Gearing Up for Summer – Gamefish & Marlin

I am a total fanatic with preparing my tackle for summer, everything must be perfect. I pay attention to every little detail and this takes time and so I already start my summer preparations in winter.

I run 3 sets of rigs 30lb, 50lb and 80lb line class each consisting of 7 rods and reels and so I start with servicing these.

GUFS Reel Ready

I always start with 1 line class and complete it, reels first, then rods and finally the line.

GUFS Winch connection


  • Reels are removed from the rods.
  • Each reel is opened and completely re-greased all bearings are inspected and if there are any bearings that are even in the slightest way suspect I replace them.
  • I must add that even when I buy a brand new reel, I open it, remove the seals from the bearings and grease them up properly. Removing the seals prevents water stagnating inside the bearing as it can run out.
  • I also completely strip the crank handles, clean and re-grease them thoroughly, I find that often I need to do this again mid season as I am on the water so many hours in the summer and the crank handles tend to silt up quickly.
  • Ratchets are of utmost important as for some reason these really like to silt up and so they need to be greased properly and kept clean.
  • The feet of the that go into the winch on the rod must also be cleaned and greased before they go back onto the rod as this is an area where corrosion takes place unseen.
  • Rod winches are also cleaned up properly including the threads which I clean out using a nail brush and once clean I apply a thin layer of grease.
  • My 30lb rigs have eyes and these are all thoroughly checked and replaced if needed.
  • My 50lb and 80lb rigs all have roller guides and I open each on up clean, re-grease and replace any bearings, which is often needed.
  • Again on my roller guides when I buy the rod new, I remove the seals from the bearings and grease up properly before I even use the rod.
  • Roller guides take hard punishment with salt spray when out trolling and so need to be checked after every trip.
  • I don’t like to use any of those salt removing chemicals as I find they do more damage than good, particularly that they tend to dry up grease which in turn causes bearing failure.
  • After each trip my rods and reels are washed with sunlight dish washing liquid in warm water and then sprayed with WD40 which is silicon free. DO NOT USE any spray oil that has silicon in it as the silicon leaves a thin coating which dries up and will affect all moving parts and bearings. When washing the reels I always use a nail brush to clean any silt from the crank handles and ratchets.
  • It is important to keep you reels in tip top condition as you do not want failure on that day you hook the big one.
  • Never pack rods and reels directly into their bags, let them drip dry first or they will get internal condensation which will cause corrosion.
  • When washing your reels always keep the drag up tight until they have drip dried properly and then pack them away with the drag just slightly engaged. Keeping the drag tight will prevent water getting into the and just engaging the drag when packing them away will prevent the dag washers getting distorted and prevent any dust from settling in there.
  • I remove the top shot from all my reels and replace this. Suffix IGFA Big Game is perfect for the job and will last the whole season unless you hook into a really big fish.
  • GUFS Top Shot to Braid
  • I always replace my top shot and reset my drags after a really big fish.
  • Finally once reels are assembled back onto the rods, I set the preset drags on each reel according to the line class 5kg for 15kg (30lb) line, 8kg for 24kg (50lb) line and 12kg for 37kg (80lb) line.
  • One should be checking the drag presets before each trip with a digital scale.
  • GUFS Drag Preset


This has worked for me for 1000s of hours on the water over many years and I can honestly say that I have never lost a fish due to tackle failure. For me this usually takes 2 months over the winter in my spare time as I have 21 rigs to prepare and I like everything to be ready and in place by 1st September each year.

Once my rigs are ready I go about checking hooks, rings, leaders etc. on all my Konas and Rapalas and replace where necessary and sharpen everything.

On sharpening of hooks, I give every lure a check and sharpen before deploying them in the water, and always after a fish. Sharp hooks set better.

Written by Mike Laubscher