Thursday, February 24, 2011

Build a Large Kayak Fishing Crate

If you fish out of a kayak, chances are you own a kayak crate.  I’ve built a lot of these things in the past few years, mainly starting with the file crates that are available at stores like Office Depot and Walmart.  For me, the plastic milk crates that can be found out back of most grocery stores are a little too small.  The downfall of the office crates is that they don’t have near the rigidity that the milk crates offer.  With as much crap as I typically load into my kayak, the office crates don’t tend hold up for very long.  

I finally found what I was searching for at Home Depot.  The store’s $6.98 “Heavy Duty Work Tote” performs GREAT with a few modifications.   

 I used a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the 4 steel rods that affix the two folding lids to the rest of the crate.  

The whole unit fits nicely in the rear tankwells of my Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game and my Tarpon 140, holds a ton of gear and does not flex hardly at all. (For reference, the bottom dimensions of the crate measure 12” wide x 19” long, the top 15” x 22” and it is 12 inched deep)

For a while now I have been using Tractor Supply’s 3 quart feed scoops that sell for under $3 each.  The handles fit securely in 1.25” diameter PVC pipe and the extra storage comes in handy for holding all kinds of gear from loose lures to an anchor. 

TSC’s small “Over the Fence Feeder Basket” fits perfectly between the rod holders in the back of the crate.  This little box allows me to effectively use the space at the back of the crate that is hardest to reach. 

I store my dry box with things that I don’t need out on the water (wallet, keys, etc) underneath the red feeder basket.

All the PVC rod holders were cut to 14” in length and ziptied into place with 11” long heavy duty zip-ties - 100 packs are available at Harbor Freight for $1.99.  I mounted 8 rod holders and use them for rods, my telescoping GoPro Hero HD camera setup (writeup coming soon) as well as my telescoping kayak light for night fishing.  

Since the crate flares out from the bottom to the top lip, the space between the PVC at the bottom of the crate is perfect for storing bottled waters while not interfering with Plano box placement.  

So that’s it.  If you are looking for a larger crate or one that is more rigid, this is definitely the way to go.   I have another one of these totes that I plan to cut the narrow wall out of and fabricate something a little different, but as is, this one works great!


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An Unlikely Winner: Zebco's Omniflex Monophilament

Cheap fishing line.  Let me rephrase that – inexpensive, yet outstanding quality fishing line.  It exists and I wish I had known about Zebco’s Omniflex monophilament years ago.  At $2.50 for a 700 yard spool of 12lb test and lighter, you just can’t go wrong given the exceptional price and performance ($2.50 also buys 500 yards of 15lb test and 250 yards of 25lb).  I’ve been using this product for a little over two months now and it has performed as well, if not better, than the more notable Berkley, Stren or Sufix brands.

I’ve had experience with bargain priced line in the past.  A handful of bird-nested reels and snap offs resulting in a string of expletives that would make a sailor proud have kept me from dipping back into the sub-Berkley Trilene market for well over a decade.  To illustrate the cost comparison, I usually buy Berkley Trilene XL which runs approximately $7 for 330 yards of 12lb test.  That same $7 will buy around 2,400 yards of Omniflex.  Insert skepticism here (I did).

On a whim I purchased a spool of Zebco’s 6lb test to put on one of my river reels.  The store I went to was sold out of all of my go-to brands in that weight so I reluctantly went the cheaper route.  I wasn’t expecting much at all from the Omniflex.  In fact, I was quite sure I would be returning to another store to replace this stuff before the week was out.  I was delightfully mistaken.

I fished the reel spooled with the Omniflex over the course of a couple of weekends and couldn’t get over how well it casted.  No bird nests, no ringlets, smooth action, durability and great knot strength make this choice a winner.  I was expecting this line to have issues and I have yet to find one problem with it!  I like it so much that I decided to spool almost all of my other reels with Omniflex.  Since I respool all my reels every spring, the cash savings alone was quite significant.  I do not notice a difference in performance between this line and Trilene XL or Sufix.  Dare I say it may even cast better than both of these brands.

If this product continues to hold up throughout the season, it will be my new go-to option.   To date, I have tested the 6, 8, 10, and 12 lb offerings and each performs exceptionally well.  And apparently I'm not the only one who likes the stuff.  After a rather detailed search on various fishing forums, I found quite a few posts from folks that share the same opinion about this line as I do.  I urge you to give Zebco’s Omniflex monophilament a try.  I think you will be surprised to find out what a great product it really is regardless of its low price. You can thank me later.

- Paul 

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