I see it happen day after day in the bait shop: Someone will bring in an expensive rod and reel, hand it to me, and tell me it won’t reel or the guides are falling off the rod. Upon further inspection, the whole thing is coated with sand and salt.
Well now, there’s your problem — no maintenance. There are a few simple things you can do to ensure your gear won’t fail you on those precious days out on the water.
Being a guide and offering instructional trips on customer’s boats, one of the things I see a lot is people putting rods in their upper rod holders in the hot sun. The heat liquefies the grease in the reel and it all runs to the bottom of the reel. When it cools, it solidifies all in one spot and causes the reel to crank very rough.
I like to take those reels out of the upper holders and place them on the lower ones when I remove the ones I’m gonna use, just to get them out of the direct sunlight. If you forget to do this or just don’t have room below, lay the reels down flat and allow the grease to cool before you rinse them off. This will allow the grease to disperse in the reel instead of collecting in one place in the reel .
There are two methods I use to clean my rods and reels after a long day of saltwater fishing. Method one is the “I’m dang tired” way. I stand my reels up after they have been in the shade for a bit, turn the hose nozzle on mist and lightly rinse the reels. I rinse the rod guides as well, because the inserts are press-fit in and any corrosion on a guide will cause them to pop out.
The method I prefer takes longer. I will always do this method at least one out of three trips. I remove the reels from the rods, take a damp cloth and wipe my reels down with it (line and all). Then I take the cloth and wipe down the rods, paying particular attention to the ceramic inserts, looking for corrosion or chips.
After I’m done with that, I take Penn reel cleaner, spray it on another cloth, and wipe both rod and reel down with it. When that process is done, I use a product called Get Some to lightly spray my reels, then wipe off any excess with a cloth. If you follow these simple steps, you will add years to the life of your equipment.
Hooks are constantly rusting in marine conditions. To avoid that problem, I take the hooks out of the leaky packages and place them in jewelry-size plastic zipper bags with a packet of moisture-absorbent silica. There you go — no rusty hooks.
The next item I pay special attention to is my boat. After each trip, I always rinse it down with fresh water, flush the motor, and hose down the trailer. Once a month, I check the grease in the bearings.
I make sure to change the oil, oil filter and lower unit grease on time, and use the recommended products for the job. It’s important if possible to cover your boat and not park it under trees for shade. If leaves fall in, you’ve got some nasty stains. If your boat is stored in the water, make sure you have a good bottom paint to prevent barnacles from covering the bottom of the hull and seriously affecting the boat’s performance.
Don’t forget some maintenance for yourself. Use sunblock, wear sunglasses and sun protective clothing, and drink plenty of water to protect the most important thing in your fishing arsenal — yourself.
Remember, get your kids hooked on fishing and they won’t be able to afford drugs.
Capt. Steve “Pegleg” Phillips owns and operates Southern Charm Charters, with his wife Heather as occasional first mate. If you’re wondering why his friends call him Pegleg, stop in at Fishin’ Frank’s and meet him. For charter info, contact him at 678-787-4750 or through his Facebook page at https://bit.ly/2vesgVn.