1. CLEAN THE GUIDES
A crucial job that most people overlook is cleaning fishing guides. Gradually after numerous trips, guides can be damaged by use and abuse. Over time rust, gunk and other stuff can collect and form on the guides. This can lead to an increased risk of line fray, wind knots as line gets caught on the gunk and permanent damage to your rod guide.
Here is the fix:
Every few months I will get a Q-tip, Saltaway or similar product and warm soapy water. I’ll soak the Q-tip real well in Saltaway then rub all around the guides both the inside and out. I’ll then wet a rag with warm soapy water to wipe the remainder of the gunk off. I’ve seen people use old toothbrushes instead of a Q-tip and it does a very good job of cleaning the gunk off.
2. CLEAN THE HANDLES AND REEL MOUNTING HARDWARE
Whenever fishing with bait I tend to get my rod handles very dirty with guts and scales. Even when holding a fish and getting your hand covered in slime I then tend to pick up my rod and keep fishing. Over time there can be a build-up of stuff over the EVA or cork grips.
This will help make your rod last longer and make it easier to hold. I use old cloth and rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol or ethanol-based liquids). Soak the towel with the rubbing alcohol and then rub real hard. Everything will come clean and look like new. And you’ll be able to handle the rod without it sticking to your hand, which could cause you to lose a fish.
It’s really important to clean them when they’re new, too. There’s a lot of dirt on a new rod handle. You want to get all that off if you can. (Cork dust is nasty.) Besides, the alcohol will disinfect the handle in case there are any germs on it.
3. STORE THEM PROPERLY
Store the rods you aren’t using in Rod Armour Covers. This protects them and keeps them from getting all tangled up. They don’t cost that much, so buy the ones that fit your rods.
If possible, I always store my rods vertical. That keeps the blanks straight. If I have to lay them down, I never do it with a bend in the blank. Over time the rod will “take” that bend, and it’ll be ruined.
Never store a rod in a hot place like your car or truck. Heat can weaken them. And, never lay your rod over something hard like the boat gunnel or something in your truck and then let it bounce up and down on the same spot. That’ll weaken the blank and could cause it to break when it’s under pressure — like when you’re fighting a fish of a lifetime.
4. RODS DON’T LAST FOREVER
All rods weaken over time. After several years they go soft and won’t hold up like when they were new. This is not a complaint about any particular make or manufacturer. It’s just the way it is in the real world. You can test this by taking an old rod and comparing it to an identical new rod. You’ll see and feel the difference immediately.