President's Hook: Winter Gear Preparation/Storage
Gear care is imperative if you plan on bringing in the big one. Winterizing or storing your gear can play an important part of that. Here is some general guidance.
Waders: I decided to make a phone call to Simms wader repair master, Chris who shared with me some great information. First make sure you rinse and wash down the outside of your waders. Hang dry, then turn inside out and repeat. Check for any pinholes, leaks, or bad seams. If found, repairing them now (or in a worst case scenario replacing them) will make life much more enjoyable in the spring, on that first usually cold fishing trip. He also told me that Simms is now using Nikwax products to treat their waders. Tech Wash and/or TX.Direct wash-in or spray will renew the Durable Water Repellency and revive breathability of your waders. Beware: only use a front loading washer, as the agitator in a top loading machine can damage the waders. Then, after allowing to dry either hang in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight or ROLL up and put in a bag (apparently mice enjoy snacking on gore tex). Folding the waders will put creases and wear marks in them and significantly reduce life of your waders.
Wading Boots: Different materials will require their own care requirements, but for leather boots, a leather care product such as sno-seal, Gear-aid ReviveX DWP, various Nikwax or similar products would work well. But again any questions should be answered by the manufacturer. Bottom line, make absolutely certain that your wading boots are completely dry before storing in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. Also, try to avoid putting things on top of your boots that might crush (and break down) your boots.
Rods: Wipe down with a cloth, inspect for any damage, store in tube (cardboard, PVC, metal, etc.) in dry location out of sunlight. If you find any dings, chips, cracks, broken guides, or other damage, now is the time to get it repaired or replaced. Especially inspect the guides for wear, and a cloth with rubbing alcohol can be used to clean the cork on the handle of your rod (if applicable).
Reels: Should already have drag, if applicable, backed off. Spool removed and both reel and spool wiped down. If you are planning to remove the line, now is a great time to do so. Again, getting back to specific items, in some cases reel oil and/or grease might be appropriate. But in other situations, manufacturers will advise against the use.
Fly Line: Can be stripped off the reel, cleaned (using a cleaning solution and a cleaning cloth such as AgentX from Rio, Stream Line from Loon Outdoors, Cortland XL Fly line cleaner, or Scientific Anglers Fly Line Dressing to name a few), and loosely coiled and hung in a closet or laid out on a flat surface (out of direct sunlight). Some folks have found that placing in a ziploc bag is a good trick. If your line doesn’t have an imprinted “line ID”, it’s a good idea to mark what the line is also.
Flies: Make sure your box(s) is dry and there are no rusty hooks present. An accounting of what you have/need can help prepare you for next season (especially if you tie your own flies).
I hope this helps get your gear ready to roll come the spring fishing opener, and may the list you came up with be fulfilled so you are all ready to go when you are ready to hit the water.
Alaska Fly Fishers 200 W 34th Ave, Suite 1233 Anchorage, AK 99503