Simple Maintenance Tips for Your Fishing Kayaks

Simple Maintenance Tips for Your Fishing Kayaks

Kayak maintenance is an important part of owning a kayak and should not be overlooked. Cleaning and maintaining your kayak and associated equipment a few times a year will keep it looking good and functioning well, ensuring that your kayak lasts for years to come.

Keeping your kayak clean is essential for its longevity and performance, so make sure to give it a thorough cleaning every now and then. Additionally, protecting your kayak from the sun’s UV rays will help keep it looking new for longer.

When maintaining your kayak, pay attention to the little details as well. Proper storage and foot peg maintenance are also important for keeping your kayak in good condition. Make sure to store and transport your kayak with care, as this can have an effect on its lifespan.

If you follow these tips, you can ensure that your kayak stays in top shape all year round! Share this article with friends so they can learn more about how to maintain their own kayaks too.

So, Should You Even Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Kayak?

Kayak maintenance is an important part of owning a kayak, as it helps to keep the investment in top condition. Regular cleaning and care can prevent skegs, rudders, hatches, tow lines, and paddles from deteriorating. Taking care of a kayak does not take much effort but is essential for keeping it in good condition.

Additionally, regular maintenance such as buffing out superficial scratches with a polishing compound should be done to ensure the kayak remains in good condition. It is also important to make sure that your drybag contents and emergency kit are fully stocked with all necessary items as well as checking that your life jacket is in good condition.

Give Your Kayak a Check-up

Regular checkups of your kayak are essential to ensure its longevity and performance. Start by inspecting the neoprene hatch covers, cables, buckles, straps and other moving parts for any signs of wear or damage. Make sure all nuts are tightened securely and that the hardware exit holes have watertight silicone seals. Once a year, give the hull and deck a thorough review; repair deep scratches as needed.

After each use, it is important to wash your kayak inside and out with a non-abrasive kitchen-cleaning pad and soft cloth. For tougher marks or stains on composite kayaks, use Acetone but not on Poly or Thermoform Kayaks. To protect from fading, apply UV inhibitor (UV Tech, 303 Protectant) to plastic & composite finishes and treat VCP hatches, gaskets, and rubber materials to maintain watertight seals. With regular maintenance you can keep your kayak in top condition for many years of enjoyable paddling on the water.

It’s always a good idea to check for loose hardware on the kayak and the deck for damage. Just a quick inspection over the entire boat only takes a minute or so. This can make sure your kayak is in tip-top shape before you hit the water. 

Keep It Clean Every Time You’re on the Water

Keeping your kayak clean is an important part of maintaining its appearance and performance. After each use, it’s important to rinse off the boat with clean water and a small amount of bleach or vinegar to remove any dirt, grime, or pond scum that may have accumulated during your outing. Salt from seawater and sand from the beach can also damage metal parts of the boat if not washed away. Additionally, dried pond scum can be difficult and time consuming to remove if not taken care of immediately.

Once you’ve finished cleaning your kayak, it’s important to dry it before covering it with a tarp in order to avoid mold and mildew buildup. This will help keep your kayak looking great for years to come! Taking the time to properly care for your kayak will ensure that you get the most out of every adventure on the water.

Before You Paddle

Before you set off in your kayak, it is important to give it a good rinse. Start by using a hose to remove any dust, dirt, and cobwebs from the exterior of the kayak. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies too, as this is where spiders and other insects may be hiding out. After rinsing the outside of your kayak, consider using mild soap for extra cleaning if necessary. The last thing you want to do is hop into a kayak only to realize there is now a large wasp nest full of wasps located under your seat. 

Properly storing your kayak can help reduce the amount of dirt and debris that accumulates on it over time. When you return home after paddling, make sure to give your kayak another thorough rinse to remove any sand, mud, seaweed or other gunk that may have been picked up along the way. This will help keep your kayak clean and free from pests or other unwanted visitors!

Don’t Drag Your Kayak to the Water

While this may not be a problem in some areas such as sandy beaches there is always the risk of skeg damage to the kayak. Rocks and other hazards can give your kayak severe damage and may damage the PDL drive unit if it’s installed while dragging the kayak. 

Kayaks are a great way to explore the outdoors, but they can be vulnerable to sun damage. Sun exposure can cause cracking, fading, and other damage to the hull of your kayak. To prevent this from happening, it is important to take precautions when paddling in sunny conditions.

Make sure you regularly inspect and clean your kayak to ensure it is free of dirt, debris, and damage. Additionally, store your kayak in a cool, dry place when not in use. This will help protect it from the elements and keep it looking like new for years to come.

It is also important to use the appropriate lubricants on moving parts such as rudder cables or hatch covers to prevent corrosion and wear. This will help ensure that your kayak remains in good condition for longer periods of time. Taking these steps will not only help protect your investment but also make sure you have an enjoyable experience out on the water every time you go paddling! So don’t drag

Fall Maintenance

Fall is the perfect time to perform maintenance on your rotomolded kayak. To keep it in like-new condition, use a rigid bar sport rack and a “kayak cradle” when transporting to disperse the weight. Polyethylene may become more flexible in warm conditions, so be aware that it may temporarily deform at the weight bearing points. Cleaning your kayak with a plastic UV protectant at the beginning and end of the season will help protect its HDPE hull from UV exposure and cracking.

