). Tie your jig/rig/lure on and you are good to go with trouble free fishing from your line.
Reels can be another source of frustration if they aren’t working properly. Wipe down your reel with a cloth or paper towel to remove dirt, dust or fishing grim that may have accumulated or been left on the reel from last year. A few drops of oil on moving parts helps smooth the reel out. Do not dunk your dirty reel in the water to clean it off as you may turn the dirt on the outside to mud on the inside of your reel. Most of the time, when a reel has been sitting without being used, the drag will be sticky. Loosen the drag and turn the spool with your fingers back and forth a couple of times, tighten the drag slightly and repeat, then set your drag to your liking and you will have a drag that works for you when you need it.
One problem I continue to see and have to solve with rod repair is anglers pulling line straight back on the rod with pressure to hook their lure. Pulling line straight back against the tip can snap the rod tip. Let enough line out to hook your lure to the rod with slack line and then tighten your line. This can prevent a rod repair or replacement! If your rod has a hook holder on it, use it. If it doesn’t, you can buy add-on hook keepers. Do not hook your jig, hook, or lure in your guide. A nick in the guide can translate to nicks in your fishing line. Watch the way the line reels in with a spinning rod, or the way the line goes out on a cast on a level wind/bait casting reel. You will notice the line rotating against the guide. If you are going to hook to the guide, hook to the foot of the guide and you won’t create any problems for yourself. If you have a guide that has a nick or rough spot that can affect your line, 600 grit sandpaper lightly sanded in the guide should take care of the problem.
Trouble starting or keeping your motor running? Most of the early season motor problems are caused by bad gas. Start with getting your old gas out of the tank, burn it your car. Treat your boat motor to fresh fuel. Starting and smooth running are many times not problems with the motor, but problems with the fuel. If you ran the old fuel too long before changing to fresh fuel, you may need a set of spark plugs and a fuel system cleaner to get your motor running right. If those interventions aren’t helping, you may be looking at a repair bill with your marine mechanic.
I hope you are having a great fishing holiday and may the rest of your summer be filled with great fishing adventures.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)