Outdoor Life Online Editor

Sometimes bad things happen to good fishermen. You make a long cast with a shock leader, say, and the knot catches, pulling the ceramic ring out of the tiptop of the rod. Now what? You’ve got to reel in the lure, cut the line to remove the ring (being careful not to drop it in the water) and use your fishing pliers to gently squeeze the ring back into the frame on the tiptop. Not fun. If you’re prepared, however, minor incidents like this won’t ruin your day on the water.

Being able to cope with mishaps in the field begins with a repair kit. It can be minimal or elaborate, depending on your needs. Use a small lure box or a simple bag, like a zippered pencil case, to hold the contents. Include a variety of items, from a few spare guides to a stub of candle wax (for loose ferrules). More elaborate kits should include equipment for difficult repairs, such as parallel-jaw pliers and a spool of thread and bobbin, which can be used to rewrap a guide. Think of other times when you’ve had problems and add the appropriate repair items or tools to your kit.

Damaged Guide
If a guide breaks, remove it by cutting off the wire frame. If you have a spare guide, tape it to the same spot as the old one. Even if it’s not the exact size, a new guide will allow you to keep fishing. Lacking a spare, you can make one from a safety pin. Cut off the safety catch and bend the legs about halfway up in opposite directions. Tape the pin to the rod and run the line through the ring at the spring end of the pin. You can fish without a guide, but be careful when fighting a fish, since the stress on the rod will be different.

[pagebreak]Loose Reel Seats
A loose movable hood can cause reels to fall off. Prevent this by securing the hood with tape or a rubber band. If the reel seat has double-locking nuts or collets, add an O-ring between the two nuts to lock one against the other.

[pagebreak]Broken Tips
With a broken tiptop, file the remaining rod section down to the first guide. Remove loose tiptops by melting the binding cement with a lighter. To attach a new one, smear heat-set or ferrule cement on the rod end and hold the tiptop in place.

[pagebreak]Popped Rings
The ceramic ring inside the tiptop can pop out, and fishing without the ring can damage lines. For this simple repair, squeeze the ceramic ring back into the shock ring of the tiptop using fishing pliers (preferably with parallel-action jaws).

[pagebreak]Broken Hooks
To replace broken hooks, use a pair of split ring pliers. Use the tooth on the split ring pliers to open the ring and to remove the old hook while adding a new spare at the same time.

Stiff Reels
Reels that do not work well usually need some grease or oil. Use oil on handles, bail rollers and such and grease on a worm drive of a casting reel. Don’t dismantle the reel in the field! Carry small tubes of oil and grease that come with each reel. While cleaning the reel check for rough line. Check line frequently, especially when fishing for toothy critters or when fishing around rough snags. Do this by running the line over your tongue, which is far more sensitive than your fingers. Cut off any rough line back to where the line is smooth, retie your lure and keep fishing.

Bent hooks
Gold plated jig hooks and some trebles are susceptible to bending. Use fishing pliers to bend the hook back to original shape, taking care to not damage the barb.

Lures not running straight
Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits can get out of line and not run true. If a crankbait leans or runs to the right, hoold the lure facing you and use pliers to very slightly bend the line tie to the left. Reverse if the lure runs to the left. Check misaligned spinnerbaits and buzzbaits by straightening the wires. Realize that with buzzbaits, you can bend the top wire out of line with the bottom wire to make them run to one side to follow a specific angled course.