If you still have a few bucks around, I’m certain there are deals to be had. If you don’t, there’s no better time to take extra-special care of your gems.
I’ve always been the type to give my rods a quick wipe-down after use; if they’re saltwater jobs, a warm, wet rag works overtime. Waxing the ferrules (tea-light candle wax is fine) after every couple of outings is also part of the repertoire. And my latest discovery was cork cleaning (with emphasis on ‘late’).
I have some rods that I’ve owned for a dozen years, and I’d never cleaned the handles. A friend said it was probably a bad time to start trying, particular since some of the corks were downright black – the suggestion was to start using the cheapo backups/loaners (the ones I’m loathed to cast myself – I call them my “guest handicappers”). But, a little warm water and some Soft Scrub with Bleach did the trick – here are the corks on the rods I’ve gotten wet in the last couple of years, after tidying them up…
The one at the top is the oldest in the quiver. I’ve had all the pure saltwater rods at least seven years, and they’ve all felt heavy use (i.e. lots of sunscreen) albeit prior to my move to Colorado. The second, third and fourth (from the top) have seen the most recent workouts – the second was bought early last season (’07) and the fourth was bought in late September (’08). All the corks now look the same – like I just pulled plastic wrappers off them.
Note: Your fishing buddies might already be getting stingy about sharing the single malt, and they’re going to be hard pressed to loan you their new S4 if your own rods look shabby too. So get scrubbing.