Winter Gear Checks

Since many of us can't fish yet, we take advantage of this time of year to do a gear and equipment check-up so that were sure to be ready for that first trip of the year. It's all too easy to put off these very necessary task until the day before that first trip. Then we scramble to get organized and get everything ready in time. So, here's a few tips to help you get started on your late winter flyfishing check-up.

  1. Organize your efforts around a) rods/reels/lines & other tackle, b)waders/boots/raincoat, and c) flies/split shot/strike indicators/etc, perhaps doing a check list to make sure you get to everything.
  2. Go out to the garage, basement, store room, etc. and dig out the items you're working on. If you have a heated garage, store room, etc. take a card table with you and spread out your items. If not use the kitchen table or in the family room floor. Regardless what area you use, make sure you have good light so you can see what you're working on.
  3. If your waders were leaking last summer, either box them up to send to the manufacturer for repair, or, if your manufacturer doesn't repair see if you and/or a friend can do it. You can check your waders for leaks by filling them with water and hanging them up in the garage or over your bathtub to see where/if water leaks out, or you can brush the outside with soap suds, insert the hose of your vacuum cleaner or a bicycle pump to fill the waders with air and see where the soap bubbles up from the air leaks. If leaks are in just small areas, you can dry the waders completely and then cover the holes with Aqua Seal or Simms Seal, on both the inside and outside of the leak. If the waders leak along the seams, it's more difficult to fix the leak with Aqua Seal, but you can try. Your local fly shop may also repair (not too likely) or may know someone who can help you repair. And if your waders have lots of leaks or are just old, it's time to think about a new pair. (See previous Women's Flyfishing® Tips on neoprene waders.)


  4. If the felt soles on your boots are work out or need replacement, set them out to take to the fly shop or a shoe repair shop for fixing.
  5. Now is the time to clean up your fly rod, take it in for repair of loose guides, thread wraps, cork handle goughes, etc. Also get some fly line cleaner and clean all your flylines. I like Greased Lightning, but there are several good brands on the market. Clip off all the old leader material and replace it after cleaning. As you run your fingers down the line, check for nicks and breaks in the line. They can weaken the line and even result in breakage. It may be time for new line. If the backing has been on your reel for several years, and you use your reel a lot, you may also need new backing. Also clean your reel of sand, etc. and grease and oil it, or take it to the fly shop and have it done for you.
  6. Take out all your fly boxes and empty them on to newspaper or paper towels. Then take each individual fly and see if it is worth putting back in the box. If the hook is rusted, or the needed repairs are not easily made, just throw it away. As you do this inventory of your boxes, keep a piece of paper and a pencil nearby so you can make a list of the flies that you'll need to replace or re-tie so that you'll be ready for the season with all your favorites. I keep an inventory of the flies I use most during different months or on different rivers so I can be sure that I sit down to tie those specific flies. It's easy to get caught up in tying new stuff and neglecting the old stand-bys that you use over and over.
  7. Check your raincoat for leaks and decide it it's time for a new one of those as well. There are a number of good short rainjackets on the market now for flyfishers. Some are spendy, but you can decide how much you can afford or start saving your money now.
If you begin all these tasks in February or March, you not only have some really productive flyfishing activity to do during the winter, but you'll also be organized and ready for those first hatches or those first smolt when the ice goes out.