After Season Care: The Fishing Kayak Maintenance Tutorial

Kayaking, for many, is a great pastime. They love using this vessel on the weekends when going fishing or for recreational purposes. However, due to being constantly used in the water, these vessels often undergo intense wear and tear, which can be costly to repair.

Once the kayaking season is over, there are many different ways that you can take care of your kayaks to ensure its longevity. You need to regularly clean it and protect it from UV rays by UV spraying. You also need to continue to care for it even during the season. Moreover, you must understand the proper way of storing it to ensure that it is exposed to no damage.

Let’s go over how you should maintain your kayaks and the proper way of storing them.

After-season Maintenance: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a kayak owner and love kayaking, you will most probably spend most of your time on the water. Whether you’re fishing or using a recreational kayak, you are most likely to get a few bumps and scratch here and there occasionally. While these bumps and scratches won’t affect your kayak’s performance, there are other factors that will. You might not be aware that both the water and the sun have adverse effects on the longevity of these kayaks.

As a kayak angler, you must be aware of the first and foremost rule that is to not to ever drag your kayak over any rough surface, don’t drop it, or expose it to things or situations that might result in scratches, dents, or severe damage to your kayak.

In order to ensure the longevity and performance of your kayak, it is important that you maintain it. Here are some essential steps that you must follow in order to take care of your kayaks.

Drain the Hull

Everyone knows that it is important for you to drain the hull, yet this step is often overlooked. Therefore, make sure to check the hull and see that there is no standing water in it. Remove the drain cap and check it as this standing water can actually turn into ice if you leave the hull unchecked for a long time. In turn, this can cause severe damage to it. So open the cap, and while you are storing the kayak away, see that you leave this drain plug open as this allows the hull to vent properly as the temperature changes.

Give it a Bath

Even when you’re not using your kayak, it can get very dirty and dusty. Therefore, it is always a good idea to rinse your kayak before you take it out into the waters. Moreover, in order to maintain your kayak, it is important that you regularly clean it, especially after taking it out of the water. Make sure to rinse your kayak after taking it out of the water and use only freshwater to remove all the grime.

Most water bodies are full of pollutants and unfriendly microbes that will damage the exterior of your kayak. However, a quick rinse will help eliminate them. Once you’ve rinsed the kayak, using mild soap, wash your kayak properly.

kayak cleaning

Wax & Polish

You can wax and polish your kayak to increase its longevity too. A kayak wax helps in preserving the fiberglass or composite hull. This helps in providing an extra layer of protection against the damage. It also helps boost the durability of the hull and protects it from UV rays and scratches and dents.

The wax is usually recommended for composite vessels; however, you can still use it for a polyethylene vessel for UV protection and enhance the hull’s appearance. Use a microfiber cloth, apply the wax, or even opt for a spray. However, do make sure that the cloth is slightly damp before you use it. After applying the wax, let it dry and then polish the hull to give your kayak a nice sheen.


When you’re using kayaks regularly, the constant stresses it experiences, including shocks, freezing, thawing, etc. can cause leaks to develop. And usually, these leaks occur in the seams, the ends, hatch rims, bulkheads, and skeg housings, etc. While most leaks are quite easy to fix, the difficult task is to find them in the first place.

Using a sawhorse, put around 3 to 5 gallons of water in each of the compartments one by one and see where the water drips out from. Next, see which compartment transfers water to which compartment; this usually helps indicate that there is a bulkhead leak somewhere in the perimeters. You can use sealants to repair these leaks. Just apply the sealant onto the area to seal it.

Check any Loose Parts

Before you store your kayak away, make sure to check all the screws. These screws are used in different places to help hold the kayak together; however, over time, with regular use and wear, the fitting tends to get loose. For this reason, you need to go over the fitting and ensure that all of the screws are tight.

If not, then use a screwdriver. Usually, a Phillips head screwdriver does the trick. Gently tighten all of the loose screws back into their place with the screwdriver. However, see that you don’t over tighten them.

Moreover, if your kayak features a rudder or a skeg, make sure to go over the deployment lines, all of the stainless steel cables and crimps, and thoroughly check the pivot hardware and the pedals. You need to clean the pivot points of the rudder or the skeg and then use a spray lubricant on them and on the pedals or sliders. You can squirt some of the lubricant on the cable housings as well in order to get to the interior of the guide sleeves.

UV Protection

UV rays can severely damage your kayaks. Leaving your kayak outside under direct sunlight can do more damage than you would have ever predicted. Once a year, see that you get your with a UV ray protectant spray on the entire hull and on every other equipment that is kept under direct sunlight for long periods.

UV rays can destroy the polyethylene hull, causing it to turn brittle and crack. While keeping your kayaks outside, make sure they are under a shady spot, or use a kayak cover.

You need to control the temperature even when you are inside, so make sure that the room isn’t too hot. While there are many kayaks that feature UV inhibitors in the plastic, you can also use UV sprays.

Don’t Forget Your Gear Too!

You need to maintain your gear as negligence can lead to them breaking or malfunctioning. Keeping your equipment in good condition isn’t that difficult. Here are some tips that you can follow.

Fishing Rods

Make sure to regularly clean the fish rods, especially the reel mounting hardware and the handle. Apart from that, see that the guides are clean to prevent buildup. Moreover, you must store your rods properly to protect them from damage. See that you store them vertically at room temperature to prevent the material of the rod from weakening.

