How To Clean Fishing Reels


Going out fishing in the ocean, river, or lake is so much fun until you hear some irritating sounds coming from your reel and you wonder why…

Well, it simple! You don’t clean your gear as often as it should or maybe you even don’t have an idea that you are supposed to do so.

Yeah, just like anything else fishing reels get dirty each time you use them regardless of usage in freshwater, salty water, or ice water.

Remember that science topic about corrosion back in elementary school? If not, you have definitely heard of rust. This is exactly what happens to your tool when you store it without cleaning it. It will absolutely wear out!

But don’t get it wrong. It doesn’t mean that these reels are made of low-quality material, no! They are all made to last longer. The thing is keeping your reel clean will save from you having to drain your wallet to get a new one. As if that is not enough tidying up this tool will ensure it functions the very same way as of the first day you went out with it.

Cleaning fishing reels is just as easy as learning how to fish. This guide will show you exactly how simple the process is. Let’s get started!

1. Have Everything You Need In Place 

Get all your solvents and detergents in order before anything else.

“Am I going to use just any soap?” You may ask!

Well, that is probably a no for us! When choosing which cleaning agent to use while tidying up your fishing reels you should be very careful. Some parts of the reel are very delicate and may get damaged easily by these solvents that are sometimes even harsh to our own hands.

While gathering your cleaning equipment, you may also want to consider bringing a screwdriver, especially if you are going to dismantle your fishing reel. However, you should only do this if you are pretty sure that you can reassemble back your reel perfectly.

How about those interior most parts that we can’t reach with our bare hands? How do you go about cleaning these? A toothpick and some cotton will work perfectly for them.

Cleaning is never the end of it all; you will need to lubricate some of these parts of the fishing reel to see to it that it works efficiently. This means you will need to invest in the appropriate lubricant for your gear.

2. Choose To Dismantle Your Reel Or Not

This may be just one of the reasons why many people are afraid of cleaning their fishing reels; the fact that they think they got to tear them down.

Not everybody is so good at mechanics but this should not bother you. You can actually clean your fishing reel without having to break everything apart. However, if you feel and you are sure you can assemble everything back flawlessly, then go ahead! It’s even better that way as you get to reach even those sneaky areas.

Do you really want to do it with the last bolt down? Then it’s about time you considered bringing that old lime green beach shirt you ditched last summer to play or any other brightly colored clothing and lay it underneath before you have everything down. With this, you are simply avoiding losing those small and almost microscopic parts of the fishing reel.

3. Clean The Reel Itself

Even before going any further with cleaning fishing reels, always start with the outer part of the reel. This isn’t so hard for you, right?

But how do you do it?

You can wipe these external parts of a reel using a wet cloth and some soap (appropriate one) gently, and be sure that this soap can easily be rinsed off.

Some reels are nickel or brass coated. These types of materials should be soaked in vinegar for about half an hour so that they don’t discolor.

We mentioned earlier that some detergents contain acids that could easily damage your reel. Soaking your nickel or brass coated reel in vinegar will prevent corrosion and discoloration from such soaps.

Nevertheless, the rule of thumb here is to know what your fishing gear is made of as this will help you understand the process of cleaning it and the less corrosive soaps. However, do not soak the entire reel in water as this may cause damage to its inner parts.

4. Clean The Spool


Provided you are out there fishing, every single part of your reel is exposed to impurities and dirt that may be found in water, and the spool is no exception.

You however need to remove it first before you start cleaning it. Wash it from under and the top of the reel rotor to ensure all the impurities are cleaned off. Ensure you do this with clean water.

Don’t leave it at that! Put it out to dry. Just make sure it is not under direct sunlight as the UV rays from the sun could damage it. Get a place that has a nice shade and your spool will dry nicely, naturally.

5. Clean The Inner Parts Of The Reel

This is the heartbeat of it all!

Assuming you decided to dismantle your reel, then this is the step where you need to read carefully.

