Brad Laabs: Use this in between time to clean your equipment
It looks like we are going out of the winter and into the spring like a lion. We will most likely have a little longer than usual “tweener” season (the season between ice and open water).
This will buy all of us time to organize. We can organize as we put away all the ice gear, and start getting out and organizing the open water equipment. This is the kind of spring that will give you time to clean up all your rods and reels.
A good place to start is by stripping all the old line off of your reels if it is monofilament line. Line left on reels will develop terrible line memory and will also lose some of its strength. The line memory will give you lots of annoying loops in the line, creates significant line twist, gets a wiry feeling, and casts and performs poorly. Spend a few dollars to re-spool your reels.
If you want to make it really easy for yourself, take the line off and take the spool into a local bait shop to get re-spooled. They have line winders, large spools of fresh line of different types and pound test to meet your fishing needs. It is cheaper and easier than buying spools and doing it yourself.
The super lines are probably all still good although it can be a good idea to spool off to another spool so the line that was underneath now is on top. Doing this will extend the life of your superlines, and a person can sometimes get three or four seasons out of one of the superlines. There are no problems with line memory, deterioration or twist with these lines.
Cleaning reels will help with performance and life expectancy. Do not run them under the kitchen sink to clean them! First, wipe them down with a soft rag to get dirt, grim and oils off the exterior of the reel. Use reel oil and reel grease to lubricate your reels (WD40 and JB 80 are great products, but not for re-lubricating your reels). If you don’t feel confident in taking apart your reel, lubricating, and re-assembling, check out “YouTube” videos on the subject. Many fishermen have posted helpful visual and auditory instructions to walk you through the process. It is easier than you may think and doesn’t ever take as long as you would imagine.
To clean up your rod and get the dirt, grime, and fish scales off, use a mild detergent and a soft rag. You can use your thumbnail in the rag for some of the stubborn fish scales. Do not use a scrub brush, or brillo type pad. You can scratch the finish and even damage the outside carbon fibers on your graphite rod.
To clean up a cork handle, use denatured alcohol on a rag. For extremely dirty handles that haven’t been cleaned for years, you may want to wipe them down, let them dry completely, and then wipe them down again. You will be amazed how the denatured alcohol will give your cork handles new life. You can use a high grit sandpaper to smooth out some of the imperfection in the cork that can happen over time. Do not sand hard, just a light brushing will do the trick.
Foam handles aren’t in use as much anymore but for those that still have or use them, there is an easy solution to give them back the feel they once had. After time the oils from hands along with dirt, dust, grime, fish slime, crawler, leech and minnow slime rob the foam of the soft, spongy sensitivity they once had. Use a dish soap with a grease cutting formula to bring them back to life. You can scrub them and for long neglected handles, soak them. Clean, rinse, repeat.
If your rod has ceramic guides it is a good idea to make sure no nicks are present that could damage your line as it passes through the guides. A piece of nylon stocking pulled through the guides can tell you more than you can feel with your fingertip. If it snags up or catches at all, a light sanding with a 600 grit sandpaper will take care of the problem.
Clean the screens of your graph with white vinegar. Many glass cleaning products will damage the screen on graphs. White vinegar will clean them, get rid of water spots and help prevent water spots from forming again.
The fact we are past the middle of March and spring is looking weeks away, you will be able to get everything clean and ready, and have time to tie as many spinners as you and your family will need for the summer!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)