Equipment Check For Trout Season
Inside the Outdoors, March 15
, 2012

It is hard to believe, but we’re already in the middle of March and that means opening day trout is not really that far away.

The important consideration is to get out the rods and reels and make sure they are in perfect working conditions before the big day arrives.

Starting with the reels, I have found from past experiences that dirt and sand have found their way into the mechanisms causing malfunctions in the equipment. Also, the gears periodically need to be oiled. Chances are, these prize possessions have been sitting in the garage somewhere, allowing the grease to gunk up. When that happens, smooth operations go by the wayside, and though it would probably work, the performance of reels just don’t act like the same as when you purchased them at your favorite sport’s shop.

And need I tell you about changing line. I may have related this story before, but it bears telling it again, for it points to the reason line changing is necessary.

I was fishing with a friend along a pond in Derry Township when he turned to me and asked, “Say, Pee Vee, can I borrow your favorite lure.” Being the good buddy I was, I nodded my head to the affirmative. The lure – a yellow spinnerbait with a Colorado blade.

He had no problem tying it on his line. No sooner did he throw it out near a stump than he got a hit – a big one! Seconds later, I heard the sound no angler enjoys – the snap of the line attached to the bait. I cringed, and then looked at him. He knew what was going through my mind. Words couldn’t have relayed the message. My lure was gone.

The next day, we returned to that lake. I thought, just for the heck of it, I would fasten something to my line and throw it in the proximity of that same stump. Boom! I got a hit. I reeled in the fish and there it was, my favorite fishing lure embedded in the mouth of a largemouth bass – the lure that my “friend” had lost the day before. I guess there are redeeming qualities in everything.

Anyway, line should be changed as often as once to three times a year – actually depending on how often one fishes and in what types of water. For example, if the quality has a low ph, that means there is a lot of acid in the fluid which will affect the line strength. Line used in purer water with a high ph may not need to be changed as often. Of course, this is the writer'’ theory as proven by yours truly. After so many years of experience, it speaks for itself.

One may want to try a new line to see if it works better. I’m going to do just that, going to Gamma’s 4 pound. Test. I never used it before, but was told at the trade show that its breaking point is 8.5 pounds. I shall see and report, as the saying goes. There are other new lines on the market made by Seaguar, Berkley and Hi Seas. One of these may be what you are looking for, who knows?

As to rods, make sure the eyelet in the top ring is smooth and not jagged. Some of the cheaper rods will have steel eyelets that can rust when exposed to water. When line, particularly old line, is pulled over the edges, it will have a tendency to break – not a pleasant experience, to say the least.

Also, check the thread on the eyelets along the rod. Is it coming loose? Should it be reinforced? These are just a couple of questions that may come to mind.

Make sure the screws on the rod seats turn and are not wedged into the holes or bent in any way. One must be able to slide reels into position and turn the screws so they tightly close the clamp against the reel.

Consider putting your rod and reel in some kind of casing. There are several advantages. First, you will not have to take the lure off your line. Second, you will protect it from the elements, and third, storage will be easier when not in use. Get yourself some velcro protectors from Bass Pro that will cover the lures and hooks. That way, you will be assured that the jagged edges will not stick into the outer clothe.

For a period of time, I kept my combos in a gun case that I specially designed for transporting my gear. It worked superbly. I was always singled out by a ranger at Keystone State Park, but there was no problem after he learned I was not carrying a gun.

One more thing. Make sure all hooks are sharp. A sharpening stone is relatively inexpensive and will make all fishing trips more pleasurable. And please, crimp your barbs. It will make hook “removeability” much, much easier even if you intend to keep the fish. As long as you keep the tension on the line, you will haul in your fish.

Now, go to it!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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