Some of these parts may be delicate because they are made of plastic hence you should be very careful with the soap you are using.  If you are not so sure about your soap, just wipe them with plain clean water and leave it at that.

Just like anything else, the fishing reels are prone to tough stains while out there. Wondering where they might come from?

We assume you have heard about oil spillage from water vessels and industrial disposal of waste products into these water bodies.  This is what we are talking about.

Just as the name suggests; tough stains – don’t come out easily. What does this mean? You will need something for this.

Wait, what about your old toothbrush that has tough bristles? This one will work perfectly! It will help you with the scrubbing and remove this stain that may cause damage to the inner parts of your reel.

You might also like: Perfect Surf Fishing Reels

6. Oiling And Greasing The Fishing Reel

You are now done with washing your fishing reel right but this doesn’t stop here. As we mentioned earlier, you still need to lubricate your fishing reel.

You remember that class you learned about corrosion? Your teacher must have mentioned oiling and greasing to avoid it. Okay, without even going back to that, you can experiment with this with your own body. You always oil your body after taking a shower to make it glow and prevent friction.

Just like your body, your fishing reel needs greasing. If lubrication is not done on any movable parts of any machine you can be assured that it’s not going far before it wears out courtesy of friction.

There are lubricants designed for fishing reels and you should invest in one. It is very easy to oil and lubricates a fishing reel especially when it has been broken down. You can use a piece of cloth or toothpick to spread the grease or oil on the reel even to the inner parts.

Ensure you apply a drop of oil on all the bearing of the reel and then spread it accordingly to ensure it is evenly distributed. Just don’t overdo the oiling as too much grease will get to the spool and your reel might not be able to cast far.

7. Reassembling Your Reel

We just can’t ignore this for the sake of that person who dismantled their reel for better cleaning. As mentioned earlier you really don’t have to break the whole thing down anyway.

Reels are made in a way that you can easily do the cleaning without having to tear the whole thing down to the last bolt.

Putting all parts together when breaking it down and probably going ahead and labeling them properly is an essential move to reassembling.

You should ensure you have the right screwdriver to perform this task. It should not be difficult for you if it was not difficult while breaking it down.

We can recommend a reverse order for reassembling, where you start from where you ended when you were tearing down the fishing reel.

However, you don’t have to stress yourself breaking down the whole thing every time you go out. You can just do this probably semiannually.

Once you are done reassembling your reel, take a gear test. You can do this on your fishing kayak, or any other floating device just to be sure you have put every part of your reel back perfectly.

8. Clean Your Rod

This may sound unnecessary but it’s an important part of cleaning fishing reels. The rod is also a part of your fishing reel and may come across impurities like salt from the water that may damage it.

Just like any other part of your reel, cleanse the rod with clean water and use a detergent that can be rinsed off easily. Once you are done, get to greasing. Pour a drop of oil on the rod and spread it accordingly and that’s it!

You however don’t have to do this every time you hit the lake or ocean for some fish! You just need to do this type of cleaning once in a while. Other times you can just rinse your fishing reel with clean water, dry it, and store it for next time!

Globo Surf Overview

Corroded tools not only look bad and ugly but also perform poorly when it comes to their functions. Cleaning fishing reels as often as you use them will ensure that all these are unknown tales to you.

Well, you are not going to clean your reel when you have an endless to-do-list on a single day. Take your time on this, as it is something you won’t be doing again any time soon.

Following the above steps of cleaning fishing reels will help keep this piece of gear clean and have an enjoyable fishing experience. However, having to tear your fishing reel down will need you to be very smart and keen.

If your fish-harvesting machine is too old then dismantling it will be a bad idea! It may be too old that once you tear it down it may never be back to its initial condition and shape. You really don’t want to lose that one reel your grandpa gave you on your first fishing day, do you? Then forget about dismantling your tool.  Just clean what you can and you will still have a fantastic day at the lake.

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