I’m calling this one "Winter storage," but that’s really not the story. I don’t store my stuff for the winter like a lot of guys do, but I do cut down on the tackle in my boat and use the cold weather to organize and refresh everything for the next year. If you take the winter off — or don’t go fishing much — you can do what I do.
Before we get started on just what it is that I do, I want to remind everyone that we’ve talked about how to do things with your tackle in other Master Series lessons. They cover everything in more detail than I can do here. You should reread them.
The very first thing to do is to get rid of moisture. There’s nothing that’s as hard on equipment as water. I know that sounds crazy. We use our tackle in water. But that’s the way it is, and we have to deal with it. Open everything up and let it dry out.
While I’m doing that, I unpack everything in my boat. That gives me a chance to clean my storage compartments and check things over. I put all my stuff in the garage where I can work on it for a few hours each day. That’s important. You don’t want to get in a hurry and get sloppy.
I check all my rods and reels first. I always clean and put fresh oil in the reels. If you’re uncomfortable with doing that yourself you can take them to a repair shop somewhere. They’ll charge you money, though. I look over my rods, too, and make whatever repairs need to be made. I have rods and reels that are six years old and they still work as good as new because I take care of them.
After that I turn my attention to my lures, especially the ones with hard bodies. I check everything — bodies, props, bills and hooks. If anything’s wrong, I fix it right away. I don’t always mess with the hooks, though. Some of my lures have bad hooks on them on purpose. I use them for practice when I don’t really want to catch the fish, but I change my hooks on my tournament baits.
This is also a great time to customize. You don’t have to just fix bad spots on the body. You can make new colors and finishes, create stuff the fish haven’t seen and that the other guys don’t have. And you can change the bills at the same time. I sometimes make the bills on my crankbaits thinner or more pointed. They wiggle different that way.
I also repaint my jigs, even if they don’t look like they need it. A fresh coat of powder will make a lot of difference sometimes. After you do that you can change the skirts if you want, but that’s up to you. They don’t always need it.
Once all that’s finished, you can repack your boat. You always want to be ready to go fishing. You never know when they might be biting.
Don’t worry too much about leaving everything out in the cold. I do it all the time and have never had a problem. Nothing has ever broken or exploded when I left it outside in the cold, or anything. The only exception is my line. I’m not comfortable with leaving it out in the cold.
Freezing is especially hard on fluorocarbon. I always put it in the garage or someplace in the house that’s cool. And, I keep my line in the dark. I take it out just before I leave to go fishing and put it back as soon as I come in off the water.
The old saying that if you take care of your tackle it’ll take care of you is true. If you get a chance to go fishing this winter you don’t want to waste a lot of time messing around with your tackle.