How Can You Preserve Cork Handles?

protect core handles on fishing rods

A weathered cork handle is often a source of pride for many anglers. However, not every angler likes their handle this way.

While fishing, handles are susceptible to all kinds of damaging contaminants. They get in contact with fish guts, blood, sweat, water, oil from hands, and a whole lot more.

As a result, cork handles are always in danger of deteriorating quickly if not maintained.

Knowing effective ways you can use spinning rods, fly fishing rods, casting rods, and other types of rods that come with a cork handle can come in handy in many situations.

Although there are ways to repair cork handles, why cure it when you can prevent it?

Here’s everything you need to know about keeping the cork grip on your fishing rods well protected:

Restore Cork Handles & Bring New Life to Your Fishing Rods

Why Do Cork Handles Need Protection?

Cork is an impermeable material harvested from the bark tissue of trees.

Wine companies aren’t the only ones that use cork. This natural material also makes for an excellent fishing rod handle.

The cork is excellent at transmitting vibrations so that anglers know immediately when they have a bite. It is also made from suberin, which is a hydrophobic substance.

This keeps the cork from absorbing moisture and sweat too readily and disintegrating right away. Be it a rainy day or particularly dry weather, cork handles provide a firm grip at all times.

Other reasons why cork makes for an excellent grip are because of its lightweight durability, and the ability to mold around the hand of the angler holding it.

The one drawback of cork handles is their ability to stain and discolor quite easily. But that can be taken care of if you take measures to protect them while they are still new and unused.

How to Protect Cork Handles on Fishing Rods?

If you want your cork handles to remain sturdy and beautiful for a decade: clean, condition, and seal.

These three steps are all it takes them. After a couple of trials and errors, you’d be able to find products that work best for you to maintain the cork handles.

Follow our three-step guide:

1) Clean & Wash Thoroughly

Start the process of protecting the cork handles on your fishing rods by giving them a thorough cleaning. The hydrophobic quality of the material makes it very easy to wash and dry.

Fill a bowl with warm soapy water, dip a sponge in it, and gently rub it all across the handle. You can be slightly rigorous where there are stubborn stains.

Once you have got rid of all the dirt and stains, wash the cork grip under running water to get rid of any of the soap residue.

Alternatively, you can also use baby wipes if your fishing rod is relatively new.

Magic erasers and old toothbrushes dipped in soapy water, also work well for cleaning the cork handles.

Keep in mind that excessive rubbing and too much pressure can cause the cork grip to fall apart.

Once you are satisfied, leave the cork handle to dry.

2) Condition and Seal The Cork Handle

Once the cork is completely dry, you can move on to the next step. Fortunately, there are numerous products on the market that condition and seal the cork handle at the same time.

The most popular choice is the U40 cork sealer, but you can pick anyone you like. Cork sealants available in shoe stores work just as nicely.

One bottle of sealant can take care of dozens of fishing rods!

To apply the conditioner/seal, always use a bristle brush so you can reach all the nooks and crannies of the cork grip.

Once you are done, use a clean brush to wipe off any excess sealant or conditioner as it can cause streaking and sagging. Don’t forget to wash your brush right away.

One coat is all you need. There’s no use going for a second coat of the seal since the first coat will prevent any kind of liquid from penetrating from this point on.

3) Let The Rod Cure For At Least 24 Hours

Once again, leave out your freshly sealed fishing rods to cure. The seal will dry up in 20-30 minutes, but you cannot use the fishing rod for at least the next 24 hours.

Final Thoughts

Protecting the cork handles on your fishing rods takes less than half an hour, but it makes them last for decades. Make a habit of cleaning and sealing your fishing rods the moment you purchase them.

All you need is soapy water, a sponge, a good sealant and conditioner, and a bristle brush to get the job done.

These three simple steps are all it takes to protect your cork handles from the elements helping you get the most life out of your fishing rod.