Given his meticulous tackle preparation and legendary precision, it makes sense that Aaron Martens would go to great lengths in protecting the tools of his trade. Funny thing is, one of his primary precautions leverages something so modest that people literally walk all over it.
No kidding; take a close look at — and into — the Alabama Bassmaster Elite Series pro’s boat and you’ll find plenty of the high-density foam made for home gym and playroom flooring. Sold in bundles of interlocking tiles at most home improvement stores, the tough, durable foam repels water so waves and rain won’t risk saturation and ensuing mold.
Martens’ main use, at least in terms of quantity, is the lining he adds to his boat’s storage container lids. Affixing the foam tile to the undersides with professional grade LocTite adhesive provides the insulation he finds critical to protecting his tackle.
“A lot of the lids are made of metal and when you have dark carpeting, they get really warm,” he said. “When it gets really hot, your tackle gets cooked. Your soft plastics will start to break down and separate; they’ll get oily.
“I’ve actually had hard plastics expand and blow up. If you’re fishing in extreme conditions, and you don’t insulate your lids, pretty much everything you own is going to deteriorate faster.”
To that point, Martens also uses foam on rod locker lids.
“The heat can cause your rods to warp or bend, and it can cause the grease in your reels to turn more viscous and drip out. That insulation is just an extra barrier that seems to offer more protection.
“Once, I had a couple of compartments that I didn’t get to finish insulating. The inside temperature difference had to be 20-30 degrees hotter than the ones that I had insulated. You’d reach into one compartment and everything is cool to the touch and you reach into the other one and everything is radiating heat.”
Other foam fixes
Beyond the heat protection, Martens finds several strategic applications for his foam.
Hangin’ out: Cutting strips the width of a lid’s underside creates handy lure hangers with impressive longevity. Dedicating certain strips to treble hook baits, some to spinnerbaits and buzzbaits and others to jigs and single hooks fosters organization and easy access. Maximizing his space, Martens also adds a couple of smaller foam strips to his rod locker lids for handing those “occasional” baits.
“That foam holds really, really well,” he said. “Even after a full year of use, I’ve never had a bait fall out of it.”