We, as fisherman, get a bad rap sometimes for our inability to take care of our toys. Everyone knows that fishing is an expensive hobby, but for some reason, many of us do not perform the regular maintenance needed to keep our kayak fishing gear in good working order. There are a few simple things you can do after each trip to take care of your kayak and kayak fishing gear. These simple steps will make sure your gear is looking good and in good working order when you need it most.
Let’s start with your kayak. I see guys all the time pulling up to the launch with a kayak that’s been sitting outside and is full of leaves and dirt, or with a kayak that is caked in mud from the last trip. Even worse than that, I’ve seen many a kayak that has been sitting out in the direct sunlight and has become faded, cracked, or even warped in the Texas heat. There are a few things that you can do that will keep your kayak looking new and lasting for years and years.
To start, always clean your kayak after each trip. I prefer to take my kayak to the DIY carwash as soon as I leave the water. I leave the kayak on my rack on top of my SUV, and I clean both the kayak and my truck with soapy water and then rinse. This gets all the salt of everything metal and gets the dirt and mud off everything else. Driving on the highway after you wash it will also dry it for you also. If you don’t want to spend the $5 on a car wash, you can just do it at home with a garden hose and some manual labor. I prefer the high pressure hose at the car wash because it’s quicker, but that’s just me.
Once your kayak is clean, you can keep it that way by storing it someplace that is covered and out of direct sunlight. My kayak hangs above my car in my car port at my current place, but before I moved to my current location, I kept my kayak in a 10’x15’ storage unit that cost me about $75 a month. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, that’s a great place to keep it and there are all kinds of wall mounts and lifts that you can use to get it up off the floor and out of the way.
To protect your kayak, regularly apply a UV protection coating to the hull to prevent any damage from the sun’s harmful rays. I recommend 303 Aerospace Kayak Protectant from ACK or KC Magic from Yak Gear. Both are excellent products and work well. Applying a UV protectant once a month will keep your boat looking like new for years to come. (Bonus: KC Magic works great on your reels too!)
Once your boat is clean and put away, it’s time to clean your gear. The important thing there is to get the salt off of anything that can become corroded. Dirt and mud can damage your gear as well, but salt water will slowly corrode your gear until it is completely useless. For most items, a simple rinse will suffice. You will need a few supplies to do this efficiently, most of which can be picked up at your local dollar store for a few dollars. The first two items are plastic scrub brushes. The third is a regular tall kitchen trash can that you will use to dunk your rods in. Let’s start with the brushes. I use two different kinds. The first is a plastic “iron” shaped brush with fairly stiff bristles. The second is a scratch-free scrubber used for non-stick pans.
The larger brush is great for getting mud and dirt off of your kayak, crate, seat, and anything else that you are not worried about scratching. The small brush is great for more sensitive plastic surfaces, like your paddle blades. Use either brush with plenty of water and you should be able to get mud off of most things fairly easily. I like to take all of my gear out, lay it out on the lawn, rinse and scrub each item as needed, and then hang them all on the fence to dry in the sun before putting them away in my shed. I will do this with most items, such as my pfd, seat, crate, anchor, anchor float, drift sock, paddle, push pole, rod holders, etc. Allowing everything to dry before storing it is very important as this will help prevent rust. (Protip: bring the brushes with you on your trips to help remove mud at the launch, before you load up. This will save you from loading up a muddy kayak or putting a muddy push pole in your car)
After my gear is clean, it’s time to clean my tackle and rods. When you go to the dollar store, grab yourself a tall, narrow trash can. A standard or tall kitchen trash will work nicely. You will fill this trash can with water and use it to rinse off your reels, so the trash can needs to be tall enough that you reel will be submerged when the rod butt hits the bottom. If you are using larger offshore reels and rods, you may need a larger trash can.
Fill the can with fresh water, and dunk each rod and reel in it 2-3 times. This will flush out any salt or sand that may have gotten into your reels or around the reel seat. Use the hose to rinse of the rod and guides to prevent any corrosion there as well. When you are done, lay your rod against something vertically to dry. Make sure you loosen the drag on all of your reels to prevent any unneeded stress on the springs and washers.
After your rods are clean, it’s time to clean your tackle. Lay your tackle trays of lures, jig heads, flies, etc out on the lawn, and spray each one with fresh water until the tackle is completely submerged. Fold the latch over the edge of the box to keep it from closing completely, lay the lid on top of it, and hold the box vertically so the water will drain out, leaving the tackle in the box. Shake out as much water as you can. Repeat this process and rinse for a second time. After you have gotten out as much water as you can, place the tackle boxes in the sun to dry before storing.
It is a good idea to practice regular monthly maintenance on all of your reels in accordance with the manufacturer’s suggested process. This may be different for every reel, so if you’re not sure what to do, read the documentation that came with your reel or contact the manufacturer directly. Keeping your reel clean and well lubricated will prevent you from losing a trophy fish when your drag locks up.
The whole process of cleaning my gear takes about 20-30 minutes. This is a worthwhile use of my time when compared with the cost and aggravation caused by replacing all your gear. Put in the time to take care of your gear the right way, and it will last longer and serve you well when you need it most.
Got a question or a gear maintenance tip? Let us know below in the comments!
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