In an era of fishing kayaks, lessons from the master

Jimmy LeVine from The Tackle Shack in west-central Florida provided some well-needed lessons in kayak management to Tim Lesmeister while Lesmeister was picking up some new Hobies recently.

When I walked in the door of The Tackle Shack in Pinellas Park, Fla., I knew I was in the right place.

In one half of the building kayaks were spread out all over the floor and “Hobie Dick” as he is fondly called, was customizing a brand-new Pro Angler with all the whistles and bells. The walls were covered in kayak paraphernalia and “toys” for serious kayak anglers. The other half of the store was scuba gear, air rifles and spear guns as well as a large reception area with comfortable chairs that have cushioned a lot of customers over the years. No doubt a slew of great stories have been told and many punchlines have been repeated in that welcoming environment. It was here that I met Jimmy LeVine, the owner and chief storyteller of The Tackle Shack. His wisdom added a few new habits to my kayak program and will likely be added to yours as well.

The first great piece of advice Jimmy shared with me was to lubricate everything that moves on my kayaks. I use the Hobie kayaks so that means a lot of moving parts. There are the Mirage Drives as well as the rudders and I have never used a lubricant on these areas of the watercraft in the past because I always felt like it would just gum and goo up the mechanisms.

This thought was put to rest when Jimmy handed me a can of McLube Dry Lubricant and instructed me on where to apply it. It was basically every spot that moved, slid, or rubbed. You don’t have to operate under the false assumption that more is better in this situation. Just enough is plenty according to Jimmy.

The next lesson I got from Jimmy was a paddling lesson. I have tried Jimmy’s method since his instruction and can vouch for the accuracy of his tutelage in this area. Even with a kick kayak like the Hobie there are times when you drag out the paddle. Real shallow water would be one of those instances. We always feel compelled to dig deep with the paddle and pull hard to get the maximum thrust. Bottom line: We’re doing it wrong.

You only need to dip the paddle blade into the water to immerse about three-quarters of the blade. Instead of pulling back hard you twist your body at the core. Just like a baseball player swinging a bat or a boxing turning from the hips, you get the power from the body turn. I tried this method in some shallow-water flats and was amazed at how much propulsion you achieve. Try it next time you’re paddling your kayak.

The final piece of advice was a lesson in securing the kayaks for transport. When I pulled out a ratchet strap I could feel Jimmy’s eyes squint like Clint Eastwood’s behind those wrap-around sunglasses. He told me to put that strap in the back of the bus and gave me a tie down where the strap ran though a grip and was tightened by pulling the end of the strap. This way you couldn’t put so much force onto the tension that it would warp and crack the body of the kayak. It made sense when he informed me of the multitude of kayaks that get damaged from improperly used ratchet straps.

So now I have learned three new lessons courtesy of Jimmy LeVine at The Tackle Shack. As I spend more time deep in the cushions of the well-worn chairs in that reception area I’m betting I’ll learn a few more.

Categories: Blog Content, Tim Lesmeister

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