Time has been flying by and the fishing itch is starting to kick into high gear! Had the chance to go ice fishing with a local buddy and got into some of my first fish of the season. First bass is on the board, and about 5 bluegills. Also got out one day with Darkstar and caught my first crappie of the season. Looks like I will have to start the scoreboard over for the new year! You will notice in the next month that the blog will be getting a face lift to organize some things better. You will also notice that I will be going through previous blog posts and expanding on certain topics and fine tuning with new details that I have learned over the past year. This blog will start to read more and more like a how to on a few broad topics. This way you aren't trying to piece through 10 different blog posts on crankbaits to try and find what you are looking for. So be prepared to suck in some new tips and tricks of the trade!!!
Moving on to the main reason for this blog post....I want to take some time in the "downtime" of the open water season and teach you guys how to get your gear ready for the fishing battles to come! Fishing gear can be a big investment, and the ultimate goal is to have that investment last for multiple seasons. So here are some basic tips to clean and inspect your gear that will help prevent potential issues when you are finally ready for the water.
All rods are pretty much equal component wise. Some materials are different between manufacturers, but cleaning them should be the same across the board. The main items that I want to have on hand when I go through this process...
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
- Bowl of Warm Water
- Pledge Furniture Polish
- Elmers Wood Filler
- Microfiber Cloth
- Fine Sand Paper
These are pretty generic around the house items, but they work wonders to clean up any rod that you have. The magic eraser is a FANTASTIC product and will bring any cork grip you have back to new in an instant. Just use some warm water and give the cork a good scrub and BOOM looks brand new! This magic eraser can also be used to remove dirt stains on EVA handles as well as hard to remove dirt or grime on the rod blank.
The Pledge furniture polish along with the microfiber cloth will be used primarily for the blank. It does a really great job of breaking down all the residue left over on the blank as well as the rod guides. Just spray some on a section at a time, let it sit for 20 seconds or so and then rub the blank down with the cloth. You are cleaning the rod and polishing the blank at the same time...ends up looking like new! For the hard to reach places you can use some Q-Tips and that should do the trick.
The last thing you want to do is look for any missing cork or holes in your cork grips you can use wood filler to fill the holes. I would recommend doing this after you have cleaned the cork and let it dry. Just use the pressure of the bottle to help squeeze the wood filler into the hole and let it overflow slightly. Let it dry, and then sand down the excess....no more holes! Make sure you also use a wood filler color that matches your cork....it can be noticeable if you use a different color.
Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to do a before and after of one of my dirtier rods, but I am telling you first hand that this brings it back to life!
Final checks of the rod will be to make sure that all of the handle pieces and reel seat are not loose or falling apart. You will also want to check for nicks in the blank as well as scratches or cracks in any of the guides. It is essential to check for this beforehand...the last thing you need is a broken rod out on the water and you weren't prepared for it. If you have any damage I would recommend to shoot Ed Schmitt an email at FourSeasonAngler@gmail.com to see what he would recommend doing to get your rod back in shape.
I will forewarn anybody before continuing on with this section, that they understand that the amount of small parts can get hairy when dealing with a reel for the first time. I would be very cautious when taking one apart and be as meticulous as possible when pulling a reel apart. With that said, lets continue...
If you are wanting to do just a basic external cleaning I would recommend you do a couple things....
1) Remove the reel spool and remove any old line
After this is completed I would recommend having some low viscosity oil and some reel grease. There are many brands of reel oil and grease, so try to find which one works best for you. A good start would be www.biggreenfish.com and click on the oil/grease section on the left side. I use Cal's Drag Grease and Yellow Rocket Fuel for my bearings.
The main things that you will be doing with the grease and the oil will be to grease the worm gear and oil the spool bearings and spool shaft and pinion gear. The worm gear is the gear that moves the line guide back and forth on the front of your reel. This gear can collect a bunch of dirt over one season so it is essential to clean this out. What I would recommend doing is taking a paper towel and wiping away the grease on the gear...then turn the handle a half turn and wipe away the grease again. I would do this until you have most of the grease removed from the gear. If you need to you can also use a degreaser (not water) on a rag to remove the grease as well. After the grease has been removed, push a small dab of new grease onto the gear. Once it is on the gear start turning the handle and the line guide will help push that dab of grease over the entire gear. First task is done!
Now when it comes to the spool bearings this can get slightly hairy. On most spools you will have 2 spool bearings....others might have 3. For the spools that have three bearings the third bearing is usually held onto the spool by a pin. That pin requires a special tool (spool pin pliers) that can be found on www.bocabearing.com. I wouldn't recommend using anything but this tool because an ordinary pair of pliers may damage the pin.
The first of the other two bearings can be found on the inner side of the non-handle side plate. Usually this bearing is held in place by a snap ring style wire. That wire can be removed with a good pair of tweezers. I have almost lost that snap wire a few times so be careful when you take it out, it will shoot out like a rocket if your aren't careful.
The last bearing is usually on the handle side under the spool tension knob. Just unscrew the knob until it pops out. Pull the spring out that was sitting underneath the knob, and make sure you don't loose any metal or felt washers that are under the cap or spring. After that is taken care of, take a Q-Tip and remove the cotton from one end of it. Use that side of the Q-tip and insert it into the inner diameter of the pinion gear (from the spool side as shown below). What this will do is help push the bearing out of the hole that it is sitting in on the handle side.
Once you remove all of the bearings, take a bowl or plastic storage cup and fill the bottom with isopropyl alcohol. Drop the bearings in and make sure they are completely submerged in alcohol. Here comes the next trick....take an electric shaver and place the bowl on top of the shaver while it is turned on. Instant deep cleaning of the bearings! Give them about 10 minutes and remove them from the alcohol.
Next take a sharpened pencil and place the bearing on the sharpened side of the pencil. Place your thumb on the point with the rest of your hand holding the pencil and use your other hand to spin the bearing. By spinning it a few times you will help remove any alcohol that may be left in the bearing. Once that is done, put the bearings back into their appropriate spots on the reel. Then take your bearing oil and squeeze one drop only into the inner race of the bearing as shown below. Let it seep in for a second and then add oil in the same fashion to the remaining bearings. After that make sure that the shaft of the spool and the inner shaft of the pinion gear are wiped down with isopropyl alcohol. Then add one drop onto the shaft of the spool on both ends and then one drop into the center of the pinion gear.
After you oil the non handle side bearing you want to put the snap wire back into place. Watch as I said before, because that wire will go flying on you in a heart beat...so hover your thumb over the top of it as you snap it back into place. As for the spool tension spring and cap, make sure the larger end of the spring goes back in first and snaps back into place over the handle side spool bearing. It should not be able to pull out easily. Once that is complete, turn the spool tension cap back onto the reel. It should go on easily and be aware that it can get crooked during installation, which might damage the plastic threads. So be careful during assembly.
Once that is complete, give the reel one more good wipe down with a rag and you are done! Simple maintenance that will go a long way. If you use your reels as much as me, you might want to do this at least a couple times a season.
Hope this helps and I will add on to this thread once I get a spinning reel apart for you guys. Spinning reels are a little easier to maintain but follow the same principles of greasing and oiling.
Remember **grease gears and oil bearings**