Fort Mill Times

Brad Harvey: It’s time for winter maintenance

These cold, rainy days of winter leave us with little to do as we wait for spring.

That doesn’t mean this period can’t be productive for us. It’s the perfect opportunity to perform a little maintenance on your outdoor gear to assure it all will operate without fail throughout the rest of the year.

During my time as an outdoors store owner in Charleston, I saw many a spring or summer day that was wasted by my customers who brought their equipment in and said something like: “I got my rod and reel out to go fishing and it’s not working. Can you help?”

Every single time that this happened, the troubles those folks encountered could have easily been prevented had they properly cleaned and stored their equipment before putting it away.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, however. Few, if any, ever treat their tackle and gear as they should, and performing an off season tune-up can go a long way toward keeping your blood pressure down and the curse words at a minimum when you put them to use again.

Getting and keeping your fishing reels in top running condition is not that tough.

All of today’s models are easily disassembled, allowing you to place a light coating of reel grease on the gears.

Some models require lithium grease for the bearings while others stick with the old standard reel oil that has been used for decades. If you’re unsure of what to use on yours, check the manufacturer’s website as most makers of better gear will provide the proper information.

The last major part of a reel to consider is the drag. There are types of reel drags on the market that operate with a coating of grease, oil or completely dry.

Again, you’ll need to know the specifics of your reel before tackling this one. If yours requires lubrication, remember to not overdo it. Too much and you’ll find that the drag will spin freely which completely defeats its purpose.

Thin, high-strength braided lines have become all the rage in recent years. Since these have no stretch like the old monofilament lines, they are definitely tougher on your reels, but do you know what they can do to your rods?

These fine diameter lines have the ability to actually cut grooves into the guides that run the length of your rod. At best, this can result in the loss of a good fish as a taut line will inevitably find its way into that channel, but it can also ruin the rod entirely.

Carefully inspect each one of the guides on your rods to make sure this hasn’t happened already. If it has, look into getting the damaged guides replaced or, if it’s a cheaper rod, toss it. There’s no point in fishing with something that will ultimately ruin your day of fishing.

Your rod guides can also corrode just as quickly as the parts within your reel. Before storage, spray a little lightweight oil onto them.

How many times have your ended your hunting season by placing your rifle or shotgun into its place of storage, never to look at it again until the next fall? Did you bother to clean it before doing so?

Go ahead and give it the TLC that it deserves by treating it to your most thorough cleaning of the year.

First, be sure the gun isn’t loaded. Field strip the weapon and wipe off any dirt or residue on the visible parts.

Next, follow the steps provided with every cleaning kit on the market. This will involve the use of solvents and lubricants that will keep your firearms in perfect working order.

When looking at the directions provided with a kit, it can appear to be a tedious task butit’s not and the entire process will take no more than a few minutes to do correctly.

It’s true that a clean firearm is an accurate firearm. And by doing this extensive cleaning during the off-season, I spend less time on my guns during the hunting season by quick cleaning them with a Bore Snake – the handiest little quick cleaning tool ever introduced for guns.

By placing a little solvent and lubricant onto the proper places along the Bore Snake’s length, you can simply make several runs with it through the gun’s bore after each hunting trip. This way, cleanliness is never a concern.

Whether you’re attacking your fishing equipment or showing some love to your guns, everything that you need to do those jobs correctly is both inexpensive and easily found at your nearest sporting goods dealer.

If you’ll just commit the time during these otherwise dull days to do it, your gear is guaranteed to last longer and continue to provide the enjoyment that you expect from them for years to come.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.