So, you have just had the most awesome trip, and you have caught stacks of fish. You are flying out tomorrow morning early, and you have got to pack all the kit you brought with you back into the space you brought it out in. The worst part of the trip.

The one thing I have learnt over the years is that throwing all your gear in your bag, wet, perhaps salty with the thought in your head that you are going to sort it out when you get back is a really bad idea. It never happens. When you finally get home and you are knackered the last thing you feel like doing is to get it all out again, clean it all, and then put it away. The best thing to do is to clean as much as you can on site before you fly. A nice shower does the job perfectly.

As I pack up my clothes I put all my gear in the shower while to soak in freshwater, and then lay it all out on a towel on the bed. Make sure you keep similar rods separate as it is very difficult to see the difference between and 8 weight and a 9 weight. I wipe all rods with a wet cloth including the rings to remove grime or salt, leave it to drip dry, and then dry them down. Leave them to dry as long as you can so the cork can dry. NEVER put rods away wet as the cork will rot, and the damp can get under the varnish and make it bubble off the blank. Also make sure the cloth bags that they are going back into are dry.

While I am doing this I fill up the sink and having loosened off all the drag drop the reels in and leave them to soak. Again, especially with saltwater, the salt gets right into the backing and can corrode the reel under it. If you have used the reel covers to cover the reels in the boat then make sure they are clean and dry as well. Then pull the reels out and let them dry on the towel as well. I also throw in the sink all the flies I have used, and any ironmongery such as forceps, leathermens and pliers. I also wash off spools of leader that have been drenched as they can get encrusted with salt, making them sticky for the future. I know this all sounds overly complicated, but once you have your system it takes very little time, and means the next time that you come to pull your gear out of the cupboard it is ready to go.

Finally, when you get home and are getting ready to put everything away throw the whole lot in the airing cupboard to dry it out completely. I have found mildew on my backing before, and this can make it break under strength. I also find the a little WD40 oil can go along way to preserving your ironmongery. It is also a moisture emulsifier, and will help protect them in the future. This may seem a little pedantic to some, but much of the equipment that we use these is VERY expensive, and simple steps like this can go a long way to prolonging their life. Have a look at this video on how to maintain your tackle: