As the trout season approaches it’s always a good idea to give all your kit a quick check to make sure everything is in order before you hit the river. It only takes a few minutes and is well worth the effort.
First check your rod. Examine the blank for cracks, paying particular attention to the joins. Check the joints for grit and sand and if necessary give them a clean. Make sure they fit snugly together and don’t come loose while you’re fishing. If you find they do come loose a light application of candle wax rubbed on the male part of the joint will usually cure this. Next check the condition of the cork on the handle and check the reel seat. Give the threads on the reel seat a clean and make sure there’s no grit or sand in the threads. An old toothbrush (or someone else’s toothbrush) is ideal for this. Check the eyes for damage or roughness. If they are damaged they will ruin your line and you should consider having them replaced.
Next check your line. If possible, pull all of your line off the reel and examine it closely for signs of damage or cracks. If it’s dirty (if you’ve been a bit lazy and not cleaned it for a while it probably will be) then cleaning is essential. Some lukewarm water and mild detergent will do the trick. I usually soak a soft cloth and pull the whole of the line through it a couple of times. You’ll be surprised how much dirt there can be on the surface of the line. Next, dry it thoroughly and apply a line treatment. The line treatment will make the line slicker and keep the coating supple helping it cast better, float better and lie straighter. Your line will stay in good condition and last longer if you do this regularly. It’s also a good idea to apply line treatment to a new line before you use it for the same reasons. If it’s a floating line you should apply some Mucilin to the last 4 or 5 yards of the line to make it float well and sit higher in the water. A little careful line maintenance can make a huge difference to your fishing. If you use a braided loop check its condition and replace if necessary. You should also apply Mucilin to the braided loop to keep it floating well.
Remove the spool from your reel and make sure there’s no grit or sand in behind it. Grit and sand gets everywhere! Unless you are very sure of what you’re doing you shouldn’t attempt to dismantle the reel. A little clean and some light lubrication to the bearing and shaft should be sufficient.
Make sure all your tippet material is ok. This should always be stored in a cool dark place. Sunlight wrecks monofilament and copolymers. If you’re unsure about its condition then ditch it. If you hook an early season biggy and your tippet’s in poor condition it could easily snap.
Check all your flies, making sure the hooks are nice and sharp and not rusted. Give your box a pre-season Spring clean. A nice orderly box saves you time on the bank when you have to change flies.
Lastly, check the condition of waders. Mice love neoprene and if you keep yours in a shed the mice like nothing more than having a chomp on them. Check for punctures or perishing and check the condition of the seams. Any small repairs can be made with Stormsure or Aquasure.
So that’s just about it for the pre-season check list. Now we just have to be patient and wait for the 1st of April.