Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Common Sense Fishing Tips- 1
Common Sense Fishing Tips- 1

Some things that have to do with fishing are just plain common sense.

I had a lady buy a rod and reel one day to go surf fishing. Two days later she comes back and wonders why she can’t get the reel to work right. The line was snarled up under the spool, so we took off the spool to get out the line and noticed piles of sand underneath the spool. We hosed it all out but it was all too late, because the sand had got inside and the anti-reverse mechanism did not work. In layman’s terms, the reel won’t lock and the reel turns freely backwards and forwards. This makes the line go every which way and you just can’t fish without the reel going into a locking position. When sand gets into the inner workings of a reel the anti-reverse often times quits working. It’s just a little spring and piece of metal that makes it work, but it’s not an easy fix because you have to take the reel totally apart to get to it. If you buy a $20 reel it’s not worth finding a reel mechanic to fix it because it’s going to cost you more than the reel is worth.

So, that being said, the most important thing to know about caring for your surf fishing reel is to not get it in the sand. A simple PVC sand spike is like buying insurance for your new surf rod and reel. When you change your bait or take a fish off the hook it’s hard not to let the reel fall in the sand without one. We explained this to the lady who bought another new surf reel, but she refused to buy a sand spike because… I don’t know why.

The other thing that happened in our tackle store the other day was that two rental surf rod and reel combos were brought back all glistening wet like someone hosed them off for us! Wow, that was nice. I got to wondering, so I gave them the finger swipe test. Yes, I tasted saltwater. The customers cleaned off my rental rods in the ocean so I would not see the sand inside the reels.

This is another common sense issue we see all the time. You would not clean off your car by driving it into the ocean. In a few days all that salt would start doing even more damage than the initial plunge would do. So tell the kids not to wash off the sand by submerging the rods and reels in the ocean. They may work right after, but two or three days later the rust will set in and they can totally lock up.

The best thing to do with your surf equipment or any saltwater equipment is to hose them off with a light spray from the hose. I turn the reels upside down when I spray them so no water lays inside the reel if it happens to get inside. Be sure to wash off all the guides and the tip of the rod as well. Over time, salt on a tip will weaken the metal frame.

Working in a tackle store we see all kinds of screw ups. I guess the worst common sense issue is not asking questions when you don’t know something. I remember on the first weekend this summer, when I rented a rod to a couple and they went fishing. In retrospect, I should have asked, “Do you know how to use them?” I was busy and didn’t ask. I paid for that mistake. An hour later the rods came back with the line wrapped all around the rods and reels from the tip to the butt. How could this happen? It’s that dang anti-reverse switch again! I’m so glad that Penn has done away with the mechanism. Penn reels stay in a locked position! So many new anglers, kids especially, think that the anti-reverse switch should be turned off to cast. The best thing to do with the anti-reverse switch is to put it in the locked position and leave it on. So what is it for? To subtly let out a little line, or to unjam a rod/reel if the swivel gets too close to the tip. You can fix this by loosening up the drag a bit.

“What’s a drag?”

The drag is that little knob on top of the spool that lessens or increases your line tension. That’s so a big fish will not break the line or pull you overboard! The drag is how you can catch a 50 pound fish on 20 pound line.

When anglers buy a rod and reel combo, sometimes the drag is set real loose when they are shipped from overseas. If you go fishing, and the drag is real loose, you can’t reel in your line. Be sure to check the drag and the anti-reverse button before you go fishing for the first time. If you’re not sure about any of that stuff, let the clerk in the tackle store go over it with you. Ask them to spool your reel and tie a snap swivel to the end of the line. It will only take them a few minutes and may save you frustration if you are a newbie. If you are a brand new fisherman just let the tackle store employee know up front so they can help you.

Using common sense is something most of us know but don’t always use. I didn’t use common sense the other day when I went out in the boat without my raincoat, knowing there was a 50 per cent chance of rain! Luckily, it didn’t rain, but boy it sure got dark once! Looking at the weather and the radar is always a good common sense issue, especially if you are going out in your boat. If you are taking company out with you, it’s especially important to check the weather.

Good fishing…

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.