Tag Archive: kayak fishing tackle

Saltwater Gear Maintenance

By Jeff McGovern

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.

Cleaning equipment for fishing gear

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.

Washing off saltwater from the deck gear

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.

Hand washing the lures

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.

Cleaning the plug

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.

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..



Copyright (C) Jeff McGovern, 2007-2015

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Cat-A-Yakking – the beginning

By Capn’ Larry Jarboe


Yesterday, I mounted my rod holders. Thanks Wavewalk, for providing the pilot placement starter holes. Since I was obliged to try them out, I took a run up to the discharge canal of the power plant on the Pax River.

The Wavewalk has been offishially stinkified with the scent of four Blue and four Channel Catfish. Now, it is a real fishing machine though the catches will get much better as the weather in the Chesapeake Region warms.

This was also the first day of Striped Bass trophy season but those fish are a couple weeks behind schedule. I did better than almost all the charter boats, numbers wise. And, for a fraction of the price!

I am using a Mother Ship concept which I will post about later.

Also, the 4′ 9″ Ugly Stik is a killer boat/kayak rod for most of our local and invasive species in the Chesapeake watershed. The second generation graphite series is nice but I’m kind of partial to the original fiberglass version. I bought the last one yesterday that the Tackle Box in Lexington Park had squirrelled away in the storage room.

Look for more and bigger fish to come. The season has just begun. And, I have not yet begun to cat-a-yak.

Larry J.

Photo Credit: Catfish Bill Davis


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More is less in your fishing kayak’s cockpit – Too much stuff and too little fishability

Kayak manufacturers seem to be locked in an arms race intended to make their fishing kayaks relevant to the average angler out there. This epic struggle for market survival produces kayak designs that are increasingly dysfunctional, or lack ‘fishability‘ if we use the term that anglers commonly use.
The most obvious manifestation of this trend is the proliferation of those enormous, extra-wide, cumbersome, hard to paddle, heavy and practically impossible to carry or car top kayaks known as ‘barges’.
But it’s not just the size of those beastly yaks that makes one wonder whether they defeat the purpose of kayak fishing, nor the fact that their manufacturers tout them as being suitable for fishing standing (they’re not, unless you’re an aspiring acrobat) – It’s the fact that they’ve become overly accessorized, to a point where it’s increasingly hard for their users to fish from them.

What’s an overly accessorized fishing kayak?

An overly accessorized fishing kayak is a kayak that makes it hard for you to fish from it –
We’ve already talked about kayak rudders, and the fact that they slow down the kayak and impose on the paddler yet another activity (I.E. steering) they’d rather do without.
But one may argue that tracking in one of those heavy and extra-wide kayaks is impossible without a rudder, especially in the presence of wind and/or current, so let’s focus on the cockpit area, sometimes called the ‘deck’ in SOT and hybrid kayak models –
The kayak’s cockpit, or deck, should provide the angler with maximum range of motion and comfort, and in this sense any additional item attached in or on it is potentially counterproductive.
Furthermore, the negative effect of any additional object in such a restricted space is amplified due to the fact that it encroaches on an already diminished space.
This is yet another example of how the fundamental economics law of diminishing returns works: At some point more is less.

The foot brace – don’t put your foot in it

To begin with, the big ‘barge’ kayak’s cockpit features sophisticated foot braces that take too much room away from the user’s feet and legs. Let’s face it – being seated for a long period of time is not a pleasant thing, especially when you’re wet or partially wet and you’re stuck in the notorious L kayaking posture that causes discomfort, leg numbness and back pain. Therefor, being able to move your legs is important, and restricting the space available for your feet and legs to move works to aggravate the problem – Think traveling coach in an airliner, and the magnitude and severity of this ergonomic problem would become clearer to you, especially if you’re neither a small, skinny or young and physically fit person.

