We have been going on a family fishing trip in New Mexico at the start of every summer for over ten years. We usually go around the middle of June, and we always have great success because the outdoors is starting to wake up. The bugs are starting to emerge and fly around. The fish are active all over the lakes and streams chasing these bugs. The weather is just about perfect, not too hot and not too cold.
In preparation for the new fishing year, I like to pick a weekend and get all of my fishing gear out and ready for the trip. This is also an excellent time to start thinking about what you need to replace in your tackle boxes. I am a very aggressive fisherman, mostly fly-fishing, so I like to try new things and get my fly to places that might be a little tough. With that being said, I usually end up losing quite a few flies to trees and brush. This is also a good time to survey your flies and lures and replace those that have taken a beating over the years. Maybe it’s time to replace your favorite fly or lure.
First, I pull all of my flies and lures out of their boxes one by one and look them over. I don’t want to lose that once-in-a-lifetime fish, so if the fly or lure has any issues that I think will cause me to lose the fish or result in the fish not wanting to bite, they go in the trash. By doing this, I feel as though I am increasing my odds of catching a fish each time I go.
I don’t get to go as much as I want to, so when I do go, I want to maximize my opportunity. I take inventory and buy new flies and lures as needed and make sure that I pinch all of my barbs. Not only is it easier to take barbless hooks out of fish, they’re also easier to take out of people.
Next, I move on to my fishing line, tippet and reels. I generally replace my fishing line on my spinning reels every other year when using braid, more frequently with monofilament or fluorocarbon. Some of the newer braided fishing lines will last a long time, but the sun in New Mexico can be a little harsh on things. I want to make sure my line is in good shape every time I go out.
When it comes to fly tackle, I replace the butt section of my leader each spring, and the lightest sections every trip. A leader takes a beating, and especially in the finer tippets regular changeouts will keep you from losing fish and flies. Clean the fly line with a cleaner designed for the job, too–this allows for much smoother casting.
Reel maintenance is essential as well. Every year, I use a compressor to blow the dust out of my reels. If I feel some grittiness when reeling, I take the reel apart, clean it and put new grease or oil on the gears and moving parts. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on the lubricants to use–grease where there should be oil can negatively affect performance.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking your reel apart and cleaning it yourself, you can take it to an outdoor store. Allow plenty of time for them to get the job done–otherwise, the summer may go by and your reel is still in the shop.
Finally, I like to pull all of my fishing rods out, wipe them down, give them a flex test and look them over to make sure there aren’t any broken eyes or loose parts that can cause a failure while fishing.
The tip of the rod is usually the most vulnerable and susceptible to breaking. More than once, I’ve set my rod in the bed of the truck and then sat something on it, accidentally creating a crease or nick in the rod that eventually broke when I hooked a fish; this is why a visual inspection is essential.
Make sure the insets in the guides are slick–use of braid can sometimes wear on these, and some types can crack. Either way, the damage can break your line under pressure.
By taking a little time in the fall or early spring to ensure that your fishing equipment is in good working condition, the more time you can spend fishing. By doing this, you not only become more familiar with your equipment, but it will also give you piece of mind knowing you have the proper fishing gear and that it’s in good working condition.
By Ross Morgan, New Mexico Wildlife