The Bassmaster Classic is a few weeks off, but I've begun tuning up my tackle to get it in tiptop shape.
I have a great sponsor with Quantum, and they keep me well supplied with new gear, but I still like using tried-and-true tackle in big tournaments. New gear gets "broken in" during practice or fun fishing events before it gets eased into my tournament rotation.
I'm not the most detailed guy when it comes to tackle maintenance, but there are a few simple things I recommend everyone should do.
For example, I always clean the worm gears on my baitcast reels and add a drop of oil here and there on critical spots.
The worm gear needs the most attention because it's exposed to foreign debris and takes a lot of abuse during a fishing season.
The worm gear gets exposed to sand and other dust particles while lying on the boat deck. More importantly, fishing line collects algae and other particles that get deposited on the worm gear as you retrieve lures. That crud will clog the gear and cause it to wind roughly.
I remove all old grease and grime from it with the use of a gun "scrubber spray" I also use on my hunting equipment. It's a pressurized cleanser spray with a degreaser that blows out old grease on which grime can collect and plug up the gear. I've also used carb cleaner, which pretty much does the same thing.
Once I've cleaned the gear thoroughly, I add a few drops of Quantum's Hot Sauce, a special lubricant designed for fishing reels.
I also pop off the side plates and place a drop of Sauce on each of the bearings. (Do not use the gun scrubber or carb cleaner on the inside of the reels.) I clean around the thumb bar with a rag, removing gunk that may inhibit its action.
On spinning reels, simply add a drop of oil on the bearings and one on the spool shaft. Regardless of whether you're oiling a baitcast or spinning reel, remember not to overdo it. A drop here and there is plenty.
Rods need little maintenance, although I run a Q-Tip or cotton ball through each guide to make sure it pulls through smoothly. If cotton catches on the inside of a guide, it indicates there's a crack and the guide needs to be replaced. A bad guide will damage your line and cost you a fish next spring.
Pay special attention to the top guide, as it is easily damaged from winding a lure to the end or from pushing the rod tip against underwater debris to free a lure from a snag.
Clean the reel seats of all grime or debris, then lock down their respective reels in place so they're ready to go fishing next spring.
Do all of those simple things and your reels will perform like new ones the next time you hit the water.