The seat of the problem

The kayak’s foot braces are paired with its seat. In the past decade, kayak manufacturers became somehow aware of the huge back pain problem that users experience when paddling and fishing while being seated in the L position, so they stuffed their kayaks’ seats with more foam and more gel, without achieving any noteworthy results: These kayaks kept being uncomfortable for normal people to use, and they kept inducing back pain and leg numbness.
Then came the new trend of higher kayak seats, and seats offering adjustable height. These larger seats are typically made from woven material stretched over a light metal frame, and their shape is reminding of some beach seats or stadium seats.
The basic idea behind this kayak seat design is to allow the user to sit a few inches higher, and by doing so alleviate some of the pressure exerted on their lower back, also known as lumbar spine.
Does this work? -Not really, and the reason has to do with the faulty ergonomic reasoning behind it: The fact that the angler sits higher yet they keep their basic position with their legs stretched in front of them makes more of a challenge for them to balance their kayak, as the boat’s center of gravity goes higher although its user isn’t given better means to stabilize it with their body.
The only thing you can do is try to stretch your legs a little more and increase muscle tension in them. This means you have to make a bigger physical effort, continuously, and therefor exert more horizontal pressure on your back, thus increasing discomfort, fatigue, and eventually pain. Problem unsolved.
The seat’s higher and wider backrest is in the way of the kayaker’s shoulders and upper arms when they paddle and cast lines. It further restricts the little range of motion they have, and further limits their ability to change positions and give their back and neck some respite.
Simply put, the L kayaking position imposed by the unstable mono-hull kayak design is not a problem, it’s a given. This is to say that it does not have a real solution – only false ones. The way to get rid of discomfort and pain when you paddle a kayak or fish from it is to ride the saddle of a stable W kayak.

More stuff that means less room and less fun for you

Another way in which kayak manufacturers manage to restrict their clients’ range of motion and ability to fish comfortably and in a way that makes sense is by sticking a variety of accessories between their legs. These items range from storage hatches to fishfinder consoles, cup holders, bottle holders, elevated rod holders, and so on.
The result is a critical absence of free space for you to handle your tackle, take care of your lines and lures, and catch fish – if and when they happen to land one in the space between your legs, right on top of the fishfinder, rod holder, or cup holder…
This attempt to simulate the design of a jet fighter’s cockpit in which everything is within the pilot’s arm’s reach is dysfunctional to the point of being pathetic, but amazingly, the problem doesn’t end here –

A standing problem

Kayak manufacturers are engaged in a verbal competition, and one of the hottest fronts in this battle is over the notion of kayak fishing standing. Kayak manufacturers have come to realize that in order to get anglers interested in their kayaks they need show that their kayaks are stable.  The best way to do is to show someone fishing standing in the kayak’s cockpit. Whether this scenario is practical for the average middle aged or elderly angler out there, or for anglers who happen to be somehow overweight, or tall, or suffer from balancing issues is a whole different story. The same problem applies to those kayaks’ stability in real-world conditions, such as when the stand-up angler loses balances for some reason, and they’re required to sit down swiftly in order to regain it…
Furthermore, who wants to stand up and fish while constantly having to pay attention to their balance and allocating considerable physical and mental resources to such task?
If you stand in a boat and fish from it, you need to be able to focus on fishing and on nothing else, and you want to enjoy fishing without a little red light blinking in the back of your head warning you to watch out and maintain your precarious balance or you’d go swimming with your tackle…
How is this related to superfluous accessories? – Well, kayak manufacturers devised yet another way to clutter the decks of their fishing kayak models, and they do it all the way by outfitting their top of the line models with lean bars –

Lean at your own risk – the lean bar

What’s a lean bar, or lean frame? It’s a large size, folding metal frame that the angler can erect in the front part of their kayak’s deck. The idea behind this device is that when the angler stands up in their mono-hull (sit-in, SOT or hybrid) kayak they feel unstable (duh!), and they would like to lean on something in order to feel less unstable.
It’s a purely psychological notion, since such bar cannot increase the actual (physical, I.E. real-world) stability that the kayak offers, because what determines that kayak’s stability are its form and size, in other words – its design.
This is to say that a lean bar may offer the angler some (potentially hazardous) illusion of stability in a best case scenario, while significantly reducing the kayak’s fishability by  adding to the already severe clutter in its cockpit.
In fact, such a large-size metal frame stuck in front of the angler is a perfect recipe for a perfect storm when one considers things that constantly move in that space, such as fishing poles, fishing lines, fishhooks, lures and bait, as well as fish – from time to time…

But wait, there’s more!

