As fall starts to pick up, all of us steelheaders are thinking about those fresh chrome steelies running up into the tributaries, signaling the beginning of those explosive hookups and long runs that fall steelhead provide. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to think about how you’re going to approach the season so you don’t miss a day on the water.
Depending on your preferred fishing technique, you will need to check your gear to make sure you have what you need and also to make sure the gear you have is still serviceable.
If your go-to tackle consists of a spinning rod and reel, there are some things you will need to check before hitting the water. First, make sure your rod and reel are set up accordingly. Clean and lube your reel in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure it is operating with no issues.
The next thing to check on your spinning outfit is your line. If using monofilament, it’s recommended that you change out the line at least once a season as mono tends to lose some of its strength and durability over time. If you have fluorocarbon line on your spinning reel, take your setup to the creek or even in your backyard and let out some line (as much as you normally put in the water) to check for excessive stretch spots, nicks and obvious spots of abrasion. It is a good practice to cut off and dispose of about 20-30 yards of line after every few days of fishing so you won’t have to worry about breaking off all the time when you have a fish on.
If fly fishing is your vice, you will need to make sure to clean any accumulated dirt and grime out of the reel, particularly around your drag mechanism. It’s also a good idea to clean your fly lines with a good line cleaner before spooling them. Make sure you have the leaders and tippet material for the situations you plan to be fishing as well.