If you’re reading this, you know — the fishing season is right around the corner. And anglers across Alaska are busy getting their equipment ready for the upcoming season. Here are a few tips from professional angler Tony Weaver that should help you avoid any problems:
Waders or Hip Boots
Anyone who fishes Alaska knows that most fishing requires some type of hip boot or chest wader. Check for any leaks in your waders by shining a flashlight in a dark rook into your waders. Small, pin-hole seam leaks will be become evident by the light.
The best fix for the smaller holes is a product called UV light activated cement. Loon Outdoors, Rio and other manufacturers make small tubes that can be carried in the field. The cement is activated by the sun (UV light) or you can buy a UV small penlight, which is sold with the cement. Shine the light on the repair area or place the waders outside in the sun to properly cure the glue. Most specialty outdoors stores will have this product.
For larger seam leaks or repairs I prefer to patch or seal the area with a product called Aquaseal. It comes with a product called cotol, which is an accelerator, that cures the product faster. This can shorten the cure time from 20 hours to 15 minutes. Aquaseal is available in most retail fishing departments or specialty shops.
Check spinning or casting monofilament for line wear, stretching or sun damage. Any of these defects will severely weaken your line. Peel off the first 30 feet of monofilament line and discard it, giving you fresh line to begin with. If the line has been exposed to weather or light for an extended time, replacing the whole spool with new line is a good idea.
Remove spools on spin reels and clean the interior of the spool with a rag and grease. You should also oil the spindle and gears and wipe down all exterior crud. Next, oil the handle joints and moving points on the bail assembly. Appropriate oil and grease for fishing reels can be found in the fishing section of your local outdoor retailer. Buy a well-known brand, such as Penn or South Bend.
Fly lines have a limited shelf life, so taking care of them is important.
Check for cracks, discoloration, embedded dirt and dryness. Dry, dirty fly lines do not cast well. I recommend cleaning most fly lines with a mild dish soap and warm water before the season begins. Soak really dirty lines and rinse with clean water. Remember to lubricate the line with a good fly line cleaner dressing. Most fly shops will have cleaners and lubricants.
Expensive fly lines should be stored away from sunlight and fluorescent lighting because they will damage the coating. Store line in a cool, dark drawer after removing from the reel.
Clean the reel seats of all rods by removing all residue, salt, grit or corrosion from the handle assembly. Apply a light coating of oil and wipe down with a cloth. Also, check the guides and make sure the inner rings are not rough. I prefer a Q-tip to check if there are any dings, cuts or snags that are present. Smooth rough spots out with emory paper or a fine grain sand paper (200 and higher).
Braided lines and glacial slit will slowly wear through most guides after time.
Clean ferrules (female and male ends) with a Q-tip and water for the female section, then wipe down male portion with micro-fiber cloth. I use carnauba wax on my rods as a finishing polish before the season. This helps to keep bait stains and scratches to a minimum.
Tony Weaver has spent 40-plus years fishing in Alaska. He’s also a photographer and author of “Topwater: Flyfishing the Last Frontier Alaska.” He currently writes for ADN and can be seen on OLN’s program “Alaska Outdoors.”