Yes, unbelievably so, kayak manufacturers found ways to stick even more stuff in front and around anglers who attempt to fish out of such barge kayaks: Among these unproductive objects are live bait tanks and live fish tanks… and even the pedals of a pedal drive that you, the angler can push or rotate with your feet, while attempting to stabilize yourself with one hand and manipulating the rudder with the other. Go figure why these tedious and simultaneous activities are being promoted as ‘hands-free fishing’…

And if you thought that’s where the ridicule stops, a closer look at ads for those humongous and rather dysfunctional fishing kayaks would reveal to you a plethora of additional objects and large-size systems offered to populate your kayak’s already crammed cockpit.
Among these things are sailing rigs that you can try to manipulate while pushing the pedals of the drive offering illusory ‘hands-free’ fishing, and wheel carts to help you drag these super-heavy barges from your vehicle to the water and back, since there is no way this could be done without such a cart.
Some over creative manufacturers offer special horizontal holders to protect your fishing rod tips from low-lying tree limbs…

Keep it simple

Observing the cockpit of one of those barge fishing kayaks can be a stupefying experience. The intense clutter in such a restricted place demands that you, the angler, possess an unlimited amount of good will coupled with impressive acrobatic skills.
But what if you have neither?
The solution is simple: Get a fishing kayak that features a real cockpit offering enough room for you to paddle and fish in full comfort and confidence, as well as enough room for you to store and handle whatever gear you want to have on board, without it becoming a nightmare.
This simple solution is exactly what the W kayak offers you. Simple is good.

Jeff’s Rigged W500 Fishing Kayak – New Review and Movie

Jeff McGovern reviews his rigged W500 fishing kayak:

Hands down the finest fishing kayak I’ve ever used.
That is coming from someone who has used others, plus has them on the rack at the house and makes a serious choice for on the water time. My W500 is like a pickup truck on the water, the kind that has a high performance engine under the hood. It’s tough, sturdy, and made for the angler. Standing to fish is not a balancing act nor is it a stunt to show the stability of the design. It’s a boat where standing is as natural as sitting. Casting distances are far better sitting or standing since the angler can put their whole body into a cast not just flail an arm. With my little fishing rods from Emmrod I’m locked and loaded to catch fish not fool with equipment.
Of course there is a problem, the W500 really has spoiled me. Tough to even consider fishing out of anything else. My friend Yoav Rosen created quite a watercraft in the Wavewalk.
This short movie is my setup as of 12-31-11.


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Kayak Fishing Maiden Voyage In Fast Tidal Currents, By Terry Ehrlich, South Carolina

Terry Ehrlich, editor and publisher of Taxidermy Today Magazine, contributed the following account of his very first voyages in his new W500 kayak:

Terry - kayak angler and photographer, SCI am 67 years old, and I have never owned a kayak before the W500.
Before receiving the kayak, I was advised to take it in shallow, flat water for my maiden voyage, and get some practice. That is GOOD advice! However, I was unable to get to shallow flat water, and my maiden launch took place on St. Helena Sound off Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Pine island, St. Helena Sound, South Carolina

Pine Island

When I launched the water was relatively flat and shallow on the river side of the beach. All went well. It took only a moment or two to get a feel for the degree of stability I could expect. I even found that standing and paddling seemed more comfortable and efficient that riding the saddle and paddling. I felt like I was getting more power in the standing stance, but I did do more paddling and experimenting while riding saddle style.
The W500 tracked very well right from the start, but I found making sharp turns to be challenging.
But then I found myself in fast moving water… The tides on the river side as well as the creeks draining the ACE Basin moved water at an amazing clip while remaining deceptively flat. The sound turns into creeks, and ditches and even smaller drains – – all moving, not just in the channels, but the whole system is inundated with heavily moving water. Even the tiniest of fingers, no wider than a kayak can run 6 MPH and make a total fool of an inexperienced paddler…

Tidal salt marsh, St. Helena Sound, SC

Tidal Current In Slatwater Marsh

The water was constantly moving at up to 6 miles/hr. in and out with practically no slack time at dead low or high tide.
Such flow dynamics can be used to good advantage, but if not understood and respected, it can get you into trouble and drain your energy.

