Offseason tips for preserving your valuable equipment, to save some money and make you a better prepared angler come spring.
Surf fishing can be an expensive sport. But it does not have to be if you take care of your equipment and keep your expenses down. Doing so can even make you a better surf angler.
Sure, you’ll be dropping off reels for servicing, rinsing, drying and storing hooks and plugs, maybe even re-spooling during down time – but there are several other things you can do during the downtime this month to help prep for the spring season.
It doesn’t matter if you are a bait dunker or a lure worker – or a combination of the two – because there is something on the list for all anglers to consider. Saving money and becoming a better angler: now that is a winning combination.
Fishing at night or in low-light situations can be challenging, particularly if you are fishing bait. Sometimes you can simply lose sight of where you left your gear along a dark shoreline. If you use reflective tape on sand spikes, bucket and tackle box, it is very easy to flash a beam of light to where you think they are in the darkness and spot them quickly.
Reflective tapes can be purchased in most any hardware store; they are not expensive and easy to affix to your gear. I prefer red but they are also available in white.
Electrical Cable Ties
Soft baits like clams are often difficult to keep securely on a hook. Specialty threads are the traditional way of coping with this challenge but tying those threads in cold weather when your hands are handicapped by extreme temperatures can be very difficult. Plastic electrical cable pull-ties simplify the process; pulling a plastic tie snug around a clam segment and a hook is an easy way to create a secure bond that will enhance your bait presentation. Try using electrical ties on bunker chunks, too. Be sure to have a wire cutter to snip the excess tie snug to the baited hook.
Electrical ties are inexpensive; they come in different sizes and in brown, white, and black. Use the tie size and color that best fits your needs. I prefer the brown for clam baits because it blends in best; I like white or black ties for bunker chunks.
Metal Polish & Glitter
Exposure to corrosive saltwater, abrasive sand, rocks, and razor-sharp teeth do serious damage to the sparkle of metal lures. Some of the lackluster look they create can be removed if you use a household metal polish. Restoring the flash to a battered metal lure and getting it back in the action is great feeling. Restoring flash to a battered metal lure saves you money plus gets a proven fish-catcher back into action.
More seriously damaged lures can benefit from stationary glitter – my favorite color is silver – which can be applied to seriously banged-up lures. Simply apply the glitter to the lure using clear fingernail polish as the bonding agent; apply the glitter to the lure after the clear polish has been applied to the body; do one side at a time. The new look is often stunning. The “nuclear option” for lures that are seemingly beyond restoration is to spray paint the dull bodies with silver, black, red, blue, or gold spray paint; be sure to use a primer first for best adhesion.
Colored Fingernail Polish
The finishes of both wooden and plastic plugs take a beating from the same elements that metal lures do. In a pinch, minor imperfections in swimming and popping plugs can be touched up using inexpensive colored fingernail polish. Fingernail polishes come in a rainbow of colors; the fix is fast, sturdy, and looks good in times when you can’t get to the tackle shop for specialty colors.
Major damage to a plug can be undone by taking off all the lure hardware and then spray painting whichever color you think is best. Adding new 3D eyes and new hardware is a great way to further revitalize battered plugs. These fixes are inexpensive, not time consuming, and put proven lures back into action looking like new.
Armor All is a great product with many uses. It was not designed to keep fishing gear supple but it does a great job in doing so nonetheless. Armor All will also make anything that gets a treatment of it newer looking. Try putting some on your fishing bucket, plastic sand spikes, most types of waders, your fishing rod shafts, and even your soft plastics like Storm Shads.
Giving your gear a dressing of this wondrous product is something that should be part of your maintenance routine at the end of the season as you are storing your gear for the winter months. It does make a difference in the longevity of anything that it touches.
Leaders & Lengths
Hang your fluke rigs, shock leaders, and teaser rigs on a wall, with a weight attached to the rig clip providing stretch to the lines. This aids in lure presentation in that lines will have a straight memory when they are used. The teasers especially will present the teaser feature in a more natural way if you arrange the teaser under tension at a 90-degree angle away from the main line.
Also, once the 2017 regulations are set, create minimum-length marks on your rod shafts for fluke or striped bass, really any other regulated species that you normally target. These marks are great quick-reference guides to determine whether a fish is a keeper or a throw-back. They are very pro catch-and-release since any fish caught can be measured and released in very short order. White fingernail polish is my preference since it can be easily seen in low-light situations as well as during the day.
Always think of ways that you can fish most inexpensively and efficiently; take care of and use what fishing equipment you have to best advantage. Be open to new maintenance ideas and suggestions; and remember now’s the time to hit the local tackle shop to stock up on inexpensive fishing aids you’re sure to need later in the season like bait knives, pliers, clippers for cutting line.
Protect your valuable gear now to help save money in the end, and you may find it even helps you to become a better angler in the long run.