Reel Maintenance

Properly clean the reel after using it as the dirt and sand can cause damage. However, do make sure to go through the instructions as all reels are different. Turn the drag pressure low before you store the reels away. To prevent corrosion, lubricate the moving parts; however, make sure to avoid all the gear mechanisms. Instead, use grease for the gears.

Saltwater damage

Most people don’t know the damage salt water can cause. If you don’t rinse your gears after using them in saltwater, they will become corroded. To prevent them from rusting, you must clean the reels and guides and properly rinse them.


Usually, people forget to clean the lures since they’re easier to replace. However, you can simply use some soapy water to clean them and can prevent salt and sand from accumulating.

How to Store

Kayaks are meant to be used in the water and are not suitable for land; therefore, it is important for you to know exactly how to store them away. Kayaks get exposed to severe damage due to extreme cold and heat; therefore, it is never a good idea to leave them on the rack when not in use. So many people prefer storing theirs in a garage instead.

For you to securely store your kayak in the garage, you need to make sure that you have ample space on hand and that you can keep the kayak off the floor. As mentioned, kayaks aren’t meant for the land; therefore, keeping it on a hard surface will damage the hull and will lead to cracks and leaks. It is preferable to store your kayak in either an overhead or an upright method by using standing racks and wall mounts.

kayak storage rack

Your garage needs to have a good amount of space, but you need to consider other factors as well. To maintain your vessel, you need to keep the temperature in check. No matter what your kayak may be made of, the temperature at which you keep it, plays an important role.

Storing your kayaks incorrectly will cause early wear and tear. Therefore, keeping it outside directly under sunlight will cause the heat to degrade the material. Moreover, humidity can cause wooden kayaks moisture damage, which then leads to shrinkage.

Some solutions to easily store your kayak that you can opt for include:

Storage racks

These allow you to store the kayak such that it evenly distributes the weight, which is essential for maintaining a kayak. It is a very easy-to-access method; however, do remember that storage racks take up quite a lot of space.

Wall-mounted racks

These racks require less floor space; you just have to mount it once on the wall, and you’re good to go. However, even though you don’t need floor space, you need quite a lot of wall space. Moreover, you must make sure to position it away from the door and other shelvings. See that the rack arms have padding to avoid damaging the kayak’s exterior. Also, make sure that all the fixtures are tightly secured.


If you want to save space, then having an overhead pulley system installed would be a better idea. This way, your garage will be uncluttered, and you’ll be able to keep your kayak away from all hard surfaces while ensuring that the weight is distributed equally at all times.

Upright wall strap

Wall straps allow you to store your kayak in an upright position, which saves a lot of floor and wall space. However, do make sure that you have positioned it very precisely, and the straps are tightly secured.


A kayak stand is a good option if you’re always on the go as these stands are portable. You can easily store your vessel wherever you like. Moreover, the setup is very easy to install; however, do bear in mind that this option will require space.

Apart from these storing solutions, make sure to equip your garage with heaters and dehumidifiers to help maintain the temperature. This will allow you to achieve the right temperature you need.

And lastly, do not store your kayak away without cleaning it. Chemicals in the water, along with debris, can damage the valves. Make sure the kayaks are not damp. Wipe away all the moisture, get them sun-protected, and make sure that fixtures are tight and safe.

What about Inflatable Kayaks?

For your inflatable kayak to last a long time, it is important that you maintain it. Wear and tear are normal that these kayaks are built to withstand. However, you can always prolong the lifespan and durability if you maintain them well enough. You need to take proper care of your paddling kayaks in order for them to last you a while. The worst thing that you could do is take the kayak out of the water, roll it and store it away, especially after you’ve just finished paddling.

Here are some steps that you need to follow in order to protect your inflatable kayaks from damage, and to increase their lifespan.

Make sure to clean the valves and remove all the sand and dirt. Also, every once in a while, clean the whole kayak with some warm water and mild soap.

Oil from your skin and sunscreen can transfer from you onto the kayaks and can build up over time. Therefore, a good scrub once a year will remove all this buildup. See that you only rinse the kayak with fresh water after using it in the sea as saltwater corrodes the kayak material. Make sure that you close all the valves before rinsing to prevent mold from growing inside the tubes.

Clean away all the debris and chemicals, as this can cause serious damage to your kayak. Then dry it properly to eliminate any chance of mold or mildew growing as this can make the kayak more prone to leaks and punctures. However, don’t leave it outside in the sun for too long as UV rays can also cause damage. To provide your kayak with UV protection, you should use a 303 protectant spray.

Moreover, keeping your kayak in the heat for long periods will cause the heat pressure to expand. Therefore, make sure to let a little air out of your kayak so that the air expands as it helps in protecting the seams.

See that you don’t over-inflate your kayak as it can damage the seams. Inflatable kayaks can be inflated between 2.5 and 3.5 PSI; however, do make sure to go through the guidelines once.

When folding your kayak, remember not to roll it the exact same way every single time as creasing one area only will weaken that particular area. Instead, fold the kayak loosely and in a different way each time.

The best inflatable kayaks are very handy, especially for those who don’t have a lot of storage space on hand. Therefore, it is important that you look after your kayak. This way, it will last you a long period of time.


If you want your kayak vessels to last you a long time, it is essential that you pay attention to its aftercare. You need to look after the vessels, clean them, dry them, and keep them at the right controlled temperature. Whether you have an inflatable kayak or a normal one, you need to make sure that you maintain it for it to work efficiently. Neglecting this immediate aftercare will lead to your vessel ending up getting severely damaged, which can lead to costly repairs.