Whether you plan on hanging up your rods this winter or not, we recommend going through your gear thoroughly at least once or twice a year. If you’re an avid angler, your equipment may require more routine maintenance than average. So, to help you tackle this task, we put together this checklist on how to maintain your fishing gear in the winter. Find out what eleven tasks you need to check off this offseason to keep your gear functional.

How To Maintain Your Fishing Gear in the Winter: 11 Things To Do

1. Perform a Complete Edit of Your Fishing Tackle

You should perform a complete edit of your tackle during the off-season or even before a big fishing trip. Start by cutting and throwing away frayed lines. Then, go through your tackle box and toss out rusted or bent hooks, damaged swivels, and shredded soft plastics. Throw out any broken items that are past the point of repair. This edit is crucial because it helps you clean out your tackle box, and it keeps you from using faulty gear that could cause you to lose fish.

2. Replace Damaged Hooks on Lures

If you’re having mixed feelings about throwing out your favorite lure because it’s treble hook broke, don’t worry, we have another solution for you. Instead of getting rid of it, try replacing the damaged treble hook with a new one. Switching out rusty trebles on hard plastics is easy! All you need are some brand new hooks and a pair of split ring pliers. For example, take your pliers, crimp the split ring, remove the hook, and change it out. You can even replace the treble with a different style hook if you prefer.

3. Restore Rusted Tackle with a Non-Toxic Soak

A gallon of WD-40, used for maintaining gear, on a workbench.

Image Credit: WD-40 on Amazon

If you notice surface rust on your tackle, reels, guides, or lures during your edit, you can restore them effortlessly with a non-toxic soak. WD-40 makes this rust removal product that contains safe, biodegradable materials that work quickly to restore metal. Also, it’s simple to use! Start by brushing any debris off your gear, then soak it for at least 30 minutes in the solution. After those 30 minutes are up, remove and clean the item. If there’s still some rust on the product, you can repeat the soak until it’s gone. Lastly, follow up with a lure conditioner for added protection.

4. Repaint Faded Hard Plastics

Another way you can restore old hard plastics is by putting a fresh coat of paint on faded lures. Painting lures is a fun pastime for some anglers in the off-season. It’s a great way to customize or revamp old fishing lures to get them ready for the next season. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, check out with the process entails. Then, if you’re looking for a starter airbrush kit, check out this one by Master Airbrush.

5. Reorganize Your Tackle Box

After you’ve completed your edit and replaced or restored any damaged equipment, it’s time to reorganize your tackle box. There are many ways to organize gear. You can:

  • Separate lures by what species they target
  • Group like items together
  • Dedicated bags for fly, ice, or saltwater fishing

The options are endless, so in the end, set up your tackle to suit your fishing needs.

6. Break Down and Clean Your Rods and Reels

The person using the DeadFish Gear Rod and Reel Care Kit to clean their fishing gear.

Image Credit: DeadFish Gear on Amazon

Next, it’s always good to do a routine cleaning of all of your rods and reels. You can clean your rods with a soap water mixture or use a commercial cleaner like this one by DeadFish Gear. After you wash your rods and reels down, ensure you dry them off completely before storing them. Finally, follow up with a reel lubricant for the best results.

7. Properly Store Your Fishing Rods

The KastKing rod holder attached to a wall.

Image Credit: KastKing on Amazon

After you clean your rods, it’s time to store them in a safe, dry place for the wintertime. If you have rod cases for your gear, ensure you return your poles to their specific bags. Or, you can also hang your fishing rods on a rack, like this KastKing rod holder, in your home or garage. Using a fishing rod rack can help prevent your gear from getting damaged.

8. Relabel Your Equipment With a Label Maker

A person typing on a DYMO label maker.

Image Credit: DYMO on Amazon

Label makers are an excellent way to imprint your rods with your conservation number and return address. Other fishing items we like to keep labeled are:

  • Tackle containers
  • Fishing Nets
  • Gigging Rods
  • Fishing jugs
  • Switch boxes on boats to identify each function

If you’re in the market for an affordable label maker to mark your rods, check out this DYMO model.

9. Conduct Preventative Maintenance on Your Fishing Boat

If you regularly fish from a boat, you must perform routine maintenance to keep it running right. Here is a list of things you should check on your fishing boat:

  • Inspect the interior and exterior
  • Make sure the boat is clean and free of leaks or holes
  • Check the engine
  • Check your propeller
  • Make sure your trolling motor is operational
  • Examine the battery and electrical system
  • Replace broken wires
  • Inspect the bilge pump
  • Change the oil and filter
  • Refill fluids
  • Check the drain plug
  • Make sure your fire extinguisher and other emergency equipment are up-to-date

10. Conduct Preventative Maintenance on Your Kayak

Or, if you prefer fishing out of a kayak, here is a checklist you can follow this winter to maintain it:

  • Clean your kayak with a soap water mixture
  • Dry your kayak off completely
  • Screw down or replace fittings
  • Spray it down with UV spray
  • Check the trolling motor if you have one
  • Examine the battery if you have it
  • Cover your kayak to prevent debris from entering
  • Store your kayak upsidedown in a safe and dry spot

11. Replace Broken Tackle Bags

Last but not least on our list, it is an excellent idea to replace broken tackle bags during the winter. Tackle bags with rips or holes can cause you to lose your gear while fishing. Or, if you don’t want to part with your favorite tackle bag, you can also patch up holes or resew worn-out straps with a sewing machine.

Tackle bags come in many shapes and sizes. If you would like to get some ideas on what bag style is best for you, check out our review of the best tackle boxes.

Keep Your Gear Looking Fresh All Year

There you have it. We have given you eleven things you can do to maintain your fishing gear this winter. The offseason is a great time to consolidate, organize, and repair your fishing equipment to keep things functional and fresh. If you found this article beneficial, please support us by giving it a share on social media.