When you head out for a fishing trip in coastal North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia, it’s not uncommon to be doused in saltwater. We have all had the salt-covered sunglasses and taste on our lips from being splashed repeatedly by the salty brine. Our fishing gear is equally coated in the salt mixture that is corrosive and damaging to the equipment we rely on every time we are on the water. Many forget to take proper care after a day on the water and learn a hard lesson that reels have become seized and hooks rusted. What is the best way to rinse and stow gear after use?

Let’s face it; fishing can require a great deal of preparation, focus, and clean up time and even more so when you’re out on a personally owned boat. After a day spent on the water, the main focus is cleaning up the vessel. While yes, the boat needs to be free of salt before heading home for the day, the gear is often overlooked.  Here are some great tips for rinsing saltwater from your equipment.

What can happen if fishing equipment is not rinsed?

  1. Corrosion is the biggest monster. The internal components of a reel are delicate. Rinse the reel well to avoid salt from lingering when stored. 
  2. Many have exposed a hook to saltwater and realized how quickly it turns to the infamous copper color we know as rust so well.
  3. Just because a rod is coated in a nice hard clear finish, don’t think it is not susceptible to salt. 
  4. One of the biggest that is most commonly forgotten is the tackle bag. The zippers can rot away even before you have had the bag for a year. 

Often forgotten is the gear you’re switching out through the day. For an offshore troller, multiple lures may be used. Don’t just throw them back in the storage box, or it will contaminate everything else around it. Remember to remove the salt on lures that were used replaced through a day. 

How do you properly rinse fishing equipment?

  1. Most important is they don’t need power washing. A firm spray of the reel can cause water intrusion into the inner workings, not ideal. 
  2. It is often assumed that salt will only layer the top of anything it touches. This is incorrect. Rinse all sides of the equipment and run your hands down the rod to ensure all of the contaminants are removed. 
  3. Consider when you cast and how much line is buried beneath the top and was in the salty sea. Take the hose and apply water directly to the line and flush it out well. 
  4. Hang all of the lures and hooks in a well-ventilated area and spray them thoroughly. 
  5. Lightly douse the equipment bag if you’re using one and focus on the zippers and other metal parts.

A pivotal step to preserving gear is accomplished. The task is not complete. Storing wet gear can lead to other issues that are also harmful to expensive tackle and equipment.

What is the best way to stow gear after it has been cleaned?

Much like being frequently exposed to water, storing equipment in areas that are damn for a prolonged period can cause the equivalent amount of damage.

  1. Allow everything to dry as quickly as possible such as in areas with good airflow or bright sunshine. 
  2. Inspect for any damage or squeaking that may require lubrication.
  3. Space can be limited. If possible, store the gear in a cool, dry place.
  4. Ceiling mounts are great for hanging rods and reels. A rod holder on the ceiling also prevents breakage from accidental steps when stored near pathways. 
  5. Most hold all rods, reels, and tackle in the garage. Be aware that theft is common; keep it all out of sight.

The cost of quality fishing equipment is exceptionally high. Protect the investment that you have made because it’s all built to last when properly cared for. The extra effort at the end of the day won’t leave you stranded the next time you’re on the water, and a reel becomes seized up. If you don’t take the time, you will find yourself shelling out unnecessary dollars. Catch them up trip after trip!