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Jan 9, 2018 10:50 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Freeze Means Time For Winter Chores

Jan 9, 2018 10:50 AM

The freeze-out continues for most of us waterfowlers who don’t have access to a field pit, so while we hope and pray this little thaw breaks up the ice a bit, there’s time to turn attention to winter tackle maintenance.For me, that meant dropping off a box full of Shimanos to a local guru for a little TLC after a busy striper and albie season that gave slipping gears and degrading grease little time off.

Long gone are the days when I could take apart my lineup of Penn Z-series reels and stuff them full of marine grease myself, replace drag washers and a worn cog or two, picked up at any local tackle shop, and put the whole thing back together nearly as good as new. Reels these days are far higher functioning than those old battlewagons, but therefore are also a lot more complicated and time consuming to take apart, service and reassemble. There are some real technically-minded guys who do it themselves but I’ve found it’s just better to take precision reels to an experienced tech.

Perhaps most frustrating in reel-maintenance world, is that the major manufacturers make almost no effort to keep their reels in service for years and years, like in the old days. Unlike the old Penns, which were essentially unchanged for decades, Shimano and the other top reel makers now create a new model of almost all of their reel lines every year and instantly stop manufacturing the parts for the previous models. After two years, Shimano stops even keeping the spare parts on hand, so it can make no repairs to the older models. They sell their spare parts to a handful of shops that dole them out when others come looking but for those with limited access to knowledgeable and connected repair guys, a reel that might have cost $1,000 or more could be rendered useless after just two seasons of use.

That is straight-up shameful. But it’s also good business that market forces do not appear to be discouraging. We live in a world of disposable goods and ego-driven consumption and when something breaks or gets old many fishermen would rather just toss it in a drawer and buy a new reel anyway, so the guy on the boat next to them can tell they have the latest and greatest model.

The upside to the life-span of pricey precision reels like Shimanos is that they are, in fact, very well constructed. Stainless steel and machined aluminum components are pretty hardy and while some parts will break on occasion under extremely brutal use, for the most part a quality reel nowadays can last a long time if properly cared for. I still have three of the four Sustain 5000FBs, just the second model of those reels made, that a friend originally bought well over a decade ago. The fourth, which suffered a bent main shaft about four years ago, has been cannibalized for parts so that its brethren may keep fighting. All three spent a lot of time being jerked around by large pencil poppers this summer and had their drags put through strenuous paces by big striped bass and are now getting a well-deserved C&G.

There are plenty of good resources for getting your reels a little rejuvenating spa treatment in our area. The reel repair guys at White Water Outfitters, East End B&T, Tightlines and Haskells are all sharp, and freelancer Bert Ruscitto (631-603-6328) is a master technician as well.

A little attention to how you carry and store your reels (careful about rod holders that let the reel swing freely and bang into the console or gunwales of a boat, and a gentle dousing with a nozzle-less hose after each use) and a basic clean and re-grease job at least every two years will keep most of your reels in smooth operating shape season after season.

If you are somewhere warm, catch ’em up. See you out there, eventually.


What has become one of the top surfcasting plug-maker gatherings of the winter expo tour will take place this weekend at Hofstra University. Striper Day, hosted by Surfcasters Journal, will open its doors at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday with a lineup of the industry’s best carvers and molders on hand to sell their goods at normal prices, not the gouged ridiculousness that goes on online afterward.

In an ingenious move to keep the crowds of plug hounds from queuing out the door overnight, the SJ guys will again this year give out gift bags with a plug and other goodies to those who don’t show up until after 11 a.m.

The show is being held at the Hofstra University, Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center, at 100 Hofstra University in Hempstead. Admission is $15 for adults, free for kids 12 and under.

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