Fishing and Tackle Care Tips

Fishing Tips

How to...

Use a back pack for long treks

Instead of carting around a huge fishing tackle box with all of your fishing supplies for all types of fishing, take a small back pack with you.

You can leave the big tackle box in the boot and load up the back pack with just the sinkers, hooks, swivels, floats, etc., that you need for this particular trip. If you store all your required tackle in little clear plastic clip-lock boxes, they will not become mixed up, and are easy to take out when needed.

This is particularly good when fishing the surf or walking a long distance to the fishing spot, as you will most likely save yourself from carrying a few kilos extra, and you can carry it safely on your back. Keys, wallets, food, etc., can be safely zipped into side pockets too. Reels can also be removed from the rods and put into the bag to not only make the rods easier to carry, but also to protect the reels.

To Make your own weights for fishing

Yes, sure you can buy them ready made but there is a bit of fun in making a mould and then melting lead to fill it. You can get your lead from the weights that fall off car tyres (see photo - the balance weights). Occasionally, if you see a house getting wrecked they may also have scrap lead that they will allow you to grab.

A knot in time saves anchors!

This may come across as a stupid idea/hint and some people may even get a giggle out of it whilst others who have had this happen to them will be able to share the "embarrassment". Do not forget to tie on your anchors at both ends.

After experiencing first hand the result of not tying off the anchor rope to the boat and after replacing a $75 and over boat anchor you can imagine my disappointment to find that the second time round I put the "D" ring through the chain length but forgot to put the bolt through the ring. Result: two anchors and $150 gone in two throws!

Tackle box care: Rice keeps moisture down

Put a bed of rice in your tackle box, it will keep your trebles (and other hooks, jigs and stuff) dry and free from rust.

Ear plugs keep you safe from hooks

Hook safety, You can use a pair of ear plugs and push them onto the hooks so your jigs are set up either in the tackle box or on the rod and you don't have to worry about getting spiked or loose hooks. It's quite handy with kids too, as I give them a hook with an ear plug on the barb so they can thread it onto the jig without getting a barb in the finger.

Also easy to see the hook on the rod or in the tackle box with the ear plug on the end of hook. Just remember to dispose of them properly or put them in your pocket and reuse them after a great day's fishing.

Keep your drag system in smooth working order

When servicing your fishing reel drag system, spend a few minutes with the metal drag washers to ensure smooth fishing.

Lay down a sheet of very fine (600-800 grit or finer) wet and dry paper on a sheet of glass on your bench. Wet with a few drops of light oil. With light and then moderate finger pressure rub your metal drag washers around in a figure 8 pattern until there are no visible raised marks on its surface. Do both sides. The glass gives you a true flat smooth surface backing for your wet and dry paper.

You'll find your drag system will now be able to be fine tuned so that line can be smoothly taken by a fish without the jerking that so often stresses your knots, causing terminal failures and causing lost fish.

To set your drag correctly, use a set of spiring scales and hook your line up to it. Place a working (fighting) curve into your rod and set the drag at the point when line comes off the spool smoothly at 1/3 of the breaking strain of your line. I.e.: if you are fishing 6 kg line your drag should give line smoothly at 2kg of pull. ...Abd that'll wear out a fair sized fish in short time.

Converting floats for use at night

Here is an idea that you can use to convert your pencil float into a night float. If you don't like using those big bulky floats like Bobby Dazzlers. Maybe because you don't find them as sensitive to the bite as the pencil float. When it gets hard to see the float you just slide on some silicone rubber which you can buy from most tackle shops, you can use 4-4.5mm for your floats.

You will find this size fits your starlite which will slide in very snugly. The advantages are that you can still use a light rig well into the night and not have to mess around changing to a Bobby Dazzler or similar which I find you usually lose your starlight upon casting anyway, which works out a bit expensive.

Light sticks attract squid at night?!

Chasing squid off piers and jetties doesn't have to be restricted to day time. At night, attach a small cyalume style light stick to the main line about 0.5 to 1 metre above your squid jig and fish it down current from the jetty or boat in small jerky motions. Working the jig at night in under the jetty just out of the light is very effective too. Squid just can't resist them.

It works just as well with the prawn imitation lures as with baited rigs. Most of the smaller light sticks you buy at tackle shops have a small plastic tube in the pack to attach it to the line. Omniglow ( offers amazing range of products.

Keep you landing net secured

We all have a landing net in our boats and we know how annoying it can be when the net gets tangled up in the CB or fixed fire extinguisher, etc. So basically all you need to do is place an elastic band, preferably a heavy duty one, at the top of the handle. Then tuck the end of the net under the elastic band, resulting in a much more non swearing environment.

Power Source for Small Sounders by Peter

One of my greatest pleasures is to work out how to make the things I see in tackle shops for minimal cost. The results may not be pretty but some of them actually work.

I use a small Eagle sounder to locate reefs, etc., in the Black Rock area where I do most of my fishing. My small outboard does not need an external battery.

