In this article we are going to talk about fly line management, stripping baskets, and how to make one specifically for a kayak that will not only tame the wind, but collapse easily to be stored on the kayak when not in use.
Fly lines, I think, have the “eyes of a falcon”. They seem to seek out the smallest object - any object - that has the ability to snag, and will wrap around it in a split second to mess up your cast. Even a nice large boat deck, unless made specifically for fly casting, will have you snagged up in no time. Kayaks are compact, so you have a lot of stuff in a small space. My paddle isn’t an issue, but some of my accessories (like my foot pegs) are.
They sell some fancy items for boats, but most are too large for kayaks Some you could modify for a kayak to help keep the line in place, but a good old beach towel (wet and wrung out to still retain the weight works) great to eliminate snags. This works until the wind hits 10-20 knots or more. When that happens, the distance between your hands and the bottom of the deck as you strip line becomes an issue. This is where your line is exposed to the wind, which will push your line out of your kayak or to the side where it will either snag or tangle. Even if it’s just pushed into the water without a tangle, your casting distance will be reduced because of the water drag.
Don’t leave your fly rod at home when the winds are blowing. Here are a few things you can do:
- Up the size of your fly rod (if you can) so you have heavier fly line to help cut the wind.
- Use lighter flies.
- Throw a little lower cast - a little more sidearm, closer to the water.
- Anchor your kayak so the wind is at your back. This puts your back cast into the wind, and your release to your target is sailing with the wind.
- Bring along a stripping basket that can easily be stowed out of the way.
With this in mind let’s explain how to build an inexpensive but very effective collapsible stripping basket that will last for a very long time.
What to buy:
- Collapsible leaf basket - Measure the inside of your kayak to see what diameter you can use, since there are a few different sizes available. Go to your local store that sells garden supplies and look for an appropriate size “collapsible leaf container” made out of a vinyl type material (most are) so it’s waterproof. The one I have is 19”across by 23”high when opened and has hook-and-loop straps to secure it when collapsed. You don’t want one too short, or one that is see through mesh; your goal is to reduce the distance your line travels from your stripping hand when exposed to the wind. Price should average $20.
- Plastic Pegboard- Buy a plastic pegboard. It’s an upgraded version of the old pressed-wood pegboard you see in some garages with tools hanging from it - a piece of ¼”flat plastic with holes in it. You can get a 48” X 96” sheet for under $20 to make more than one, or find smaller squares for less at your local hardware store. Any piece of plastic that covers the bottom and is about ¼”thick will work; its purpose is to be waterproof, add weight to the bottom of the stripping basket so it doesn’t flip over easily, and to have some small holes. Alternatively, if you have something without holes, you can easily drill them.
- Nylon Cable Ties- Last, you need five or six nylon cable ties, commonly referred to as zip ties or tie wraps. A pack of these is under $5. I like the little thicker and longer ones so that once secured through the two holes I can cut them down to about 6”.
Tools you need:
- Permanent marker
- Saw (circular saw, reciprocating saw, or hand saw with smaller teeth)
- Cutting tool (scissors, wire cutters)
- Put the pegboard on the floor, and put your collapsible leaf basket on top. Get a permanent marker and trace the bottom of the leaf basket.
- Now grab your saw and cut out the circle you just drew, but cut a little inside the circle so the pegboard will fit securely inside the bottom of the leaf basket.
- Next, take a zip tie and go through one hole in the center of the plastic peg board, out through another hole right next to it, and zip it up. If you are drilling your own just drill them a ¼” to ½” apart. This doesn’t need to be exact - just enough so it won’t easily break the piece in between.
- Now randomly and evenly spread out the next four or five zip ties, and do the same thing. [Make sure all the long ends of the zip ties are coming out the same side of the board. IR] If you have super-long zip ties, cut them down to about 6” - you want them to stand up reasonably straight.
- Finally, take your peg board with the zip ties and put it in the bottom of the opened collapsible leaf basket. Push the leaf basket down, and secure it with the Velcro straps or whatever yours has to hold it together when collapsed.
Remember, when you’re in the kayak and ready to use, take care in opening. Leaf baskets are spring loaded and they pop open quickly, so keep your head out of the way or you might be in for a swim.
Live life by the minute, and get outdoors and have fun!