Do tackle maintenance now

Done fishing for the year? Start planning for next year.

This is the season you should be going through all of your tackleboxes, eliminating lures you never throw and touching up those "pet" baits that you know the fish can't resist.

Tackle maintenance is especially important for crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters. If you're like me, those boxes are left in disarray at the end of the season because you were too busy fishing to tend to them last fall.

Baits get put in the wrong place, hooks get worn, split rings are weakened and paint finishes get beat up through the rigors of fishing.

That's why I go through each box carefully, examining each of my lures and replacing the treble hooks that are worn and restocking the lure sizes and colors that I know I use frequently.

Lures or colors that I haven't used for years get cast to the "garage sale" box so that I'm not sifting through them during the regular fishing season.

Any hook that shows even the slightest bit of rust or damage should be replaced. Rust not only weakens a hook and dulls the point, but it will affect how easily it penetrates a fish's mouth.

I segregate my lures in Plano 3700 Utility Boxes that I load in my boat storage compartments. The system saves a lot of time and, because they are clear, I can see what's inside.

Plano makes some fabulous waterproof utility boxes, but moisture will still gather from wet lures you put back in the box. That's why I always keep rust inhibitor strips in some of the trays. Plano markets Inhibitor VCI Pro Chips that do a great job of that. In fact, the company offers a line of utility boxes that come with the Pro Chips.

I spend a lot of time organizing my hook boxes, too. I carry at least one 3700 that has nothing but soft plastic hooks in a variety of sizes and styles. I replenish those sizes and styles I use frequently, and any old or used ones are discarded.

Lures need a touchup, also. We all have those confidence baits that get used more than others because they catch more fish and seem to have some magical attraction about them. Because of the extensive use, the paint may need a touchup or a coat of fingernail polish to seal the finish.

I also go through my soft plastic selections making sure the colors and sizes that I use frequently are well-stocked. When the fish are biting a certain color, it doesn't take long to go through a good supply. I make sure those baits are lying straight and not getting kinked to where it might affect their actions.

Maintaining your tackleboxes is as important as spooling up line for the new season. It's a good way to pass time this winter and get you geared up for a promising spring.

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