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After sitting behind the vise for the past couple of months, it is now time to turn my attention to some equipment maintenance. Cleaning rods, reels and fly lines is an often overlooked task, but necessary to keep your fly fishing bling clean and in top working condition.
There are three main components of your gear that need attention at least on a yearly basis. article’s focus will be the fly rod and in a separate one we'll dismantle the fly reel (and hopefully put all the pieces back together).
The rod blank is relatively easy to clean with a little warm soapy water and a clean soft cloth. Mild dish soap works well. It is amazing how shinny your flyrod is after removing the dried on mud, algae, slime and method mix (from your wanna be fluff chucker bait fishing buddies).
Your spouse's tooth brush is great for removing grime from the reel seats and around the guides, but a cotton swab works as well.
When you are finished cleaning, rinse the rod with warm water and dry with a clean soft cloth.
Now take a piece of cotton and pass it through all of the guides to check for burrs or damage to the ceramic guides. The cotton will snag on damaged guides. Replace any worn or damaged guides to avoid damage to your fly line or leader. You wouldn’t want to lose that next personal best.
Applying a rod polish is optional, but does give it a nice shine and makes removing dirt easier. I use a quality car polish which works just fine. Some anglers like to rub a little candle wax on the male ferrule to avoid the ferrules from sticking. I find this is generally not necessary if you keep the ferrules clean.
Cleaning and maintaining the cork grip is a bit more involved, but is not difficult. The best way to keep your cork looking new is with fine grit sand paper. Be careful not to scratch the rod blank and reel seat. Sanding will remove built up grime and discoloring; restoring the cork to its original color. Any chips or pits in the cork can be repaired with wood putty or ground cork mixed with wood glue.
Sand smooth after the patch dries. It is advisable to apply a waterproofing agent to the freshly cleaned cork. Some superstitious anglers choose not to clean their grips as this will remove all the good “mojo”.
Proper maintenance of your fly rod will keep your investment looking new and in good working order.
In next months Fluff Chuckin’ we will make sure that your reel is clean and works like a well oiled machine.