LeBlanc: Fine tune your rods, hooks and lures

Fishing rods can be one of the most abused products that you can find almost anywhere, with the possible exception of screw drivers. Screw drivers are used for chisels, scrapers, pry bars, and even screw drivers. Fishing rods are not nearly so multipurpose but some are abused just as badly.

The fishing rods of today are extremely tough and resilient, but they have their limits. Some of the abuses I have witnessed with fishing rods over the years are slamming the trunk lid on them, stepping on them in the bottom of the boat is always a good one. Lay them in the bottom of a boat and then someone will inevitably put the icebox or fuel tank on top of them. Place them in a corner of the garage and watch the boards, shovels and rakes pile up on top of them. I once knew a lady that was deathly afraid of lizards and once saw one on the back porch and grabbed her husband’s fly rod and swatted at the poor critter until she broke the tip on the nine foot split bamboo rod.

I have had a couple rods break on me over the years and as much as I might wish to tout the cause to be “hooking the big one,” close examination has shown the failure has been the direct result of abuse of the rod at some time in the past.

To help to insure you don’t really “loose the big one” because the rod broke, periodically examine your rods closely from end to end. Look for cracks, dents, splits or any other sign of stress or weakness. A slight dent is a spot that will break under pressure.

Examine the grip. A covering coming off, or showing cracking or wear needs to be addressed. Take the time and glue it back down or replace it with a new one. Having it come off in the middle of a fight with a trophy bass can ruin your whole day.

Another important part of any rod is the eyes. They should all be smooth and free from burrs, nicks, and corrosion. A small rough area on an eye can rub on the line and cause chafing that will weaken it and under the stress of fighting a fish it will break.

Rough areas on eyes can be handled in a couple different ways. If the eye is not too bad and made of metal, you can try some light polishing with 500 or 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper. Sandpaper in those fine grits can be obtained from your local hardware store or auto parts house. Use it wet and polish lightly.

To get inside of the eyes you may need a wooden dowel smaller than the eye. Tear off a piece of sandpaper about two inches square and wrap the wet sandpaper around the dowel and pass it through the eye and lightly polish the rough area until it is smooth enough to not abrade the line when it passes through.

Keep wetting the sandpaper, as that removes the sanded off material and keeps the sandpaper working better and longer. Also be sure not to create a sharp angle with your sanding as that can cause as much of a problem as the burr you are trying to remove. If you cannot polish it out without it looking like you did it, it may be best to replace the eye.

New eyes can be obtained for less than ten dollars to around twenty five dollars depending on the size, number you need, and makeup to match the original. A company that has the eyes they should also have the thread to tie it with and the coating with which to coat the finished tie job. Just a note: I went on line to Academy and Bass Pro and got no hits for my searches for rod eyes and guides, but I did at Amazon.

Lure hooks can be a reason for loosing strikes. The hooks should all be checked routinely to make sure they are secure and sharp. After a few trips of dragging a lure through the stumps and undergrowth on Lake Conroe, hooks can become mighty dull.

Hook sharpening tools are available at almost anywhere that sells fish hooks, or an Arkansas stone that is used for sharpening knives will work fine. Dress the hooks until they are nice and sharp and you will have a much better chance of setting the hook when the strike comes.

While you are checking the lures, check the eyes where you tie them to the line. Make sure it is closed and not broken or opened possibly allowing the line to slip off. Be sure it is not rusted or corroded, as rust and corrosion will cause chafing of the line and breakage. Also, be sure to check that the eye and hooks are secure in the lure and not loose.

It is such a challenge to hook and land a big bass or a nice crappie it would seem unthinkable to lose one because of a lack of attention to the little details mentioned above.

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