After trying lead acid batteries (heavy/bulky/expensive) and gell cell batteries (expensive), I took a stanley knife and carved out part of the internal compartment in the plastic box in which the sounder was supplied, so that it would hold 2 x 6 volt lantern type batteries - $3-4 each at discount shops. One pair of batteries lasts a whole season.

Make your own fishing trolley

I have come up with this great little trolley for all us fishos who enjoy a surf fish but hate lifting all our gear up and down the beaches to those gutters that always seem to be further away than they looked.

I have been using this all season and have enjoyed the surf fish a lot more this year. Pick yourself up a cheap golf buggy with slick wheels from a garage sale and then grind off all the fancy gagdets that hold the bag on (don't worry, it won't rust, it's aluminium). Then bolt to it a nice big plastic box, I was lucky enough to get a freebie through Coles supermarkets but you can also pick up cheap ones from Bunnings, etc. Then hunt around for some 50mm plastic pipe, also available from Bunnings, and bolt as many as you like to the plastic box, but make sure that the tubes you use to carry your rods are not too close together as they may knock together and get damaged.

Also make sure all nuts and bolts are galvanised or stainless so they don't rust. I have 4 tubes in mine which I find enough for myself and a friend and all tackle needed for the day. If you are lucky this project will cost next to nothing with a bit of scrounging and begging in the right directions and is well worth it for an easier day on the beach. by Dave

Tips on storing soft plastics

When storing soft plastic lures, always store them in separate containers from other solid lures and in separate colours.

This will stop the lures from coming out looking like a rainbow coloured lure. When soft plastics are stored in a container, make sure the container is sealed and that no sunlight or heat can penetrate into the lures. If this happens your lures will stick to the edges of the container, but also stick together, which would ruin any fisherman's day.

Avoiding "superline" fouls

When using the new 'superlines' over reefy, rocky or snaggy areas they have a higher tendancy (over monofilament) to snag owing to the nature of the line. The tip here is to run a metre-plus length of monofilament trace between the superline and the rig. Do not allow the line to belly too much, or your superline , even with your monofilament leader may still reach the bottom and foul up.

Velcro helps hold the rod

To avoid having my rod and reel go into the water, I place Velcro tabs 3 1/2 inches long on my vest (using shoe goo adhesive). Place it on the right and left front side of the zipper/between pockets. Now you can open tabs and wrap velcro around the rod.

Boat Fishing: Carpet deadens the sound

Line the bottom of your boat with an old piece of indoor/outdoor carpet. This will greatly deaden the noise of your feet on the bottom of the boat and you won't spook the fish as much.

More tips to prevent corrosion

Sick of rusty hooks in your tackle box? Rub in a few drops of olive oil for protection from corrosion. The scent will not deter fish from lures or your bait when it's used later.

After a saltwater trip: After a saltwater fishing trip it pays to give your rods a squirt with freshwater because this will prevent corrosion. Also it is better to take your reels off your rods when storing them after a saltwater session because sometimes the reel seat gets corroded from the reel sitting in there trapping the salt.

Another easy way to prevent rust attacking fishing knives and hooks is to smear the smallest amount of Vaseline (white petroleum jelly) an them. Leave it to dry and hope for the best.

Sharp hooks catch more fish, and chemically sharpened hooks aren't cheap, so look after them.

You can use empty Fuji film containers to store your hooks in your fishing tackle box, and write the hook size and type on the side with a permanent marker. This keeps the spray off hooks not being used and prevents rust, as well as making it easier for you to find the right hook for the job.

The easy way to check the sharpness of your hooks is to gently run the point over your thumbnail and if it scratches it easily it's sharp, if it doesn't then get rid of it.

Handy additions to the tackle box

Three items in my tackle box are a sheet of lead from a plumber supply shop, a pair of heavy scissors and my imagination.

Lead squares of 5 or 10 mm can be folded and nipped onto the line like split shot. 10 mm or wider strips can be cut to length and rolled to form any weight sinker required - fold the edge of a 2 inch by 3 inch rectangle over an elongated wire loop to form a keel to add weight to the rig when trolling cowbells or ford fenders. Heavy pieces tied to a securing cord can be wrapped around your main line and dropped to maybe retrieve that snagged spinner.

More Tips on maintaining your gear

Any salt water fisherman knows the importance of cleaning their equipment well after each session fishing. Cleaning rods and reels with fresh water after an outing in the salt is a must, drying rods after cleaning is easy, but reels are a little more difficult. If you live in close proximity to the sea, salt laden air can still get into your reels and cause havoc. After cleaning reels with fresh water and drying them as best you can both inside and out, spray lightly with the commercial 'Fish Oil' in an aerosol can - this inhibits any rust that may have already formed and also repels water. Finally a quick spray and wipe with RP7 or similar, place your reel in a snap lock plastic bag and it is safe and protected till the next use.

Clean your gear in the shower

Use your shower for cleaning your fishing rods. Not only will the warm water dissolve any salt water, the gentle spray will ensure that sand isn't forced into any of the moving parts, which can happen if you simply rinse your gear with the garden hose.

PVC pipe make great surf rod holder

When beach fishing buy a metre length of white PVC pipe from your local plumbing store. Cut each end at an angle and when you push one end into the sand the other will be a perfect rod holder which will stop your reel getting sand and water in it!

