Fishing tips and techniques from the pros on tackle maintenance, and using or creating your own baits.

BoatUS ANGLER: Fishing How-To's

Bait & Tackle

Tips and techniques on bait and tackle from the pros

Maintaining Your Tackle: Fun or Frustration?

by Capt. Butch Rickey, Barhopp'R Charters and BoatUS Ask The Experts contributor

Capt. Butch Rickey Bar Hoppr fishing charters

I can still remember my first spinning reels. They were an old Quick and a French-made Centura. They were given to me by an old couple who were friends of my parents when we lived on Captiva Island . The reels were in bad need of repair. I, about age 11, set out to make them work again. Thus was born my love affair with tackle in general, and tinkering with it in particular. As it turned out, it was mostly a matter of removing sand and dirt, tightening loose parts, and lubricating moving parts. That still holds true today.

Maintaining your own tackle today can be lots of fun. But today's tackle is far advanced from the tackle of the 40's and 50's that I cut my teeth on. Spinning reels have line layering and wrapping systems on long-cast spools, velvet smooth and sophisticated drag systems, free-line systems (Bait-Runners), infinite anti-reverse systems, quick-fire bail systems, trigger bait/line release systems, inner-rotor bails, and on and on. The baitcasters of today are just as advanced with features like magnetic spool controls, variable braking systems, flipping switches, infinite anti-reverse systems, line layers level-wind systems, and bearings and shims everywhere.

Baitcasters are much more susceptible to loss of performance (casting distance) from improper lubrication and maintenance, or marginal parts because the spool actually revolves to feed line during the cast. When properly functioning they offer superior drag systems, smoother operation, and superior casting distance with all but the smallest baits. The laws of physics are responsible for longer casts, that is, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. They also offer superior casting control, in my opinion.

Spinning reels, although refined to new heights recently by Shimano's Dyna-Balance System and twist reducing line roller, still have one bugaboo that's a function of design -- they still twist line, and they always will. Casting distance is superior with small baits like whitebaits or small artificials because there's no spool inertia that has to be overcome as with the baitcaster. That advantage soon disappears with increasing bait weights.

Another obvious advantage of the spinner is casting into the wind. Even the best of us will backlash a baitcaster into the wind occasionally. Of course, I've seen lots of my clients have real problems casting down a serious breeze. The line keeps peeling off the spool after the bait has hit the water. The resulting first few wraps are stacked very loosely, and the whole mess likes to jump off the spool in one twisted lump on the next cast.

Fishing reel exploded view

With the sophistication of today's tackle has come an increase in the number of parts it takes to build a reel, and a decrease in their size. Typically, there are a host of small mechanical parts, bearings, springs, shims, shafts, etc, in a reel that can be difficult to handle just because of their size. On first examination by the inexperienced, the function of many of these parts is not immediately apparent either. In fact, some of these systems are quite complicated, and best left to the experts. Of course, even the experts sometimes have trouble remembering the placement of parts, because they don't work on the same reels every day.

Having said all this, repairing and maintaining you own tackle can be fun and give you a great sense of accomplishment, as well as save you money. For a fishing guide like myself, this is doubly true. Someone is always dropping tackle into the water, banging it against the boat, or sitting or stepping on something. Things get broken! Read More

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