My freshwater fly fishing gear's the first to get put away. This year, since I used boots, footed waders and wading sandals, I have to remember to carefully clean all the soles and check the condition of the felt on them. With the sandals, there's really not much more involved other than hosing them down with clean water, but wader and boot care is more complicated - and important. Actually, proper wader care is important. If you want to toss your waders in a box or a corner until next year, take my advice and wait until the water's warm to use them in the spring. Otherwise, you'll get a chilly surprise when those creases and cracks you caused through poor storage practices leak. And they will.
If you use waders with no boot, consider hanging them upside down. If you use the booted-style, stick some newspaper into the boots (dry boots please) to help prevent moisture and mold from getting started. Then, hang them up by their braces. And hang them somewhere other than by your furnace or in the attic, willya.
Cooler is better and no direct sunlight and cooler is best. If you are planning on storing your waders in a box here's the best advice anyone can offer: roll them up, do not fold them. Folding causes creases. Creases cause leaks. Leaks cause bad language.
The fly rod and reel then follow. I have a jointed rod, so I disassemble it, wipe each section down with fresh water, dry it, then lubricate the cork parts so they stay moist (the cork wax is the only thing from my daughters' band days that still gets used). I also check the line guides to make certain there's no fraying on their binding. Now's the time for touchup if it's needed.
For my reel, it's not a complicated deal -I strip off the line and backing, stretch-straighten it, then run it through a rag to which I have lightly applied some silicon lube. Then it's wrapped - loosely - and stored until next spring. If it's three years old, strip if off and take it to one of the line recycling centers in your area - it's served its purpose and usefulness. My reel is taken apart, the dirt rinsed out with water and the parts blown dry (I use my compressor for this). Then it's a light coat of gun oil, reassembly and into the neoprene cover until next spring.
A little TLC here will pay off. No rust is good.
Where the small things hide. Empty, clean, replace and it's good-to-go in the spring.
Where I generally mess up is maintenance of my flies and lures. It's easy to forget that hooks and metal parts need to be cleaned, and a little bit of lube on the hooks - and a tackle box's metal parts can save you a rusty mess in the spring.
I also completely empty my fly vest. That's when I find all the stuff I thought I'd lost - and replaced - over the summer. Since my primary vest is the flotation type, I also check that part carefully to make certain it's holding a charge, give the fabric vest a good shake, clean stains with either a Shout wipe or gel-pen, then reassemble all my cleaned gear back into the vest and hang it on a wooden hangar with my waders.
Several of the anglers I now like to wait to clean their gear until the weather's nasty. Personally, I like knowing my gear's clean before the weather turns really nasty. It keeps the word "nasty" from describing my gear come spring. If I put it out of sight unclean, I'll find it unclean when I go looking for it in the spring.
While an ounce of prevention definitely is worth a pound of cure, careful storage beats a wet bottom and soggy feet in the spring - or losing a big fish because of poorly maintained gear.