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CAPTAIN'S CORNER

We've all learned that maintaining tackle results in catching more fish. This means more than lubricating reels and checking line guides for nicks. Rod storage is important, not only in the garage, but on the boat.

Today's graphite rods are lightweight, sensitive and great for fighting fish. But they are fragile. They can't take the abuse a fiberglass rod can.

I carry my graphite rods in vertical rod holders. I learned the hard way about laying them in horizontal racks. The chattering of the boat when running through chop bangs the racks along the rod, shattering the graphite and causing the rod to lose strength. I didn't notice a difference until setting a hook on a fish and watching the rod break where it had rested in the rack. I lost the fish, then found out the rod was out of warranty.

Another mistake is allowing a sinker to slap against the side of the rod. Graphite cannot withstand this beating. I solve this problem by wrapping the leader around the reel so the weight rests against the reel seat or the foam fore grip.

Buying good tackle should be a lifetime investment. Graphite rods are excellent for playing and subduing fish, but to last a lifetime they must be cared for properly.

_ Brent Gaskill charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 867-1751.

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