Keep your catch fresh

It never ceases to amaze me how many people who have a good day's fishing forget to bring a specific esky or bucket (with lid) and store their catch with ice. Not too much as to freeze it and ruin that special fresh fish taste but enough to stop the catch spoiling.

Another idea: Get an container and an aerator (Big W for about $10). That way you keep your fish really fresh especially when you are out fishing on the pier/boat for hours. But that's not only the point, if you catch too much, you can always release the smaller ones! That way, you have your catch and help the fish stocks out.

Fixing a broken rod tip

If the car door monster eats the tip of your rod, it is easily fixed. Grab the tip and hold it with a cloth. Hold a lighter under the tip, until the fibreglass shoots out. If after 15 seconds this hasn't happened, pull it out with some pliers.

Now just slide the tip onto the (slightly shorter) rod, with a bit of super glue to keep it there. This will only work if you lose an inch or so. If it is broken further back, it is probably better to just go to the next eyelet anyway.

Before You Go

First, determine whether bringing fishing rods is altogether necessary.

If you can avoid flying with them, that’s your best option. Many fishing lodges provide quality sticks to their guests. If you’re going to visit a friend, ask to borrow some of his rods. If you’re going someplace where you won’t be able to borrow rods, and you only need a few, you might just want to buy a few inexpensive ones when you arrive, or purchase them online and have them shipped there, and then leave them there for next time. It might not cost more than baggage fees.

If you’ll only need a few rods, consider investing in three- or four-piece travel rods, which you can likely bring on the plane with you. Most serious fishermen have a bias against multiple-piece rods, but companies like Loomis, Daiwa and St. Croix all now make travel rods that are much better than their predecessors.

Next, before booking your ticket, figure out which airlines going to your destination allow rod tube sized luggage at all. Typically, if they allow skis or surfboards or other bulky gear, you’ll be in luck, but carefully check size limitations.

For example, American Airlines will allow a tube up to 126” in length. Delta, on the other hand, allows tubes up to 115”, but anything over 62” will be charged oversized baggage fees. Southwest, which is generally fairly generous on luggage, only allows tubes up to 91” long and 3” in diameter. Others are even more strict. While an accommodating desk clerk may let you squeeze a 92” tube on when the limit is 91”, don’t count on it, and certainly don’t count on being able to get one on if it greatly exceeds their allowances.

If your ticket is a code share trip, be sure that the airline you’re actually traveling on has the same baggage policy. If you buy a ticket through Airline X, but one or more of the flights will be on partner Airline Y, and Y doesn’t allow your tube, you’ve got a problem.
Print out the airline’s baggage policy and put it in your carry-on bag for future reference.

Getting the Right Rod Tube and Getting it Ready

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There are a number of quality rod tubes on the market, some of them adjustable to accommodate rods of lengths up to 112” long. I try to limit the rods that I bring to 7’6”. Why? It’s semi-arbitrary, and there are certainly times I’d prefer to have a 7’11” cranking rod or flipping stick, but I feel like when I get much past the 7’6” point the tube becomes more unwieldy – harder to get through customs, harder to put in some vehicles (remember, you won’t always have your big truck or SUV at distant locations). Use your own judgment on this one.

Packing the Tube

Figure out which rods you can afford to lose. In other words, you have to assume that every rod you travel with will get broken at some point in the trip, so don’t bring grandpa’s irreplaceable heirloom stick unless you want to be crushed.
Once you figure out which rods you need, if there’s room for one more, add it. It can either be a duplicate for the technique you expect to utilize most, or an “all-purpose” rod (for example, a 7’ medium-heavy) that in a pinch will do a lot of different things reasonably well.

Once you’ve selected the rods you want to take, the easiest path would seem to be to slide them in the tube, close it up, and be done with it. Now you can watch TV and drink beer. Don’t do that. Take five extra minutes and you’ll be glad that you did. Remember, graphite is brittle and if you let the rods rattle around in the tube, they are going to get damaged. Assume that baggage handlers will drop the tube, hold it upside-down, or otherwise mistreat it. You don’t want the rods to be able to move at all in the tube.

Find an old bed sheet. It can be a Star Wars or Pokemon bed sheet that you no longer use, or one that’s ripped. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Lay it out on the ground. Put one rod at the edge and fold it the sheet over. Then lay another rod, with the tip facing the other way, next to it, and fold it over again. Remember, the rods are brittle, so a layer of sheet in between each one and the next is critical. When you lay them out, make sure that no tip extends beyond the longest handle. That way, whether the tube is right side up or wrong side up, the rods inside will be resting on a butt rather than a tip.

Once you’ve rolled up the sheet with the fishing rods nestled inside, take four or five long cable ties (AKA, zip ties) and secure the bundle. Even with 10 or 12 rods, it should be a fairly compact package. If you want to be extra careful, you can take bubble wrap or rags and secure them around each end.
Not only does packing your rods in the sheet protect them, but it also makes it harder for some unauthorized person to open the tube, slide out a single rod and take it for their own future use.