After having bought the tackle set you long wanted, you need to learn some basic rod & reel care for your trusted partners to serve you a lifetime without failing when you are on a fish.
I emphasize all information shared in this blog is just my personal opinion & experience which some may beg to differ 🙂 If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them at the end of this post.
Rod Care (during fishing)
- When travelling long distances, use a proper rod tube/carrier to hold & protect all your rods. I’m still using a very old Plano Phantom rod tube no longer in production which still serves me well with tube extension that can be locked at 2 points (needed if checking in rods at airport). This tube has been with me >30yrs & is still working fine. Check out the current Plano telescopic rod case ( Amazon / eBay / Tackle Direct ) if you’re looking for a reliable carrier.
- Some friends are using newer design rod cases from Nature Boys which comes in Regular (extendable) & Short (fixed) in various colors. These new cases can hold more rods (compared to my old design) & come with 2 sets of Styrofoam inside case securing rods to minimize movement during journey.
- It’s important to minimize movement during journey especially of the guides & rod body hitting against each other or the carrier. Prolonged hitting may form minute cracks in the SiC rings & graphite rod which are hard but fragile.
Hint: As my old tube doesn’t come with foam, I used to add pieces of cloth to dampen any vibration which is not a good solution as you may miss some rods. Nowadays I pack my rods into the tube together with their original cloth bags. Firstly, the cloth bag will reduce movement around each & every rod. Secondly it makes packing easier without the guides blocking each other as they are all in the bag. I can safely squeeze in a max of 7 rods w/cloth bags in my old trusty Plano tube.
- Other danger areas to look out for during your fishing trips are car doors & ceiling fans which are deadly rod killers.
- When fighting a fish near boat, never ever high-stick a rod by bringing it towards your body (in an almost vertical position) & thrusting it upwards at the same time in a desperate bid to bring in your catch. Rods are not designed to be used this way which will usually result in broken tips or pieces. To bring in your catch near the boat, the correct way is to reel in more line faster at the same time lowering your rod to control the end fight. Be prepared to move forward quickly before thrusting your rod into the water if fish tries to make a last minute dash under the boat. This is to avoid rod & line hitting or rubbing against boat edge.
In this example, rod butt is almost at vertical position close to body. You may get away with this as fish is still a distance away. If you continue to maintain a high-stick stance when fish is at boat side, chances are you won’t get away with it.
Hint: Another good practice is to back off your drag when fish nears the boat. More often than not, a fish will be intimidated by the boat, anglers & commotion onboard when it is near & may make a mad dash for its life. If angler is not prepared, rod will be pulled hard downwards at set drag probably resulting in broken line or rod when they hit the boat edge. Backing off drag at this crucial end stage will let fish dash away smoothly absorbing any shock to line & tackle.
As can be imagined, it takes strong limbs in the angler to subdue his trophy fish at boat side. It’s advisable to practice in advance how to lock your elbows, bend your knees & lean back using your body weight to leverage against the pull from the fish. And you need to strengthen muscles in those limbs too.
- Always let your rod have a natural bend whether fighting from shore or on boat. You need to bear this in mind all the time & especially when landing the fish near you to avoid any line or tackle failure. If you noticed an unnatural bend, lower your rod immediately towards the fish to back off any stress on the blank.
Hint: Some manufacturers will provide some angles you should never lift your rod to under load but honestly during the excitement of the fight how will one be able to remember. It has to come with experience. Personally I think as long as you DO NOT bring rod close to body during fight & thrusting it upwards at the same time…you should be fine!
But if you definitely need an ANGLE…use 45 degree as a guide on the max angle you should lift your rod to under load.
Good body stance…with locked elbow, bent knees & body leaning backwards to counter force from running fish. Good angle on the rod too.
- Never lift a decent-sized fish out of water onto the boat using just your rod. Always land your catch using a net or lift up the fish using the leader if no net is available.
- Another common mistake seen in rod handling by many anglers (or deckhands) is lifting up rod under load (either with fish still fighting or trying to lift landed fish) with hand holding rod in the upper 1/3 section of your rod. This can result in breakage especially if it’s a sizeable fish. A rod is designed to be held by the angler at or near the foregrip & NOT anywhere else. Do take note when someone is trying to help by holding your rod in the upper 1/3 section & pulling it backwards during a fight.
