With fishing about to kick into high gear, now’s the time to take care of some routine rod and reel maintenance, and get spooled up with fresh, brand new line for the spring.

But if time gets away from you, or you get invited on an unexpected trip before you can respool,  here’s a great last-minute tip to stretch out your line and remove old curlycues from Chas Champagne, the creator of Matrix Shad and Vortex Shad soft plastic paddle-tail lures.

Especially if you’re jig-fishing, or trying to work a lure on the bottom for speckled trout, Champagne said removing the “memory loops” — especially from older monofilament line — is crucial.

“The straighter and more quality line you have, the better you will be at realizing your lure is on the bottom. If you’re just casting a spinnerbait or throwing topwater, it really doesn’t matter as much,” he said. “But we do so much jig fishing, we have no idea what our lure is doing down there unless we’re watching our line. 

“When you’re needing to watch that bow in your line to dictate strikes, it’s extremely important for that part to be straight.”

The fix is pretty simple to do in the boat on the day of your trip: just remove the lure from the end of your line, open up the spool, pull line out and place it in the water behind the boat.

“When we’re coming out of the pass or idling down the canal, we’re going 5 to 10 mph and that stretches it all the way out,” Champagne said. “I close the spool right toward the end and then just pull it behind the boat where it’s under tension for five to 10 minutes, and it helps a lot.”

Surface tension with the water pulls the line off the spool and stretches the curlycues out, but Champagne said boat speed is key.

“Don’t go too fast, or the line will get on top the water and it won’t really create the tension,” he said. “You only want to go 5 or 10 mph so the line will sink into the water, and then it starts pulling and dragging.”

By taking the lure off, in addition to straightening out the line, it’s also free to untwist, he said.

“A lot of times, especially if you’re fishing with gold spoons, the line will physically twist,” Champagne said. “All of that jigging and jiving and bouncing lures makes it twist and start kinking. So if you don’t take the lure off, you might get it straight, but it won’t take the twists out.”

Nothing beats changing your line regularly — Champagne suggests once per month depending on how often you fish — but this tip will at least allow you a more productive day on the water.

“My biggest suggestion is changing line once a month if you’re serious,” he said. “But if I can’t change it, or don’t have any new line on my boat, I’ll do the stretch-it-out trick and let the line out to get the kinks and spirals and twists and curlycues out.”