Additionally, spray chair straps and other components with outdoor fabric UV protection spray to resist saltwater and sunlight damage. Finally, waterproof your kayak by applying marine silicone sealant underneath hardware and threads at the end of first season and beginning of each season thereafter. With these simple steps, you can ensure that your rotomolded kayak remains in top condition for years to come!

Other Paddling Gear

Having the right gear is essential for a successful kayaking experience. Investing in upgrades like rod holders, a comfortable seat, or stabilizing outriggers can help improve your time on the water. If you have health or age-related issues, transitioning to a Versa Paddle or Gamut Paddle Holder may be beneficial. Additionally, investing in a kayak cart or other transportation system and using the carrying handles on your kayak for maintenance can make it easier to get out on the water.


Hatches are an important part of any kayak, providing storage space and access to the interior. It is important to take care when loading hatches in order to avoid damaging the skeg/rudder tubes, scratching the inside of the kayak, or damaging the bulkheads. Unevenly or excessively loaded hatches can lead to poor performance and deformation of the kayak. To fit hatch covers properly, it is recommended to apply silicone spray to both the hatch rim and inside edge of the hatch cover.

Additionally, hatch rims can leak which should be sealed from the underside with a small amount of sealant like a marine polyurethane sealant. The sealant should be spread into the gap between the rim edge and the kayak deck edge before wiping off any excess sealant. Taking these steps will ensure that your hatches remain watertight and secure for years to come.


Storing your kayak properly is essential for its longevity and performance. To protect from frost and UV rays, it’s best to store the boat off the ground, upside down on a padded rack and out of direct sunlight. Additionally, you should deploy the skeg during storage to relax the skeg deployment elastic/spring and prolong their effective lifespan. It’s also important to remove hatch covers during storage to allow hatches to dry out completely.

When it comes to indoor storage, this is preferred over outdoor storage as it avoids UV exposure and snow/ice buildup. An L-shaped frame with 2×4’s attached to a bearing wall can be used with nylon slings for simple storage.

Alternatively, a sling & pulley system is also effective and easy to use – place two 3-inch nylon slings around the kayaks underneath the bulkheads and hoist up & out of the way. With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your kayak is stored safely and securely.

Storing an inflatable kayak should follow this same procedure as well. You should rinse the kayak completely after each use whether you’ve been in fresh water or salt water. Then allow the kayak to dry completely or towel dry the kayak before deflating. Some inflatable kayaks will also have the proper kayak maintenance on a tag or affixed to the kayak in some way to follow. Once dried you can deflate and store in a dry cool place. 

PDL Drive Maintenance

Maintaining a PDL Drive is essential for keeping it in top condition and ensuring its longevity. Regular maintenance can help prevent any unexpected breakdowns or malfunctions while out on the water. To begin, tighten the pedals with a wrench or bicycle pedal wrench. Inspect the propeller and prop pin for damage, looseness, and debris. Carry spare parts with you at all times in case of an emergency.

Tighten crank arms and PDL drive lock knobs with an allen key and carry an extra lock knob as well. Powder-coat the metal driveshaft and lower unit to protect from corrosion, then touch up any chipped spots with oil-based marine-grade paint.

Test components, connections, and functionality at home before taking to the water to ensure everything is working properly. Clean and lubricate the drive shaft and other moving parts to prevent corrosion. Finally, store the PDL Drive in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight when not in use.

Deck Hardware

Having the right deck hardware on your fishing kayak is essential for a safe and enjoyable paddling experience. Deck hardware includes items such as cleats, bungee cords, and hatch covers that help secure items to the kayak and keep them in place. It also includes items like grab handles, foot braces, and rudder systems that help you control the kayak while paddling. Having the right deck hardware can make a big difference in how well your kayak performs on the water.

In addition to having the right deck hardware, it’s important to have a field repair kit on hand in case something goes wrong. A good repair kit should include items such as a multi-tool, two-part epoxy/resin, Aqua Seal, tire patch kit, sandpaper, lighter or waterproof matches, fishing line, garbage bag, self-tapping screws and more. Having a repair kit can save a trip or even a life if something goes wrong out on the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Wax A Kayak?

Waxing a kayak is an important part of maintaining it and keeping it in good condition. Waxing a composite kayak can provide additional protection to the hull, as well as increase its speed. It is recommended to wax a composite kayak regularly as part of the standard clean and protect care routine. On the other hand, waxing a polyethylene hull may not be necessary and may not result in an increase in speed.

Can I use wd 40 on my kayak?

WD-40 is not recommended for use on kayaks as it can damage the hull and cause discoloration. It is best to use a specialized marine cleaner or wax specifically designed for kayaks.

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