While some of us are brave enough to battle the rain, wind and cold for some solid winter fishing, most of us prefer the warmer months when it comes to getting out on the water.

In both New Zealand and Australia, recreational fishing hits an all year high during summer, with key species like Snapper and Kingfish gathering in big numbers in the warmer waters off our coasts.

If your tackle bag has been gathering dust since last season, here are some tips and tricks to make sure your gear is in tip top shape.

Rods and reels

Check over your rods and reels, particularly those you use often. Make sure the guides are clean and aligned – any nicks, cracks or saltwater build up on the guides can cause damage to your line which could ultimately lead to it breaking. And according to Murphy’s law, it will happen when you’re hooked up to a big one.

Make sure your reels are free of corrosion, the drag runs smoothly, and everything is in good working order. Many tackle stores service reels, so have a chat to your local to see if they can help. Regular servicing can increase the life of your reels.

If you are a “do it yourselfer”, check out this article at NZ Fishing News for the tools/where and how to apply your skills.

Line / Braid

A season of solid fishing will inevitably cause wear and tear to your line (both mono and braid). Whether it’s chopping a few meters off when it gets snagged, general nicks and abrasions from fish and structure, or if your line has been tightly spooled for a long period of time, starting the season with fresh line is always recommended.

Small nicks or scuffs on the line may not be visible, but you can usually feel it if you run your fingers along the line. These small areas of damage can lead to your line breaking when a fish runs with your bait or lure, or if it snags on rocks or underwater structure.

With braid, your spool capacity may be low due to previous snags or break offs, and coloured braid will fade over time. Braid isn’t as abrasion resistant as mono, so it’s more likely to have this type of damage.

Quick tip – when you’re tying knots in your mainline, make sure you are wetting the knot before you pull it tight. The heat generated when tightening knots can cause damage to fluorocarbon and mono in particular, but wetting the knot reduces the chance of this.

Quick tip – If you’re disposing of line or leader product, ensure you pop it in your recycling bin so it doesn’t end up in landfill.

Terminal Tackle

While it always pays to check and top up your tackle box after each trip, it’s a good idea to do a full review and inventory check at the start of the season.

Check all your hooks – is there any rust or corrosion? Are the points or barbs still sharp, or have they dulled from use?

Some anglers prefer to keep hooks in their packets. There are 2 reasons why this is a good idea. First of all, it helps you know what hooks you have, and means you can quickly grab the right hook when you need it. Secondly, if you’re grabbing hooks out of your tackle box with wet hands, the water can drop into the tray and stay on your hooks, creating condensation inside the tackle box. This will damage most hooks.

If you do keep hooks in a tackle box, make sure they are clearly labelled and ensure they are thoroughly dried out after each fishing trip to keep them in tip top condition for the rest of the season.

Those who chase game fish, will need to check their game hooks (including those attached to lures) to ensure they are razor sharp for their next battle. Be sure to check any connections are not worn from hours/days of trolling.

Go through any rigs or lures that you use. Make sure any leader still attached is in good condition and not a tangled birds nest in the bottom of your tackle box. On some rigs and lures you can replace the hooks and leader.

Quick tip – To help manage your rigs throughout the season, and to keep them in top shape, you can buy our sabiki foams to wrap your rigs around, ready for your next trip.

If you keep your leader in a holder like our Leader Feeder, check the capacity of your spools to make sure you have what you need. A few spare spools in your tackle bag is never a bad idea.

Tools and accessories

Your tools and accessories are just as important as your fishing gear.

Scales – check for rust and if they are digital, replace the battery

Pliers – clean and lubricate your pliers, and check the mechanics are still working well. A bit of CRC or WD40 (or similar) can lubricate the mechanics if they have stiffened over time

Knives – sharpen your bait and filleting knives

Head lamps and UV torches – replace the batteries

Check those little extras that you always use but never think about – fishing towels, bait cotton, brag mats. Make sure you have what you need.

Thoroughly inspect your nets. Check there are no holes in the netting, but also go over the handles and any moving parts (i.e. extendable handles). Check the locking pins (which are usually spring loaded) are working and everything is in good condition.

If you have a gaff on the boat, get the hook sharpened so it will land that big fish next time you’re out on the water.

Harness and Gimbal sets

Those of you who have a gimbal and harness set on your boat, give it a good once over. Make sure you have all the parts e.g. drop straps; and check over all the moving parts to make sure everything is in good working order. Parts like harness clips can suffer from wear and tear so make sure they are moving well. These can easily be replaced if needed, but a quick clean up with Inox or CRC spray will help.

Safety and boating equipment

While you’re checking all your fishing gear, it’s also a great time to check over all your general equipment.

Inspect your life jackets and safety equipment including radios, flares, locator beacons etc – make sure they’re all in good working order, have new batteries (if required), and that your life jackets are fit for purpose. Repair or replace any damaged or expired items.

If you’ve got a boat, do you need to carry out any maintenance or servicing? Inspect your boat, trailer, tyres and anchor.

Restock your essentials like sunscreen and insect repellent, and make sure you know where your favourite fishing hat is.

An inventory check either at start of season or before every trip is important. This goes for your boat too. Get in the habit of being over prepared for anything at sea. Don’t be caught out by mother nature or a tough fish. Make sure your boat and all you gear is up to speed and have an enjoyable day out.

Happy fishing!