Not all anglers fish 12 months a year like I do. In fact, most of them hang it up come fall, preferring to pursue their hobby in warmer, friendlier weather. If you are one of these anglers that I have just described, here are a few tips to help you properly store your equipment. Good fishing equipment is designed to last a lifetime, but you do have to take care of it.
The most important part of storing your fishing rods is to store them in a clean, dry place. Do not just throw them into a damp section of the basement. Fishing equipment can rust or mildew just like anything else. If you have extra shelves in your basement they will make an excellent storage spot. Place the rods level and make sure that nothing is ever placed on top of them. If you leave the reel on your rod make sure that the line doesn't have any tension on it. The tension created by line on your rod causes the rod to bend, and that bend will become permanent if it is left in that position over an extended period of time. Once your rods has a permanent bend, there is nothing that you can do except throw it away. The most important thing here is to think about is to use good, common sense when you are putting your rods away for the winter.
It is a great idea to take the line off of all of your reels before storing them. The additional benefit of this is that it will force you to place fresh line on the reels before you use them again. This is the ideal time to clean your reels since they have no line on them. Take an old toothbrush and brush all of the sand and dirt off of the moving parts and crevices. Then run the reel under tap water to clean all of the smaller particles that you can't see. Then take the reel apart making sure you don't lose any of the small screws or springs. I put these parts on a paper towel just to make sure they don't get lost. Take each of the parts and clean it thoroughly with a soft rag. After you are done cleaning the parts squirt a small amount of a product called "reel oil" on it. Reel oil is especially designed to be used on reels to extend their lives by cutting down on friction applied to the moving parts. Remember to use only a small amount because if you use too much, you will create a mess. If you clean each of your reels at least once a year they will work correctly for a long time.
Most anglers have a large assortment of artificial lures. It is a good idea to clean out the box you use to store these lures in as well. Make sure you wipe each compartment clean. If you find rust, wipe that compartment clean and throw any rusty hooks away. If this means throwing the whole lure away, it has to be done because rust can spread to the surrounding lures and eventually it will ruin your entire collection.
Finally, this would be a good time to sharpen your hooks. There are several commercial hook-sharpening tools available and most of them come with easy instructions. It is worth your while to have sharp hooks especially if you fish for predatory fish with bony mouths such as walleyes, bass or muskies. Test each hook individually after you are done sharpening it.
These tips might seem time-consuming to you but if you are serious about catching fish, they are worthwhile. Investing a small amount of time in the fall could mean the difference between putting that fish of a lifetime in your boat or losing it.