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As an experienced angler, you are aware of the best local spots for catching different fish depending on the seasons. You also know how to choose a fishing rod that suits your needs, and you’ve established which baits and lures work for which fish—but how well do you take care of your fishing rod?
Like any sort of maintenance, looking after your fishing equipment can be a tedious job, and it’s all too easy to put off, especially after a long fishing trip. But spending a bit of time and energy after an angling adventure can prolong the life of your rod and save you money in the long run.
We’ve compiled a shortlist of some easy steps you can take to keep your fishing rod in the best possible condition.
Be Gentle with Your Rod
Despite the extreme forces placed on rods while angling, they are fragile. Even small knocks and bumps can lead to scratches and nicks that weaken the rod and cause breakage. Take care not to hit your rod on anything while carrying it, and make sure it is laid on a flat surface in your vehicle, as bumping against the uneven ground as you drive will damage your blank. Rod sleeves can help protect rods while traveling.
Service Your Reel Annually
Your reel is your most critical piece of equipment, and you should do everything you can to keep it in optimal working order. Giving it a full service once a year after the fishing season is over ensures you maintain its performance. Take everything apart and clean each piece individually to keep it in great condition.
Wax Your Ferrules
Regularly rubbing your rod’s ferrules (the joints) with candle wax or paraffin prevents friction, protects the rod from wearing, and allows you to separate the parts more easily.
How to Store Your Fishing Rod
If you want to ensure your fishing rods last as long as possible, it’s essential you take care of them even when you’re not using them. That means storing them in the best possible way. Some top tips for fishing rod storage include:
Store Them Vertically
Whether you use a purpose-built rack or mount hangers to the wall, keeping your rods upright can prevent the blanks from bending. If you have to store them horizontally, always check the tips aren’t weighed down, bending the blank; otherwise, over time, the rod will become permanently curved.
Utilize Rod Sleeves or Cases
Rod sleeves aren’t just useful for storing rods; they also protect them when you’re traveling and stop them from getting tangled together. Make sure you get the right size, as any pressure on the rods could bend them or create a weak spot on the blank.
Store in a Dry Place
Moisture can destroy all sorts of materials, and your fishing rod is no different. If left in a damp or humid area, the reel, reel seat, and guide rings may corrode. One way to keep your rods away from damp is to store them off the ground. You could also consider investing in a dehumidifier or keeping silica gel pouches in your rod sleeves.
Keep Away from Heat
While rods are partially resistant to cold temperatures, they can be weakened by heat, particularly parts of the rod that are glued. It’s recommended not to store your rod anywhere with a consistent temperature of above 110℉. It can be tempting to temporarily keep your rods in your car or truck, but this is not recommended in the summer, as vehicles can get extremely hot.
Loosen the Drag
Fishing reels, from baitcasting reels to trolling reels, tend to be composed of many small mechanical pieces that can be damaged by tight drags over time. Loosening the drag also helps avoid snapped lines and bent blanks.
How to Clean Your Fishing Rod
Proper cleaning of your fishing rod and reel dramatically increases the longevity of your equipment. Often, the last thing you want to do after a long fishing trip is cleaning, but investing a little bit of time in keeping them spic and span will save you a lot of money long-term. Follow these tips on how to clean your rods and reels properly:
Clean After Every Saltwater Trip
If you’re fishing in freshwater, you don’t need to clean your reel more than once every four or five trips. However, saltwater is extremely corrosive, and you must make sure you rinse off your rod and reel before storing it. It’s also a good idea to remove the line and reel before storing a saltwater rod.
Always Clean Your Guides
Whether you’re winter bass fishing or fishing for catfish in the summer, your guides will get a lot of build-up on them, from vegetation to minerals, and this can easily lead to a broken line. The inside and outside of guides are easily cleaned with a Q-tip or a small, soft plastic brush. However, you should never use a wire brush. Keep these items on you when fishing, for cases when you get extreme build-up—such as on hot days when dirt dries on the guides.
Avoid using harsh products on your fishing pole. All you need is lukewarm water and vinegar or a mild detergent for a thorough cleaning.
Remember, moisture can cause rust and other damage, so always make sure both your rod and reel are dried well after cleaning.
Once you get into a routine, you will find your fishing rod maintenance isn’t such a big job. Thoroughly cleaning your rods and reels, finding a suitable place to store your equipment, and making small adjustments to the way you transport your rods will become a habit. And, as you begin to notice that your equipment lasts longer, you’ll be glad you invested the time and effort into taking such good care of them.