Now is the time to winterize your fishing reels

When winterizing your fishing reels be sure to loosen the drag to preserve the washers. photo by Mike Schoonveld

All fishermen have stuff and this is the time of year when articles abound about winterizing your “stuff.” There’s big stuff, such as boats and motors. Do this, change that, grease something else and add more stuff to protect it from the environment.

There’s medium sized stuff, as well. Wrap it, stack it, bring it inside the house – the nature of the stuff dictates what needs to be done with it to bring it through the winter unscathed.

There is tiny stuff as well, such as hooks, swivels, split rings, fuses and a dozen other things that need to be given a tiny bit of care to ensure they are good to go when the spring season is upon us.

Truthfully, I’m meticulous about winterizing some of my stuff, less so about other stuff I own, but one thing I never skimp on is winterizing my reels. Perhaps that’s because it’s easy, but mostly because I’ve had perfectly good reels ruined by just throwing them in the corner of my garage and letting them sit over the winter.

Actually, I sort and winterize the reels. Some, like most of my lead core and copper wire reels, I just back off the drags to zero and store them. Others, even the lead or wire reels may go into the second category if I think they need some extra attention. Some may squeak, have a loose handle, show signs of needing attention on the level wind mechanism or have some other minor problem. These are the ones I’ll be dragging in out of the cold and attending to in more detail on cold, snowy days over the winter. Back off their drag mechanism and sort them separately.

The last group is my monofilament reels. I swap out all my monofilament line annually and winter is the best time to do it. I also force myself to do it by removing the line I’m going to replace when the reels go into hibernation. It’s too easy to let the line refilling go over the winter unless you know the reels are stripped clean and useless. Once the line is removed, back off the drags.

I make a list of how much, what strength and what color of line I will need. Then I put it on my Christmas list. I don’t need any new ties, a funky sweater or other traditional gifts, but I’m in yuletide heaven surrounded by spools and spools of mono and fluorocarbon in various strengths and colors.

Notice one commonality among all three groups is backing off the drags. For Great Lakes applications, smooth drags are mandatory. Few things ruin drag washers more quickly than being stored with the washers tight against each other.

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