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Getting Tackle Ready

Dateline 2-16-98

Looking for something to do on these rainy, cold days that are too miserable to get outside? There are several things you can do to be ready when better fishing weather finally gets here. (The weather got too bad for me to go fishing once. The roads were so icy, I couldn't get my boat out of the garage and could not drive to the lake! I tried to walk to a local creek but kept sliding down on the ice!)

Get out all your rods and reels and clean them. (See the article on Rod and Reel Repair) Check rod guides for any rough places that could cut your line and replace them. Look for bad places in your rod and either fix it or replace the rod before it breaks - when you are fighting the biggest fish of your life.

Take apart your reels. Clean out the built-up gunk and replace it with a light coating of reel lube. Look for worn gears and parts that should be replaced or repaired. Tighten up all screws as you put it back together.

Probably the most important thing you can do is strip off the old line and replace it. Line gets weaker with age and exposure to the sun and weather. Some people replace their line every time they go fishing. I try to replace line at least monthly.

Remember, the line is the only thing connecting you to the fish. I have been able to land several bass after my reel froze up by pulling the line in hand over hand. I have landed bass on the stub after breaking a rod. I have landed very few bass after breaking the line!

One way to make sure you replace your line often is to put backing on your reels and have only about 50 yards of useable line. After several trips where you cut your line and retie a few times, you will cast to knot and have to put on more line. You use much less then 50 yards of line most of the time.

I have two or three reels that have over 100 yards of useable line. They are the ones used for trolling or making long casts with big plugs or one ounce sinkers on Carolina Rigs. The rest of the time, I have no problems with shorter lines.

When I first started paying attention to the line I used, sometimes in the early 70's, I settled on Stren as my line. I have used it since then and have never lost a single fish because the line failed. I have lost many fish because I didn't retie frayed line or because the fish wrapped me up, but the line itself has never failed.

Since fishing pressure has gotten so much tougher, I think I have missed many strikes because the line I use is too visible and the fish don't hit my bait. A few years ago, I started loading some of my rods with Silver Thread line. It is clear and has a small diameter so I get more strikes.

I do break off more fish because the least little nick will cause a thin line to break, but it is better to get 10 strikes and lose three fish than to only get five strikes and land them all. Thin, clear line is especially important in clear water.

I still have a couple of casting reels spooled with 17# Stren for dragging DB-III's and spinnerbaits through treetops and rocks. I also use it for bouncing worms and jigs in heavy cover. I keep 10# Stren on a spinning rod for casting smaller lures in cover. When using Carolina Rigs, I will use heavy main line and a lighter leader.

For clear water and small baits, I have a rod or two with 6# and 8# Silver Thread. I also have 12# Silver Thread for crankbaits and 16 pound Silver Thread line on a worm rod I use for Texas rigged worms in clear water and another with the same size line I use for casting a Carolina rigged 4 inch worm in clear water. I use the 16 pound line for both the main line and leader.

Go to a local sporting goods store and get them to show you a variety of lines. Try several of the quality lines. Find one that works for you, tie it right every time, and it will not fail.

What is your favorite line? Tell me about it. Do you have some fishing stories related to the line you use? If so, you can also post information about it for others on my message board - you must register to post. Also, if you have a story about trolling for any species of fish, let me know about it at fishing@aboutguide.com. for a "Fishtale". Tell others what you like.

Check out Coming Next Week - Next week's column topic, contest prize and new additions to the resources lists.

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