Winterize Your Fishing Tackle

When the New England fishing season comes to a crashing halt, most anglers are content to chuck their rods, reels, hooks, and lures in the closet, basement or shop and forget about them until the following season. When spring comes and the fish return, many are stunned to find that their tackle hasn’t fared well during its hibernation.

Tackle needs to be put away properly or problems will arise—at the worst possible time! Let’s start with rods and reels:


Remove and dispose of old line, especially monofilament. While braided line can last a couple of seasons, it’s still a good idea to remove all of it from your reels, as it invariably contains salt that can corrode the reel spool.

After the line has been removed, have your reels serviced by a professional. It’s good insurance that they’ll keep working for many years. If you don’t want to take such precautions, check the reel components to make sure they’re operating smoothly and properly. Inspect the spool lip on spinning reels for rough edges and make sure the line roller turns freely. Grease the reel as recommended by the manufacturer (just be sure not to lose any parts when you open that sucker up). Lastly, coat the spool with oil.


Check the rod guides for cracks and nicks that can cut line. Also check the guide feet for corrosion. Make sure all guide inserts are secure. Apply light oil to the reel seat and other metal parts. Apply a light coat of wax to the rod to protect the finish. If you have roller guides on your rods, take them apart, clean, and reassemble.


Remove and replace all rusty, corroded, or bent hooks. Check split rings for damage. Clip off any remaining line. Coat metal lures and hooks with anti-corrosion spray.


Store spools of fishing line and leader material in a dry, warm place. If you’re a fly fisherman, remove the fly line from your reels, clean it with soapy water, and store it in large, loose loops. Label them, too!


Nets are probably among the most neglected tackle items, and they can cost you a trophy fish if the mesh has a big hole in it. Make sure your nets are in good shape before you put them to bed for the winter. Inspect or replace the mesh, and clean and coat the metal parts with oil.