One of the problems for anglers, particularly those who fish in saltwater, is keeping their tackle free from rust. One North Carolina fishing guide has a neat solution

Salt’s two components are sodium and chloride, which separate when put into water or at areas with high humidity. In a humid environment, salt and water vapor combine with almost any metallic surface to form iron oxide, better known as rust. Salt will corrode almost any metal, especially fish hooks or tackle.

Anglers who don’t take care of their equipment soon wind up with “rusted out” tackle.

After use, rods, reels and boats can be easily washed clean of salt with a garden hose, but lures, hooks and swivels – anything made of metal – are another matter. Washing out tackle boxes after a day in a boat while on a sound or the ocean is impractical at times, and even freshwater usually contains some salt. In either case, salt combined with moisture and metal will form rust.

But one North Carolina fishing guide has a solution. Even better, it’s free.

Maynard Edwards of Lexington’s Yadkin Lakes Guide Service solves his rust problems at  the local shopping mall.

“They’re used a lot to keep moisture out of shoes,” said Edwards (336-247-1287). “You can go to any shoe store and get ’em free because they throw ’em away. I reckon they put ’em in shipped shoe boxes to keep the leather from cracking. The shoe stores throw away the silica packs, so they’re usually happy to let you take ’em off their hands.

“I put silica gel packets in my crankbait, jerkbait, buzzbait or spinnerbait tackle boxes.”

Silica gel, if you haven’t guessed by now, absorbs moisture, including invisible water vapor.

Sometimes when Edwards is fishing, if he has opened a tackle box or it sits on the deck of his bass or pontoon boat, a sudden downpour may soak everything, including the individual lure compartments inside a tackle box. Also, he may quickly change lures and put a wet lure back into a tackle box.

“If I come off the lake, I’ll take the tackle box out of the boat and try to dry it, then I put dry silica packets back into the box with the lures,” said Edwards. “A wet gel pack isn’t good anymore, so I keep a supply of them.”

He also places silica packs with his hooks and swivels to defeat rust. Even dry, enclosed tackle boxes may trap water vapor, particularly during times of high humidity. Within a day or two, rust will take hold unless there’s a water-absorbing agent inside the tackle box.

Edwards recently entered a Thomasville shoe store and asked a clerk if the store had silica packs.

“The young lady said, ‘We just got in a new bunch of new shoes,’ and she let me have a bunch,” Edwards said. “I gave her my (business) card; she called me later when they got another shoe shipment.”

For serious anglers, sharp hooks are essential because they guarantee more and better hook-ups.

“Rust ruins hooks, and I go through a lot of ’em,” he said. “The cost of replacing so many hooks can add up after a while. It takes me long enough to re-sharpen my hooks, so I don’t like to spend extra time tryin’ to get rust off.”