With hunting seasons nearly over and the spring fishing a few weeks away outdoorsmen frequently find themselves sitting around the house dreaming about the first shad of the season and that big gobbler strutting around the woods trying to attract a mate before nesting. A good way to utilize this “down” time to your advantage is to drag out the gear and do a little preventative maintaince on it.
I opened one of my tackle boxes the other day and inspected the lures that had spent the last few weeks just sitting there and rusting. Apparently I’d used the gear in brackish water and the salt residue on the exposed metal was causing the hooks and other parts of the lures to rust and corrode. If these lures were to be used this spring and summer it was time to think about replacing many of the hooks and cleaning off the lures.
Many of us are shocked as we examine the price of fishing gear that’s appearing in the sporting goods dealer’s stores these days. It used to be that commonly used lures cost just a few bucks and when the paint was worn or the hooks became rusted we just scrapped the entire lure and replaced it with a new one. The high prices we find on many of the new breed of fishing lures makes it look like it’s time to think about simply repairing and maintaining the old lures instead of trashing them.
Over the years I’ve learned to keep a special fishing tackle maintaince box loaded with an assortment of hooks, split rings, metal polishing gear and the chemicals and tools needed to remove rusted hooks and split rings.
Taking one tackle box at the time I begin to remove the lures and other terminal gear out and washing them off in hot soapy water. If the lure or attached metal items need a little extra cleaning I use a stiff nylon brush and some cleaning powder like Bon Ami to clean off many years of accumulated stains. Rinse off the lures in clean water and set them aside to thoroughly dry.
Take each dry lure and examine the hooks and split rings for rust or corrosion. If the hooks have only a light coating of rust I may simply wipe on a light coating of menhaden oil and return these to the tackle box. If the years of hard use in salt water have caused even questionable damage to the metal hooks its time to remove them and replace them with new hooks.
Treble hooks should be replaced with hooks of the same size whenever possible. The lure manufacturers have tested their lures and have determined what weight and size of hooks to attach to the lures in order to get the best action from the complete lure. Whenever possible, use hooks that will be less likely to rust with time in salt water. Stainless steel hooks may cost more but overall its well worth the cost.
Here’s where one simple tackle tool is worth its weight in gold. A good pair of split ring pliers allows one to spread open the split ring that often holds the hook to the lure body and remove the old hook and install the proper size new hook.
Some of the older lures may have the hooks installed directly to the lure body without the benefit of a split ring. This makes replacing the hook difficult and whenever possible I simply cut the old hook off and put in a split ring then replace the hook.
All metal lures such as spoons and spinner baits usually develop some degree of corrosion even when used over a long period of time in fresh water. After washing them well in hot soapy water I let them dry then apply a good metal polishing paste such as Flitz to the metal. Let the paste dry on the lure for a few minutes then rub it off. If necessary, apply a second coating of the metal polishing paste to the lure but vigorously rub it in for a few minutes then let it dry. Most metal lures will clean up and shine as good as new after a few coatings of a good metal polish.
Some years ago a chemist discovered that certain chemicals can be used to retard rust and corrosion on guns and fishing gear when it’s stored. One such capsule, such as Z-Rust, emits a vapor that retards corrosion. Now Flambeau tackle boxes actually incorporate a rust preventative into the plastic of their boxes. After having used these boxes for a few years I’m convinced that they’re worth buying. They work!
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to try and place fishing lures that have been used in salt or brackish water to the side after use. Before actually putting them back into their proper place in the tackle box they can be rinsed off in fresh water then placed back in the tackle box. I’ve always tried to rinse my rods and reels off after using them in salt water but haven’t been rinsing down the lures and other kinds of terminal gear. It would save a lot of time and money to treat the lures to a fresh water bath after use too.