It is the dead of winter here in Montana and the current weather is showing few signs of warming up. That being said, getting out on the river and chasing around a few fish is a great cure for the cabin fever. My biggest issue in winter fishing over the years has been freezing guides. After trying a lot of different suggestions, I have settled on 5 that I prefer.
This is my favorite option for minimizing ice build up on cold days. My favorites to use are the tins of either Burt's Bees or Dermatone and the squeezable tube of Carmex. I have used the small tubes of Beyond Coastal to touch up on the stream as well. The key to this method is applying the chapstick to dry guides. If you need to reapply, dry the guides off as much as possible.
2. Stanley's Ice Off Paste:
Ice Off Paste is the only option made specifically for this problem. Its a Loon product and works well. Apply the ice off paste the same way you would chapstick and watch it work. Ice off paste comes in a small circular tin as well.
Pam (or any cooking spray) is nice because it is cheap, easy to find, and one can will last a long time. This seems to be a favorite of many Midwest steelheaders. The one concern with Pam is that things get really greasy really quickly. It is definitely worth giving you rod, reel, and line a good whipe down at the end of the day.
Vaseline is a great option as well. Again, it is easy to find, cheap, and one can will last a long time. This method came from a few Great Lakes surfers who rub vaseline on their face in the winters to keep themselves from freezing. People are at times concerned about the affects vaseline will have on a fly line. I haven't had any issues, but a good whipe down at the end of the day is never a bad idea.
Rain-X is a hydrophobic option for trying to keep water out of your guides. As you cast, the guides will shed water like crazy leaving nothing to freeze. This option may not work quite as well on extremely cold fishing days (under 10 degrees), but is a good option none the less. This is the most time consuming option though. Apply the Rain-X using a dry cloth to the dry guides, let it set for a while, and then whipe it off using a dry cloth. This option can work for longer time periods then the other options.
Although all these options help, there is no perfect method. Ice build up happens. When it does, try to refrain from pinching the ice out of the guides using your fingers. I have broken many guides doing this. I usually either dip the rod in the water to allow the ice to melt (works awesome on tail waters and spring creeks) or I hold the ice in my fingers and let my hand heat melt it slightly before sliding it out of the guide. I am sure there are many options out there that work, if you have one please let us know!
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