Tackle the Tackle

By Bruce "Captain Swish" DuncanNZ Fishing World
Tackle the Tackle

Feeling the line snap on a big fish when the reel fails really drives home the importance of maintenance. It’s a hard way to learn the lesson of being diligent with your gear.

Most of our fishing gear sits idle and we don’t give it a second thought till we are about to head out for a fish. It is only when we are out on the water and it all turns to custard and a fish is lost due to gear failure that it really hits home. 

I would have to admit that I am no different to most people, if not in fact somewhat lazier. It’s only having learnt from the school of hard knocks over the years by being busted off a number of times due to sticky drags and old nylon. 

Learn to love your drag

Get into the habit of always backing off the drag every time the reels have been used (once it’s been washed). 

Constant pressure on the drag washers compresses them out of shape, which is what causes them to stick. This is probably the single most over looked thing that people fail to do after fishing.

One little trick I have learnt over the years is to give the handle of the reel a few turns while holding the spool to warm up and smooth out the drag system. Reels do need more than just a bit of grease and a polish. I strongly suggest that unless you know what you are doing, leave it to the experts. 

The key point to washing your reels is not to squirt the hose full blast at them as all this does is drive the salt further into the reel. A light scrub with soapy water and then fresh water dribbled over the reel will loosen and remove the salt out of the reel.


Big Snapper will test every element of your gear, including sticky drag washers and poor nylon.

Bulk is best

Buying a bulk spool of quality mono is often cheaper over time and will refill more spools than the smaller spools. Cheap line is false economy because it is cheap for a reason. Cheap line will twist and kink and has so much memory you could re-spring your trailer. 

The big plus is that it now gives you back up line to keep on the boat if you get spooled by a big fish or sell to your mates at a vast profit if they get spooled. 

Buying the likes of hooks and swivels in bulk is not only a cheaper option in the long run but it also gives you backup. Keep the bulk packs at home rather than on the boat where they could be exposed to the salt air, then only when things get low do you top them up.

Apply some law and order to the tackle box

Let’s be honest, the tackle box takes a fair bit of a beating over a season. There is nothing worse than having to rummage round looking for the right size sinkers or hooks only to remember your mates used the last of the size you are now looking for on the previous trip. When the fishing is hot and I am going through a bit of gear I make a mental note that I must replace it.

I find it best to have a preseason clean out, which starts with dumping the entire contents out on the table, sorting everything from hooks, swivels and sinkers into its right size and making a list of what needs replacing. 

Make sure that you wash and dry the tackle box before you start to refill it as there will be salt residue in it that will start to attack the new gear if not properly cleaned out first.

Buying hardware in bulk and transferring when necessary to the tackle box on the boat is a smart way of saving money and making sure you don't run out when the fishing gets hot.

Tidy Traces

I have one heavy duty rod dedicated solely for trolling incase I come across a school of tuna, kahawai or kingfish.

Twice a year I take the time to replace all the traces on the different size and types of lures I run, which are kept in zip lock bags. These bags I find are a much better way to go as it keeps the traces from tangling, making it a very quick and simple job to change a lure if one is not working.

After use they get washed, dried and put back in their individual airtight bags, which stops the hooks from rusting. 

With our busy lives it take only a few hours to have a major sort out and it is well worth the effort. As we all know, playing with fishing gear can actually be therapeutic and good for the soul.

Catch the latest news

Packed full of the latest fishing news and tips on the best spots. Fresh to your inbox every week.

Sign up with email