As we head well into the 2021 Kayak Fishing Tournament season, Competitive Team Member, John Rapp, offers some insight on how to make sure your kayak is bullet proof before you head out.

Next time you are walking up to a podium or stage to collect a check or prizes or when out filming a kayak fishing adventure you want to be able to look back at your time spent over the cooler months knowing you took the right steps to get you where you are. It's a great thing to be able to reflect on how things went right on the water when we are writing our recaps for the event we just finished or outing that just took place.

Whether you have yet to even hit the water for the first time or you're already well into fishing several tournaments, here are a few quick tips that I recommend:

Preparation and Maintenance

Over the winter, you'll find kayak anglers switching out tackle and equipment to their new kayaks they have just bought or upgrading their current setup with next years must have gadgets. Then there are the more serious anglers who spend countless hours repairing, maintaining and modifying their vessel to be ready for the next tournament event which at the national level, typically starts at the end of February. This is important so you don't end up in situations where you are caught off guard while out on the water.

I often come across people's tournament blogs and recaps after attending national and local trail events where equipment failure was the #1 contributing factor to a bad day or event. Like with any product that goes through motions of use, it happens, but you can do your best to try and minimize it - no different than a bike rider prepping his bike for the next race. For us Feelfree Kayak owners, there are a couple of areas that you should focus on, specifically those accessories with moving parts.

Start by taking your seat off the kayak and check every moving part and all of your bolts, then double check them. Some have used some form of lock tight which is great but thoroughly check to see if a new application is necessary.

Secondly is the Overdrive system, which consists of a variety of moving parts from the prop to the crank arms and all the gearing. I recommend a shot or two of white lithium grease to assist in efficiency and extending its life. Last thing you want is for your system to lock up miles from the put in. Like your seat, check for loose bolts and if necessary, use some form of lock tight on your pedals. 

Finally, your rudder and steering system. Make sure you check your wires and parts to your rudder system for kinks and loose parts. Add a few drops of grease where needed and make sure it works smoothly. 

While you are at it, perform a safety check to ensure you don't have any holes in your hull from the last season and inspect your hatch seals if you have one. 

As a side note, it is always a good idea to have a small toolbox with you, just place a few key items in a small dry bag in case you have to adjust something while out on the water or make a quick repair.


Many resources exist including some from our very own team members. Some have written blogs while others publish their own videos on YouTube. Feelfree dealer and and ProStaff member, Tyler Thiede, has several great videos for example - including these two which I highly recommend you check out:

Feelfree Kayaks Gravity Seat Maintenance:

Overdrive Pedal System Maintenance:

These are just a few tips, do your research, hit up the user groups on Facebook for other ideas and go into the season knowing your kayak is in good shape so you can focus on fishing!

Written by John Rapp, Feelfree Competitive Fishing Team Member
Video Credits: Tyler Thiede of Small Craft Fisherman