Tackle Frequently Asked Questions

Tackle FAQ's
Q1. How do I find Clothing FAQs?

A. Click here.

Q2. How do I locate the AFTCO dealer nearest to me?

A. Click here for our dealer locator.

Q3. How do I buy AFTCO Fishing Tackle & Hardware?

A. AFTCO fishing hardware is sold only through authorized tackle retailers. To locate an AFTCO dealer please use our dealer locator to find a retail partner near you. Our dealer locator page also has a list of online retail partners.

Q4. What do I do if I have a problem or malfunction with my AFTCO hardware?

A. Call AFTCO at 1-877-489-4278 or email greg@aftco.com

Q5. How do I contact AFTCO?

A. You can contact Customer Care by calling toll free at 1-877-489-4278 or by clicking on the chat window during regular business hours of 6:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PT Monday to Friday. You'll find the rest of our contact information on our Contact Us page.

Guides and Tops
Q6. How do I maintain my roller guides?

A. To keep your rollers turning freely, always flush the entire guide (and tip-top) with fresh water each time you return to the dock. This will wash away the saltwater residue that can buildup between the roller and frame, and is all the short-term maintenance required to assure that your roller guides will perform perfectly.

Do not attempt to lubricate AFTCO roller guides with spray lubricants, as these chemical solvents will actually gum up the rollers and ultimately hinder their performance. Instead, we recommend a waterproof grease - such as Penn's® Blue International Lube - to be applied sparingly to the outsides of the bearings.

AFTCO recommends that every year or two your roller guides and tops should be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated. After removing the pins and screws (using a #2 standard screwdriver on each side of the guide or top), all parts, including the inside of the frame, should be wiped clean with paper towels using a mild solvent or thinner. Then, lubricate the outside of the bearing (black) with a small amount of waterproof grease (not oil) before pushing it back into the roller. Finally, center the pins and screws and thoroughly tighten with the screwdriver. Any roller that only rolls when screws are loose should be checked for damage or epoxy rod finish buildup inside the guide frame.

Q7. How do I clean corrosion or rust from lack of maintenance off the guide or top frames?

A. Most surface corrosion or salt buildup can be cleaned from the guide or top frames using soap and water and gently polishing with a dry terry cloth towel. Some heavier corrosion can be cleaned using chrome polish or Colonite's metal polish. If the rust or corrosion has completely penetrated the multiple layers of chrome plating, the guides may need to be replaced.

Q8. Where can I get replacement parts for my AFTCO guides or tops, and are there specific sizes for each?

A. Replacement rollers, pins, bearings and screws are available for all AFTCO guides and tops, regardless of their age or condition. Most of the larger authorized AFTCO dealers, found in the dealer section of the website, can supply replacement assemblies if they know the part numbers. All of the assemblies associated with AFTCO guides and tops can be found in the catalog after each guide or top listing. You will need to give your dealer the specific part number based on the size stamped right on the guide or top. Example: tops stamped "18" would take TROLLERA3, per the listing in the catalog, and guides stamped "31", "41" or "51" would take GROLLERA1. Guides or tops with gold roller assemblies require code "GLD" after the part number.

In most cases dealers will only sell complete assemblies, but if you lose a screw it's probably time to replace the entire assembly anyway.

Q9. Can I use spectra or other super-braid lines with my AFTCO guides and tops?

A. Yes, we modified all the top rollers years ago to easily accept any of the small diameter super-braids. Even our older top rollers handle braid perfectly, but we made a slight change in the roller configuration to accommodate the lightest braids practical for use on any given AFTCO roller top.

Q10. Why does AFTCO offer L tops? Do I need a large "L"-head top on my rods?

A. AFTCO makes L tops in several of the standard top sizes to give the angler additional knot clearance on a given size of top. For example, we offer the 110-116 tops in "L" versions as the "L" head allows for around .015" extra clearance for larger lines or knots. Most heavy stand-up tuna rods using Heavy Duty guides are equipped with "L" tops such as RTOPL112, RTOPL114, etc.

All rods equipped with Big Foot and Wind-On guides should only use the 300 series tops, which all have .25" knot clearance which is the same as the guides. This will allow even the heaviest leaders and double lines to easily pass through the guides and tops on these rods.

Tops for all AFTCO-guided rods should always be selected first by tube size (64ths of an inch), and secondarily for the size of line which will be used. For example, on a stand-up tuna rod rated 30-80lb line with a 12/64ths" top, if the rod will only be used for 50lb line, then the RTOP112 (standard head) would be the best choice. But, if the same rod were only going to be fished with 80lb line, then the RTOPL112 (large head) would be the best choice for extra knot clearance.

Q11. Can I use wire line on my AFTCO guides and tops?

A. Yes, wire lines for deep trolling can be used on AFTCO guides, but a swivel top should be used to keep the wire on the top roller at all times. All wire lines are abrasive and will eventually damage AFTCO guides and rollers. Swivel tops help eliminate most of the damage to tops, but if wire line is going to be used most of the time, roller assemblies may need to be replaced every few years from wire line damage.

Q12. What size of line can I use on AFTCO Lightweight Roller Guides, and how do I know what sizes to buy?

