by Bob Banfelder
It's that time of year again when I start replacing worn monofilament and braided lines from the spools of Donna's and my spinning and bait casting reels, inspecting and wiping clean our weight-forward fly lines and shooting heads, reversing (if necessary) our double-taper fly lines, which we use strictly for stilly freshwater presentations.
Next, I thoroughly attack those respective reels with a degreaser and mild detergent, inside and out, adding new grease and reel oil. As Donna and I own several rods and reels in each category—spin, bait and fly outfits for light, medium as well as heavy-duty action—needless to say, we're pretty busy this time of year getting ready for next season. I handle the reels and lines; Donna cleans the rods.
First, a word of advice: If you're not familiar with taking your reel(s) apart and putting them back together, bring or send them to an authorized dealer. Don't be a last-minute Charlie or Charlotte, because these guys get pretty busy as we approach March. If you insist on doing the job yourself, have your owner's manual beside you in addition to a pad and pen to jot down a particular sequence if those instructions and/or diagrams aren't up to par. Also, work on a surface where you won't likely lose a tiny screw or a shooting spring.
Following the complete overhaul of that equipment, I launch into refurbishing or replacing lures: poppers, spoons (tins), crankbaits, jigs, spinners, et cetera. In virtually all cases, it's simply a matter of sharpening or replacing hooks. Having on hand an assortment of the appropriate style and sized single hooks, treble hooks, split rings, clips, spinner blades, clevises and other materials will make life easier in the long run. This will also afford you the opportunity to become a bit creative, tying in your knowledge (quite literally perhaps) of fly tying combined with said lure alterations. A favored modification of mine is epoxying a pair of eyes and tying feathers as trailers to Kastmaster tins. They're absolutely deadly when retrieved on either a horizontal or vertical (jigging) plane. Too, converting a freshwater Hula Popper into a saltwater version by removing its deteriorating rubber skirt and restoring it with a silicon replacement skirt and trailers used for Shimano's Lucanus Jigs is positively explosive. These inventive combining possibilities are endless. Alteration, creation and experimentation are the hallmarks of a successful angler. If you have convinced yourself that you're not the creative type, think again. Simply realize that the germ of an idea is the seed carried to the very next level. Say to yourself, "Yes, there is
a method to my madness!"
I have a newfound friend who lives down the block. He tells me that I created a monster by reintroducing him to fishing. I had casually mentioned altering lures, explaining how I modified the Kastmaster and Hula Popper. It wasn't a week or two later when he went into his garage and started turning out wooden plugs, adding all the necessary hardware. He had made a jointed swimmer similar to the black Bomber model #16-J–Magnum Long "A" that I went on about in last month's blog. Tom Gahan then apologized for his lure's crudeness, for it wasn't turned on a lathe but simply whittled with a paring knife then sandpapered, epoxied and painted. However, we both knew that the lure would take fish come springtime. "So then why the apology, Tom?" I had asked the man. Confident now, Tom smiled, disappeared then returned in a moment with a squid that he had also created, complete with ingeniously spawned tentacles so unique that I stood in awe. He has an idea for a book titled The Frugal Fisherman
; therefore, I'm not at liberty to give too much away, except to say that the guy's really on to something.
By the end of January, Donna and I will be ready for the spring: rods, reels, lines, lures and terminal tackle will all be in order. The Preparation
part will be complete. Let's move on to the Organization
As both Donna and I have a lot of fishing gear to contend with, organization is the key. I have a place for everything, and everything is in its place. At a moment's notice, we must be able to grab, not search for, the equipment we need to cover a certain application be it spin, bait or fly-fishing; fresh water or salt water; light, medium or heavy-duty action. It is no time to be searching through the corners of a shed, garage or closet for a specific rod and reel, or looking high and low for last season's go-to lure stowed away in that other
tackle box. As a matter of fact, when we hit the water, we are not carrying a gigantic tackle box or bag filled with every conceivable lure designed for fish-fry size to heavyweights.
Based on what's running, or what we believe to be running, Donna and I simply target a species and set up as much as we can beforehand for a given application. Heading for the basement, I go to a wall designed to display an assortment of artificial lures—our most productive and therefore proven attractors: bucktails, spinners, jigs, poppers, tins, soft plastics, flies and such. I have backups packed neatly away. I'll simply take what we need for the moment and fill in at a later time with what needs to be replaced. On ceiling racks and along walls, specific rods, reels and lines are rigged and at the ready with several of our favorite lures such as properly sized and altered Kastmasters, from 1/12 ounce to 1 ounce plus.
Moving into my office, the workspace is divided in two sections: computers/printers terminal station and a fly-fishing/fly-tying area. Better than a dozen fly rods and reels line the walls and ceiling. As the room is running out of room, other outfits lay atop and between deer antlers. Where else am I going to set these additional outfits so that they remain at the ready? This room is where I write my novels (thrillers), outdoors articles and ruminate upon the next assignment or project. The fly-rod setups have our most productive and proven patterns at the ready. We merely grab and go with our go-to abridged arsenal.
Whatever he situation calls for (spin, bait or fly), Donna and I carry no more than a half-dozen lures for a half day's outing. Those items, along with paraphernalia such as leaders, several hooks, Power Fast Clips and the like, pretty much cover the gamut and compel us to give each tactic and technique a fair try. We're rarely disappointed.
Come spring, be thoroughly prepared
by getting your equipment in fine working order way ahead of time; be organized
by whatever means and method possible. You'll spend more time fishing instead of fussing and being frustrated. If you recall last month's blog, I had that 7-inck black Bomber model #16-J–Magnum Long "A" tucked away and forgotten in my surf bag. That eel-like swimmer is now at the ready. Hey, I didn't say that I was perfect. It's just something that we should all strive for. It makes life easier in the long run. Trust me on that.
Happy New Year, guys and gals!
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
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For BigFish79, here are some redressed tins.