I launched from the beach, and at two launching ramps on the Intracoastal waterway and at Edisto Marina. Even there, I was quickly swept into the fast current, and I found myself bouncing off pilings, trying to get out into clear water. It was an experience indeed! I wished for the still water of a lake or pond, but I had to deal with what I had…

currents in saltwater bay, St. Helena Sound, SC

Tidal Currents And Wind

I did it all – I got stuck on an oyster bank, and stuck in a mud bank with pluff mud that you would sink up to your thighs in. With a bit of shaking, bumping, rocking and cussing, I worked myself out of each situation. But I was struggling with the heavy, fast current. I had the sensation of moving ahead at a good rate of speed, but when I looked up and to the side as I stroked heavily along and saw the spartina grass on the bank not moving, and I realized I was not actually going forward at all, and it discouraged me.
Most of my motivation was to be able to fish from the W500 in the inshore waters of the creeks and marsh drainage ditches, but I found myself fighting the currents at every step of the way.
Now, I found no fault at all with the W500. It performed as it should, but the element we were riding in had its own way with us on that first voyage. I can now really appreciate the power of moving water!

Beach at St. Helena Sound, South Carolina

Beach at St. Helena Sound

Just when I was pretty much satisfied that I had had enough of moving seawater, I was sitting on the deck of the beach house looking out across St. Helena Sound and there arose a dark spot on the water about 50 yards across. I thought at first that it was a shadow from a cloud, but when the middle of it exploded in a sparkling shower of silvery forms and a huge tarpon launched out of the water like a cruise missile, I sat straight up! Fish erupted all through the school of mullet. I grabbed my fishing rod and ran to the beach. Heaving the heaviest lure as far as possible, I could only halve the distance to the feeding frenzy. I stood there trying for fifteen minutes and realized the school was not moving. “Aha!” I just might have time to run back to the house and drag the W500 down to the beach one last time and get in on the action. I grabbed one rod, my life jacket, and one bag of lures… In moments, I was right in the middle of the frenzy: Fish scattering in every direction, fleeing from the huge predators below them. One shower of mullet sent a three-pounder flying right into the W500 and back out just as fast as it entered. The school seemed to find me a convenient hiding spot but the tarpon didn’t mind at all, charging through the masses at will, even bumping the boat as they rocketed by. Birds, dolphins, sharks, tarpon, mullet, glass minnows, jellyfish by the thousands and ME! It was a sight to behold.
I hooked several fish, and lost every one because they were nearly as big as me and my tackle was 10 pound test braid. Who cares, I was in fisherman’s heaven!
So oblivious was I that I hadn’t noticed we all were drifting out of the sound toward the Atlantic… Again, it all seemed flat and smooth, but in 15 minutes we had drifted a full mile from where I started. Concerned, I started stroking rather heavily back toward home base, but I was fighting that strong current again. After another 15 minutes, I realized I was not making enough headway to make it back to my point of origin, so I headed for the first piece of beach I could reach. I figured I would beach the craft and walk back to the house, a mile farther down the beach.
As I approached the beach, the waves tossed me about like a rubber duck in a washing machine. BOY! was I looking out of control . . mostly, because I WAS out of control.
I have gained a new respect for mother nature’s power – Your perspective changes, and you gain a degree of respect for the massive power of moving water, especially when it’s just you, your 28” wide W500, and your paddle.
Did I have a good time? You bet, but I paid for it! The advice I got before it all started was spot on – Start with still waters!
Back at the beach house, I washed the W500 down and it is pretty as ever.

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