October 6, 2022

Winter Tips to Improve Spring Fishing

As I sit down to write this article, much of the country is gripped by the coldest blast of arctic air to hit the lower 48 in the last thirty years. However, that does not mean fishing is not on my mind! This article is not about some new technique or lure, but rather a reminder of some things we can do now, to ensure success when the ice finally melts. We all spend a lot of our hard-earned money on gear to pursue our passion for fishing. I would like to give a few maintenance suggestions to help ensure that gear works as we expect it to.


Fishing rods do not require much maintenance, but they should be taken care of. Every winter I do a few things to all of my rods. First, I wipe them all down to get a season’s worth of grime off of them. I use a commercial spray, such as Penn Rod and Reel Cleaner. When I wipe it off, use a microfiber towel. When I am done cleaning them, I wipe them again with with a silicon towel (used to clean guns). A very important thing to check is each guide on every rod you own. It only takes one cracked, nicked, grooved, or broken guide to cause heartbreak next time you set the hook on a trophy bass. To check each guide, take a Q-tip or cotton ball and gently swab the inside of each guide. If the cotton sticks or snags on the inside of the guide, it is compromised and needs replaced. While transporting rods come the fishing season, invest in Rod Gloves for each rod. For about $8 you can greatly extend the life of your rods. Also, the Rod Gloves really cut down on the number of tangles during transportation.

Curado 70 Reels

Reels can be much more complicated, but there are some simple things we can all do to take care of our reels – even if we don’t have an engineering degree! I start simple. Clean the outside of the reel to get all the grime off. Clean the line guide and rollers. Next, I take the spool out and clean clean the brass ring where the brakes ride. I use rubbing alcohol for this. Then, use a Q-tip to add a thin layer of reel oil, this makes them cast a mile! Next, look for oil ports, and oil the reel. Some models have them, some do not. Finally, grease the worm gear that drives the line guide. What is important to remember here, is use quality products designed for reels. Do not use products like WD-40. In time, products not designed specifically for reels will cause them to seize.

Terminal Tackle

The winter is perfect time to organize tackle. After a full season, my tackle is less than organized, so I use the winter to reorganize all of my tackle and lures. It is important to go through every box your own and make sure no rust has formed on your lures. If you find rust, it is important to clean it out of the box, and replace the hooks. I go through every crankbait I own and check the hooks. Any hook that is not up to par gets replaced. I am a true believer in Mustad Triple Grip hooks on crankbaits. I use the Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Trebles when I need a heavier wire hook, and the original Mustad KVD Triple Grip Trebles when I need a fine wire hook. My soft plastic baits get re-organized in gallon zip-lock bags, and labeled using a sharpie. When I finish with this, I make a list of all terminal tackle that needs re-ordered. Make sure you have enough line on stock to get you started this spring. I store my line on peg board in my garage, away from direct sunlight. I don’t ever put new line on my reels until about a week before my first fishing trip. Leaving line on your reels too long without use, will cause it to form “memory” before you ever make a cast.

Hopefully, you have gained some information of value from reading these few tips. At the very least, I hope you were able to think back to warmer times and think fishing for a minute or two! Thanks for reading, and tight lines!

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Paul McCue

Dayton, PA Paul has a long history in the fishing and fisheries science fields. He has worked as a Fisheries Biologist Aide for the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

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