Schmidt Outfitters - The Best in Fly-Fishing
home  Welcome! Please sign in or register here cart Cart items: 0  Total: $0.00

Steelhead Fishing Preparations

by Ray Schmidt
02/22/09 Schmidt Outfitters

Many of you are itching to get out on the stream for chrome-heads, but the weather has not been very forgiving in the last few months. However, there are some steps that you can take right now to prepare for the spring steelhead season which is fast approaching (thank goodness!).


  1. Clean your cork grip with Dawn dish detergent and the 3M Scotch Brite cleaning pad. Why Dawn? It cuts the oil film that comes from your hands and restores the cork grip to looking like new. It also restores the sticky feel that clean cork rod handles have.
  2. Clean and inspect the rod for cracks at the ferrules, chips in the surface, or any wear and tear that you can fix. When you're through cleaning, apply a coat of Pledge furniture wax to the rod blank.
  3. Inspect the guides to make sure they are not rough or bent out of shape. A rough guide will destroy a fly line in a heartbeat. If you have a bad one, send the rod back to the manufacturer for service.
  4. Put a little canning wax on each male side of the ferrule. This helps keep the rod sections together while casting all day.
  5. Clean and polish the reel seat. Some reel seats are made of nickel silver and can be restored to like-new with a silver polish.

Fill the sink with warm soapy Dawn detergent and scrub the fly line with a clean rag to remove dirt, grime, and oils that come from your hands. Rinse the fly line well and apply some 3M/Scientific Anglers fly line dressing. If your fly line has cracks in it, throw it away and buy a new one. Cracks in the surface allow water to seep into the core of the line and makes it sink.


Clean, inspect, and re-lube the spindle with a light application of lubricant. If your fly reel is not performing correctly, send it back to the manufacturer and let the experts deal with problems. We'll be glad to help if necessary.

Toss all leaders from last year unless you have stored them in a cool, dark place. Do the same with your tippet spools. These materials do not last forever and they're the least expensive part of your fishing stuff. Buy new!

Inspect your flies. If rusty hooks appear, toss them because rust weakens the hook itself and also dulls the point.

Did they leak last year? If you can fix the leaks, go for it. Here's what to do if you have breathable waders.

  1. Go to the drug store and buy a jug of isopropyl alcohol and a mist spray bottle. Fill the bottle with the alcohol.
  2. Turn your waders inside-out and spray the fabric one leg and section at a time. Spray on a fairly good amount.
  3. Turn the wader right-side out, and if there is a hole of any size it will show up as a black spot on the exterior of the wader.
  4. Circle the holes with a pencil and continue until you have done the entire wader, then patch with Aqua Seal.

Check the bottom of the soles to make sure they have not separated from the upper part of the boots. Also, look for cracks in the boot material itself. If the boots are felt-soled, make sure you have plenty of felt for the upcoming season. Buy a new pair of boots if they are looking bad. Buying new these days means you need to look at the new sticky rubber sole bottoms. The new sticky rubber does not transfer micro-organisms and invasive species from one river to another like felt-sole boots do. Buy the new bottoms and do your part to protect our fisheries!

Check your line nippers, forceps, fly floatant, and all your gizmos and replace as needed (a relative word).