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How to Store Fishing Gear

So, you like fishing, but need some help finding the best ways to clean and store your gear while you aren’t using it. No matter how often you go fishing, whether it’s once a week or once every five years, I’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks to stay organized during and after your next fishing trip. From cleaning your gear so that it stays ready to go for the next time you cast off to knowing where you can store your supplies, see how we recommend you keep your gear in top condition season after season.

How to Clean Fishing Gear

Now is the perfect time to clean up your rods and reels, do some offseason gear maintenance, and make sure everything is in top condition for your next fishing or camping adventure. Before we get into the actual cleaning, let’s talk supplies.  

For a cleaner, you will want to use either a mild dish soap with little to no scent or your favorite rod cleaner from the bait shop. The tools you will want on deck will be lots of cotton swabs and a clean rag or cloth – if you have stubborn dirt, a soft bristle scrub brush will come in handy as well. For a reel lubricant, most oils like WD-40 will work. If you’re looking for an all-in-one spot for cleaning supplies you can also find rod and reel cleaning kits, like the Ardent Reel Kleen kit that is recommended by fishing experts. 

Fishing Rod Maintenance:  

  • The first step is to take your reel off and hose down your rod to remove any dirt from last season. Which, if there is, hopefully won’t be a problem for you next time! 
  • Using your preferred cleaner, give a few spritzes to all of the guides on your rod. Then take a cotton swab and get all the cleaner, dirt, and grime wiped off.  
  • When wiping the guides down check to see if any of the cotton swab fibers are getting caught, this could be an indication that there is a nicked guide wich can weaken your fishing lines. 
  • If you find small nicks these can easily be sanded out with super fine grit sandpaper. If the nick is large, then it might be time to think about further repairs.  
  • Wipe down any remaining parts of your rod with the cleaner and a cloth until it is sparkly clean. 
  • If you have any tough spots where the dirt doesn’t want to leave, especially on places like the grip, use your soft bristle scrub brush and some cleaner and really get in there. 
  • After you’ve removed all the dirt from your rod, make sure you wipe off any excess water with a dry rag. Water that gets left on any of the metal components can lead to rusting. 

Reel Maintenance: 

  • Start cleaning by giving the entire reel a good wipe down with cleaner and a cloth before you get into all the tiny areas. 
  • Now you will want to open up your reel, take the side plate, spool shaft, and all the other small parts out and give them a scrub with a cotton swab and cleaner for any dirt, debris, or grass.  
  • Don’t forget spots like the level wind and worm gear set 
  • If you want an extra deep cleansing, use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to clean out your reel before going back in with the cleaner and a fresh cotton swab 
  • Wipe down your reel handles of any dirt that can gunk it up with cleaner and a cloth 
  • After all the dirt has been wiped down from your reel, take your lubricant oil and place a drop or two around the bearings of your reel handles, spool shaft, side plate bearing, and anywhere else on your reel that you can see an exposed bearing or gear.  
  • This will give you the least resistance when casting your reels.  
  • Once both the rod and reel are clean, you’re ready to keep casting!

How to Organize Fishing Gear

Fishing is meant to be relaxing, but one thing that can take you out of your calm state is having to untangle your fishing line over and over and over. How you organize your fishing gear is really up to your preference, but I have a couple methods for the different types of fishers out there to try out so you can keep as cool as a sea-cucumber: 

Method 1 – The Special Occasion Fisher

  • If you are only going out on the water for very special occasions, then keeping your tackle bags and boxes organized should be very easy. Since you aren’t getting a ton of use to cause wear and tear on your tackle box you can probably get away with the less expensive and smaller boxes. This watertight Bass Pro Shop box is inexpensive, will guarantee to keep your materials dry, and is small enough to stay out of the way when not in use. 
  • Since you aren’t using your gear all the time, you might not know the best way to organize the inside of your tackle box. Some quick rules to follow when organizing the inside of your tackle box are:  
  • Group alike items  
  • Label everything 
  • Put the items you use the most in the most accessible spots  
  • Put spot plastics in their own baggies to optimize space in the box 
  • Only keep what you’ll need in your box (do you really need 50 fishhooks for your one day of fishing? Probably not) 
  • Most tackle box organizers for boats come with lids for each compartment level, but if you go the individual compartment route be sure to get some with lids for the sections with little pieces. Items like small fishing hooks can easily get lost in the box while you transport them, so having a compartment with a lid will keep them in one place, keep them dry to prevent rusting, and to protect yourself from any accidental finger pokes.

Method 2 – The Seasonal Fisher

  • Having a sturdy tackle box that is large enough to fit your needs while being able to withstand multiple seasons, like this Plano Series 4 box, is important to your gear organization.  
  • Make sure every bit and bob has its own designated compartment and slot and stay diligent about not mixing items together. If you do, just make sure at the end of the day you put everything back in its place.  
  • Label, label, label! Having your boxes and compartments labeled, whether that means writing on each compartment with sharpie or having nice waterproof sticky labels, this will help you quickly find what you’re looking for and let anyone else you allow into your tackle box to put everything back in the right place. 

Method 3 – The Year-Round Fisher

  • You won’t be catching the same kind of fish year-round (in most waters). Using separate tackleboxes for winter, spring, summer, and fall will keep you fishing fast without being bogged down with too much tackle. 
  • Personally, I have two tackle boxes. A giant master one that stores all the tackle not in use, and a smaller one that just holds what I need for the day. I’ll leave a compartment open with a cup to hold bait too. 
  • Like the seasonal fisher, it is very important to label the compartments and be diligent about keeping everything in the proper place for easy organization. 
  • Organize the grouping of compartments by the species of fish. If you have a multi-level tackle box, then each level can be for a different species. The top level can be for the general bait that works universally, like jigs and spinners, since you will most likely use those the most. The other levels can get more specific, like crankbait for largemouth bass or twister tail grubs for walleyes.

Fishing Gear Storage

No matter what type of fisher you are, you need a clean, dry place to put your gear when it is not in use. While there are a dozen fishing pole storage ideas out there, we recommend this super handy fishing rod tackle cart from Rush Creek Creations. It has slots on the sides to hang your rods and shelves in the center to place your tackle boxes and additional supplies. The best part about this cart is that it is fairly slim and has wheels that make it easy and convenient to place in your garage, shed, or self storage unit. 

For the seasonal fisher or special occasion fisher, keeping your fishing supplies at home might just be more of a clutter than a convenience. To free up some space in your home that your fishing supplies takes up, a self storage unit might be your perfect solution. To guarantee your fishing supplies are staying in top condition while not in use, a climate controlled unit will keep your gear temperature controlled, dry to prevent rusting on your rods and metal gear, and ventilated to control the lingering fish smell (gross, but important to think about). Easily come grab your supplies from your unit before the next fishing trip and you’ll be good to go! 

We recommend a 5×5 unit for fishing supplies, and if you choose to get the Rush Creek Creation cart this will roll right in for super convenient storage. Not sure if a 5×5 will be able to fit all your gear or in need of additional boat storage as well? Check out our Self Storage Calculator to find out how much space you may need, then rent online today for our best deals. Happy fishing!