Now is the time of year to check all of your gear for the upcoming season, because nobody likes trying to run to the shop/store for last minute items and fixes.... especially when the fish are in and the bite is hot.
I am going to go over some things I like to do before it's "too late." No particular order however.
Waders - Time to check them for leaks and make any necessary repairs. Check them like a tire. With the help from my dad, we use a shop vac and blow air into waders that are turned inside out. Spray an extra soapy solution on the seams or any problem areas and look for small bubbles. Make note of the area and dry the waders. Apply your choice of glue with a plastic knife or a pospicle stick to spread it evenly. For larger tears or punctures, follow the manufacturers instructions.
Wading Boots and Cleats - Make sure they are in good shape and if some mending is required, head to a local shoe and boot repair store for a fairly cheap fix. Make sure the studs/cleats are not rounded or smooth and replace as necessary.
Breathable Rain Jacket - Check for any tears or rips and repair as necessary. I like to clean my jacket by hand with a mild, un-scented dishwashing soap and let it air dry after rinsing. I am not a big fan of using aftermarket sprays for waterproofing. They work, but not long enough in my opinion.
Fishing Bag, Vest, or Sling Pack - I like to empty everything out of my fishing bag to see what I need to replace and also vacuum out any loose items that always seem to collect in the bottom. Again, check all seams and zippers etc. to make sure everything is in working order.
Gloves and Hats - Usually not a problem, but sometimes a quick fix can be made with a sewing kit.
Wading Staff - Make sure it is not bent too bad and will hold up to another season of punishment.
Net - Check for any holes and repair as necessary.
Glasses - Check the frame and lenses for any cracks. Make sure the screw in the hinges are tight as well.
Rods - Look over your rods carefully. Check the blank and ferrules for nicks or any signs of failure that could happen later down the road. Inspect the rod wraps for any cracking and make sure the guides are in line and in good shape. Run a cotton swab through your guides to check for burrs that may damage your fly line. Make sure the reel seat is functioning properly and clean out the threads if they are dirty. Now is a good time to clean the cork grip as well. Soapy water, a wrag, and some elbow grease should do the trick.
Reels - Take all the line and backing off and check everything possible. Make sure working parts are moving properly and are lubed with the appropriate substance. Since there are various types of drag systems, follow your owners manual accordingly or take it in to the shop and have a professional look it over. Run a cotton swab over the line guard and any parts the line may come into contact with and check for burrs that could damage your line.
Backing - I like to change my backing every two years. When I don't change it, I make sure to re-tie my "backing to fly line" knot. Usually an albright knot coated with aquaseal or pliobond.
Fly Line - Hopefully you've taken care of it and cleaned it a few times during the last season. If not now is the time for a good cleaning. Check the welded loops at both ends to make sure they are not cracking. If the lines don't have welded loops verify the loop system is intact and repair or replace as necessary. Lately I have been going with braided loops nail knotted to the line and covered with aquaseal or pliobond.
Tippets, Leaders, and Sinktips - Pull some tippet out of your spools from last year and pull hard on it. If it breaks, trash it, and replace. If it holds you should be good to go. I like to replace any and all leaders regardless if they are good or not. Check your sinktips for any damage and make sure the loops at both ends are in good shape. Now is a good time to make sure they are labelled properly in your wallet so no time is wasted on stream.
Flies - Clean out your fly boxes and don't keep any flies that are severely rusted. Check them all for sharpness and crush the barbs as necessary. Make note of any flies that will need to be replaced. Now is a good time to re-organize your flies so they can be easily found while on stream. Make sure the stinger line on your stinger flies is in good shape too. Check your supply of tube fly hooks as well.
Other Goodies - Check your supply of split shot, line indicators, back up braided loops. I like to keep a tube of loon uv glue in my bag for onstream fixes. I also keep a small knife with me in case my feet get tangled in old line in the river or on the trail. Make sure it is sharp, it will come in handy. A set of strong pliers is always good to have. I like to have a small towel in my bag for wet hands after landing fish. Gotta have TP....travel baby whipes are perfect! Make sure you have your license as well!!