Help Prevent Rusty Fishing Tackle with This Easy Trick

Charcoal can help prevent rusty fishing tackle and it's surprisingly effective.
This trick is elemental. Will it prevent rusty fishing tackle? Well, you can't neglect keeping your tackle clean, but this tip will work as a redundant safeguard.

It’s May. So many of you around the country are venturing deep into the recesses of your garages, or into your tackle stash, to dust off last year’s surf tackle. It’s almost time for spring blitzes.

Only, when you lift the lid of the surf box, tragedy strikes. Maybe you’ve got some lures or hooks in there that look like this:

Rust happens to the best of us, especially if you sometimes fish saltwater like I do.

It’s happened to the best of us. Any fisherman who tells you he’s never dealt with rust on gear, ever, is telling a fish tale. A unique type of fish tale, but a fish tale nonetheless. Thankfully, it’s easier to help prevent rusty fishing tackle than you might think.


I’ve got a unique and helpful trick to help you keep rust off your gear, and it’s not what you think.


Many other blogs and resources will tell you to use WD-40 to keep rust off your gear.

You know what. They’re right. WD-40 does prevent rust. 


In case you never heard this, the WD in WD-40 actually stands for “water displacement.” WD-40 was developed to keep water off of things, and not as a lubricant. It just happens to be pretty good as a lubricant, too. 


So WD-40 will keep your lures and hooks from rusting. Some folks will also swear up and down that WD-40 attracts fish. I’m doubtful. More than likely, it masks your scent, which lowers the inhibitions of some fish, causing them to be less hesitant about striking. 


That seems more likely to me. The jury’s out on that little debate, but it will help fight rust.


Now, call me old fashioned, but I don’t cherish the idea of spraying my lures and hooks with WD-40 and then fishing with them. The ocean is big, but I’m not doing it any favors by throwing WD-40 into the wash. I also fish freshwater a lot, so I like to keep things clean. 


Here’s my secret weapon that helps prevent rusty fishing tackle: charcoal.

Charcoal for the Win

Charcoal helps prevent rusty fishing tackle.
Black gold. Because it's so absorbent, it's highly effective at removing moisture and stalling rust.

That’s right, this magic stuff. 


It’s everyone’s favorite cooking fuel. Who knew charcoal was so effective at preventing rust? 


Actually, it’s simple math. The same traits that make activated charcoal so effective at absorbing toxins also make it highly effective at preventing rust. 


Charcoal is massively absorbent. So much so, that if you sprinkle a few nuggets of this black gold into the bottoms of your tackle boxes, they’ll help keep them drier for longer. 


Go ahead, try it. You don’t need a lot. Just take a few bits of this stuff out of the bottom of the firepit and drop them into your tackle box and they’ll work hard, season in and out, to keep your tackle dry. 


By the way, this is not fishing-specific wisdom. You can use this trick in toolboxes and elsewhere that you want to drive out moisture. It apparently works in those situations as well. 

Wait, That’s It? Charcoal Will Help Prevent Rusty Fishing Tackle?

I would like to publish a candid caveat. This is not a magic solution for rust. 


I am talking to you directly. Do not – do not – go fishing in saltwater, cut off your lures, and drop them in your tackle box in the ignorant confidence that The Eclectic Outfitter (as sagacious and insightful as he is) assured you that charcoal would prevent rust unequivocally. 


Your gear will rust, and I don’t want you to come on here and flame me in the comment

Say goodbye to rusty fishing tackle with this trick.
Just drop a few pieces of spare charcoal in your box or tray and rest easy.

Charcoal does not prevent rust. It helps prevent rust, assuming you continue to follow best practices for saltwater gear maintenance. 


This is not a replacement for rinsing off your saltwater tackle with fresh water each and every time you fish in the salt. You still need to do that. Sorry. 


However, that little bit of charcoal you put in the bottom of your tackle box might just keep that little speck of water or salt you didn’t wash off from blooming into a full-scale rust infection. 


So, take it for what it’s worth. You still need to rinse and dry your gear, but with this trick, your hedge against rust just grew a tiny bit taller. (Here’s another tip, by the way, to stop spinners from fouling.)


Tight lines and be safe. 


~The Eclectic Outfitter.

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