- Avoid hitting your rod body hard against another object or rod as graphite composites are hard but brittle. Such collision may result in immediate breakage or worse still micro cracks which lead to breakage later when you are on a fish.
Case study: I’ve seen with my own eyes a boat captain hitting his gaff against a rod breaking it immediately when he missed the fish. To avoid this, give some working space to the gaffer by bringing up your rod tip & providing some leader length to the gaffer to hold if needed. If he misses the fish, the gaff may only hit the leader & not your rod.
- As mentioned earlier in Rod Basics, take note do not hit your barrel swivel against rod tip when keeping your line or fighting the fish. Do take extreme care when your rod tip is nearing end of leader where the swivel & lure are.
Case study: I’ve unknowingly cracked my SiC tip when retrieving my swivel too fast thru the guides. This led to many cut braided lines until my discovery later.
Rod Care (after fishing)
- Rinse your rod especially the guides with freshwater after each fishing session eg. on a multiple days charter. After final session, wash it thoroughly preferably with warm & soapy water before drying & storing.
Hint: A good idea is to wash rods during your bath in warm & soapy water killing 2 birds with 1 stone. At the same time, check for corrosion & cracks in guides & rod body.
- After washing, wipe it dry to remove any stains & wait for a day before it dries thoroughly before keeping.
- For short storage, keep rod in vertical or horizontal position WITHOUT load ie. in a straight natural position without any rig or lure attached. I keep my rod with reel attached in a vertical position with line bound with a Daiwa Spool Belt ( Amazon / eBay ).
- For long storage, keep rod in its original cloth bag or rod case to prevent any damage or knocks similarly in vertical or horizontal position without load. I keep these in their cloth bags in my rod closet in vertical position without reel.
Reel Care (during fishing)
- Prevent sea spray onto your reels when boat is moving by keeping your outfits in the rod holders above & NOT in the rod holders on the deck. Saltwater spray at force can get into any nook & cranny of your reel which is corrosive & hard to get rid of.
My Saltiga 4500 was heavily sprayed during last Christmas Island trip when I forgot to keep it in upper deck holders before moving off
- If water does get into the drag system, it will cause jerky & uneven drag performance. Dis-assemble drag system, dry up all parts, remove old grease before re-applying with new drag grease.
Hint: I will always bring along a small toolkit in oversea trips with tweezers, cloth & drag grease in case water gets into drag system of any of my reel.
- At end of each day or night fishing session on a multiple days charter, rinse your reels with freshwater (but do not dunk or force spray with water) before hanging to dry for the next day session.
- Back off drag knob a fixed number of half turns so that you can quickly turn back to the right setting before your next day session.
Reel Care (after fishing)
- Remove all lines from reels by winding them into big plastic hand spools ( Amazon / eBay ). Tag hand spools so that you know which line goes into which reel.
- Soak lines in plastic hand spools in warm water for at least a day before hanging to dry thoroughly before storing.
- Wash reels with sponge in light soapy water but do not dunk or force spray with water. Wipe dry then leave to dry thoroughly before storing.
- For short storage, my reel (with line) is kept mounted on rod in vertical position without any lure or line rigged…ready for the next session.
- For long storage, CorrosionX / ReelX ( Amazon / eBay ) is applied onto screws, hinges & surfaces when keeping reels for long period. To avoid staining reel pouch with oil, reel is stored in plastic bag before storing in pouch. Reels & lines are kept separately in this case.
- Remember to back off all drag before storing reels. If drag washers are kept under pressure especially for long period, they will seize up, stay compressed (even after drag knob is loosened) & lose their properties. Only way out then is to replace all washers.
Hint: I wash & keep reels & lines separately only after fishing in saltwater for those few oversea trips I do in a year. For freshwater, I clean tackle without stripping the line. For those I use regularly in local saltwater, will strip all line onto floor before running line thru fingers under shower back onto reel. This is to prevent corrosion in reel spool. Wipe rod & reel before leaving them to dry ready for the next session.
All the best,
PS: Please leave a comment if any information in this site is inaccurate or incorrect…I’m learning too 🙂
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