Tackle the Tackle Box Before Winter October 4, 2022

Nobody likes to do unpleasant things, and one of those is going through your well-used tackle box in the fall and performing that end-of-season clean-up and consolidation.

It’s unpleasant because it means summer is over, most of the fishing for the year is in the books, and that’s always a sad thing to contemplate. But going through the tackle box at the end of the year is important to keep your gear in top form, so when the weather warms up again next year, you’ll be ready to go.

The simplest advice for tackling the tackle box is the Rule of Threes: Three things to do and three things not to do.


Wash your gear. You should, of course, wash your gear after every use, but now that the season is mostly done, it’s time for a good final wash of everything. From your reels to your waders to the lines you use, give all your gear a good cleaning. Use warm soapy water and a soft brush (an old toothbrush works great). Remove any dirt or grime build up, especially if you fish in salt water.

Oil the reel’s moving parts.  Take your reel apart and clean its interior. After the pieces have dried, apply a small amount of oil to lubricate the moving parts. Oil the top of the gear’s teeth, not the bottom.

Replace worn guides and old lines.  As you clean your rods, look for worn places on the guides, chips, grooves or areas that need rewrapping. Examine the lines carefully and toss any that are worn. After cleaning the lines in warm soapy water, rinse, dry and store in loose coils.


Don’t leave any gear wet.  After washing, allow all your gear to thoroughly dry before storing away for the winter. Store your rods and reels indoors, away from the elements.

Don’t lean your rods against the wall.  Most anglers use a mounted rack to store their rods vertically to avoid bending. It’s also a good idea to remove the reel from the rod before storing for the season.

Don’t keep worn out tackle.  Take the time to go through your tackle box, examine all your favorite lures and check for wear and tear, rust, worn hooks, etc.  Be strong and toss any gear that has outlived its usefulness, even if that pink plastic wormy thing always brought in the fish! You can buy a new one if necessary.  This is the time of year to thin the herd in your tackle box!

If you want to be super-organized, you can sort your gear by category or color. Put similar items together, or lures and plugs arranged by species, type of water and more. You know how you like to fish, so arrange your gear (once cleaned and checked for wear) in the categories you like best.

Once your gear is cleaned, dried and stored properly, you can relax knowing that come spring, you’ll be ready for another great year of angling.

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