A. AFTCO lightweight rollers are designed to handle standard monofilament lines up to 30lb test, but they will easily handle most braided lines up to 80lb test due to the smaller line diameters. The real limiting factor on the LW guides is the knot clearance, which is only designed to handle double lines up to 30lb test. Heavier shock leaders up to 200lb test can be used on the LW guides as long as they are "wind-on-style" connections.

Lightweight Roller Guides require very little maintenance due to their composite frames and pure titanium rollers and guards. A simple rinse with freshwater to remove salt build-up is all they'll ever need.

AFTCO lightweight rollers also work great with the new braided "super-lines" because the roller turns with the line, eliminating running friction. Due to their relatively small diameter, braided lines up to 80lb test may be used with the lightweight rollers in situations where fish smaller than the line test are being caught, or when targeting bottom fish, halibut, and other slow-moving species.

All of the LW rollers are designed to fit a certain range of blank diameters. This needs to be considered when selecting rollers for a custom built rod. The LWGUIDE6, 5 and 4 will all fit just about any diameter of blank. The LWGUIDE3 will fit blank diameters from .170-.210", the LWGUIDE2.5 .140-.170", the LWGUIDE2 .100-.140" and the LWGUIDE1 .075-.100". The LW tops are also sized by 64ths", just like the larger tops. In most cases the LWGUIDE1 and the associated SLW tops are only used on the lightest freshwater rods.

Q13. Can I buy spare parts for swivel tops?

A. Yes, they are listed in the catalog just under the 2 sections containing the standard and large swivel tops on page 9 of the catalog.

Q14. What are Ring Roller Tops and guides, and what are they used for?

A. AFTCO Ring Roller Guides and tops are standard tops and regular guides with a 5/8" diameter ring silver-soldered to the frame above the rollers. This ring allows large knot and swivel connections to be cast through the guides without a hangup. They are primarily used on striped marlin casting and pitching rods. They are available in chrome finish only.

Unibutts and Storabutts
Q15. How do I know what size my AFTCO Unibutt or Storabutt is and are they interchangeable within a given size?

A. Unibutts and Storabutts come in 4 basic sizes. The easiest way to check the size is to measure the diameter of the butt at the reel seat, either over the threads or in the area where the reel fits. Here are the outside diameters at the reel seats- #1 = .838", #2 = .970", #4 = 1.133", #6 = 1.336".

All of the parts regardless of age or color are interchangeable within their own size. Unibutts are available in black or silver bodies with any combination of hood and nut color; black, gold or silver. They are not available in other body colors due to the anodizing not being colorfast.

Q16. What do I do if I have a problem with a Unibutt or Storabutt, and can they be repaired?

A. If there is a problem such as a turned gimbal, hood or pin plug we may be able to fix the part. It will have to be returned postage paid to AFTCO with a note describing the problem and a return address.

Q17. How do I tighten down the reel seat nuts on my Storabutt, Unibutt or reel seat to keep the reel from coming loose during the fight?

A. The reel should be placed in the hood slots and the 2 nuts tightened by hand. Once the reel is fairly snug it should be checked for alignment with the guides on the rod and if needed, adjusted accordingly. The nuts can then be tightened firmly by hand or with a fabric strap wrench, but never with metal water pump pliers or channelLocks. Once the nuts are tightened, the butt of the rod should be tapped firmly on a carpeted floor or wood dock, and the nuts should be retightened. The reel clamp should then be put on the reel, the alignment should be checked a final time, and then the clamp nuts can be tightened.

Gaffs
Q18. What should I do if I straighten out or bend a gaff hook or handle on my AFTCO fixed-head gaff?

A. Carefully rebend the hook back into shape using a cleat or a bench vise, or take it to a machine shop or muffler repair and have them rebend the hook. The hook material we use is all 316L or Project 70 stainless steel. These are the best alloys available for marine application, which won't rust and have a high yield strength (resistance to bending). If a fish opens up the gaff, then either the hook is too small for the fish being gaffed, or the gaff was not used properly. The stainless we use is a cold-working alloy, which means it will actually get stronger each time it is rebent.
The gaff handles are all thick-walled, swaged 6061 T6 aluminum. Again, this is the best alloy available and should not bend when used properly. If a handle is bent, it can be carefully rebent in a bench vise with soft jaws.

Q19. How should I rig my flying gaff?

A. AFTCO Flying Gaffs should be rigged with soft, 5/8" diameter, 3-strand nylon rope spliced directly to the hook eye. IGFA allows a maximum combined length of 25 feet of total rope and hook, but for most boats, the rope should only be as long as the farthest distance a crew member can reach with the gaff from its point of attachment to the boat. Flying gaff hooks should be tied in to the stainless attaching post on the aluminum handle using a single turn of 20 or 30lb line. The nylon rope should be stretched tight and passed around the end of the handle, through the gimbal, and back up past the second handle grip, where it can be secured with a couple of wraps of 1" masking tape. The rope should be gripped to the handles by the gaffer, and released as soon as the gaff hook is planted into the fish and breaks loose from the handle.

Fighting Belts and Harness
Q20. How do I adjust my fighting belt and harness?

A. AFTCO's belt and harness fish fighting system should always be pre-adjusted to fit the angler before the battle begins. The harness should be worn at the belt line, with the lower strap firmly under the angler's seat. The fighting belt should be suspended from the harness using drop straps, with the belt pad positioned comfortably across the thighs. Finally, the harness lug straps should be adjusted so the reel is very close to the belly for maximum leverage in fighting big fish.