Winter can be a grueling season for anglers, especially those who target bass and really have nothing to do this time of year. It doesn’t have to be a seemingly endless bout of cabin fever, though. Anglers can utilize the quite time to organize their tackle, clean their reels, and replace old gear with new purchases. They can also take the time to give their fishing rods the once over to make sure they’re in fighting shape for the spring, and here’s how.

Guides are a crucial part of a fishing rod’s performance, so taking the time to inspect them for abrasions or nicks is smart. You can do this by pulling a piece of nylon hose through each one. If at any point, the hose gets caught, it could mean there’s a fault in the guide that will require repair or replacement. Replacing one guide on an expensive rod is easy and absolutely worth it, and you can find guides at any outdoor retailer. Also, while you’re in the area, take a good look at the guide wraps and check for any signs of wear. Replace the wrapping if necessary.

As far as rod blanks go, I suggest running your finger along the length to feel for any dents that may signal damage that may lead to a broken rod. This is a bummer, but it’s better to know early and replace the rod rather than have it break under the strain of a big fish.

If any of your fishing rods are two-piece models, you can do yourself a huge favor and rub a layer of paraffin on the ferrule (where the two pieces come together). This will ensure a more secure connection while also making it easier to take the pieces apart when needed.

The grips of your fishing rods can get quite dirty. Cork grips will need to be gently rinsed with warm water and soap, but if the dirt or fish slime just won’t come out, gently rub the grip with steel wool. EVA foam grips will need to be wiped with a soapy towel and rinsed in cold water. Another common area where grime can build up is the reel seat, especially in saltwater regions. When this goes unnoticed, it can hinder the reel’s ability to sit properly in the seat. This can be fixed by rubbing it with a soapy sponge, rinsing with cool water, and drying with a towel.

Lastly, the way you store your rod during the off-season is important. Keep the rods in a horizontal or vertical rack rather than leaning against a wall or stacking them in a corner where they might bend. This can cause unnatural action in the rod, especially if they’re forced to bend against their spine.

Well, now you bored bass anglers have a new activity to take up a bit of your free time this winter. I need to make some time to inspect my own fishing rods this winter, as well, so I’ll be right there with you. Nobody wants to hit the water for the first time in the spring and have their gear fail on them, so take some time to inspect your fishing rods this winter.