1.)   Check your gear for anything that may nick or cut the fly line. Small nicks, scrapes, and grooved guides will cut fly lines or leaders and tippets, and may cost you the fish of a life time. To check for burrs, take a small piece of nylon pantyhose and pull it back and forth through your guides. If it tears or hangs, you have a burr or nick and that guide needs to be replaced. For best results, return your rod to Sage and take advantage of Sage’s great warranty program. Not only will the Sage Repair team replace the damaged guide, they will examine the entire rod and may find something that you missed. By checking your rod this time of year you will find the repair time is less, as opposed to sending it in May when everyone else realizes that their rod needs some work. You should also check the strike plate of your favorite reel to be sure that you have not worn grooves into it over the years of fishing.
2.)   Examine your fly line for cracks or cuts. Most of us end up stepping on our lines at some point in a year of fishing. While a small nick does not affect the way the line cast, an errant step with a cleated wading boot can cut the core of your line enough so that when you come tight on old Leroy Brown your line will break. Replace any lines that have cuts or nicks that reach the core of the line. Also, redo all nail knots and loop knots that are over 1 year old. Then clean your entire line with mild soap and water and then coat with good line dressing like RIO Agent X Line Dressing. You will be amazed at how much this helps the performance of your line.
3.)   Replace your old tippet spools. Most tippet will breakdown in about 6 months after it has been exposed to UV (sun) light. If you are like me and have dropped it in the water, or have possibly fallen in, then your tippet is going to be very weak after its long winters nap. Check the strength on your entire tippet selection and especially its knot strength, as that is where you normally will see signs of weakness first. If your tippet is over a year old, then I am a firm believer in recycling it and purchasing all new tippet.
4.)   Don’t end up with wet legs. Leaky waders make for a long day on the water in the early spring, so thoroughly check your waders. Look for any leaks or dry rot that may have occurred over the winter or since the last time you fished, also look for any signs of delamination in the material. Turn them inside out, get in a closet with them, place a flashlight in them and see if any light shows through. You can also put them on and wade in the neighbors pool late at night – just be sure not to scream like a little girl when cold water leaks in. Regardless of how you find leaks or problems send them into the factory for quality service and repair.
5.)   Don’t let rusty hooks ruin the day. Rusty fly hooks have saved more fish than any catch and release program. Rust and moisture in your fly box is like the flu, it is going to spread to every fly in your box if you don’t isolate it. That rusty hook is a sure indication that the hook will break with a little pressure from the hook set. So go through and remove any flies with rusty hooks, because there is not a worse feeling in the world than missing several fish in a row only to realize that you are fishing a fly without a hook.