Kayaks are king in saltwater flats fishing. You can get into places that even the finest flats boats have trouble accessing. You have no fuel expense and the maintenance on the kayak is far less than any motor powered craft. However, saltwater is not kind to equipment of any type, so unless your gear is properly cleaned up after every trip, it will wear out quickly and be ruined.
The process begins on the water in the way gear is handled. Lures should never be replaced in the tackle box directly after use. They need to be placed in a separate plastic container that is for used baits only. The small amounts of saltwater on the lure can be transferred into your tackle box as baits are changed out and that small amount ruins a box of lures in very short order.
Once you arrive home, the baits in the plastic container need to be cleaned. My own method for taking care of this is to add a squirt of baby shampoo to the container and fill it with tap water. A few shakes, a simple brush off with an old tooth brush to get the crud, a tap water rinse and the lures are finally hung to dry before replacing in the tackle box. The reason for the recommendation of baby shampoo is that it rinses fully in cooler water and it has no other substances in it other than simple soaps. It won’t harm your tackle and it’s inexpensive.
All equipment from the day should be cleaned up as soon as you get home. The boat is easy: some people just spray it off and put it up. I take a few extra minutes with mine and use a soapy water wash down with one of the all-in-one car wash products. My paddles, net, anchor, and other on board gear is done at the same time and allowed to dry before being stored. Stainless rigging such as on my anchor trolley will rust in time with continued saltwater use if I don’t clean it each time.
Rod and reel are ruined if they are not thoroughly cleaned after saltwater use. There are different ideas for this process, but the one I use has kept my gear in working order for years. I have rods and reels pushing 40 years old that are still fine, work great and I owe it to my cleanup methods. I start by clipping the line and removing the leaders. The line is then secured to the spool clips or, in the case of bait casters, to the reel frame. Reels are removed from the rods before cleaning. The rods are wet down and washed off using the car wash cleaner and mesh scrubby. It’s light cleaning not a harsh scrub and will not damage the guides or wraps on the rods. Once rinsed, the rods are put aside to dry.
The reels are washed off using the baby shampoo on a wet wash cloth. The idea is to just wash the reel off, not soak it. Rinsing is done with another wash cloth and tap water. Do not spray off the reel – it forces salty material into the reel and destroys it from the inside. Once the reel is rinsed off it gets a spray of furniture polish. It won’t hurt anything (including the line.) After the spray down of furniture polish it is wiped clean. At this point, lubrication of the parts (like the level wind worm gear on the bait casting reel) can be done before storage.
Photos: Jeff McGovern
Take care of your gear after every trip and it will last for years. Put it up without cleaning and you’ll be the tackle store’s best customer..