Maintaining Your Rod and Reel

When you get back from your fishing trip, you probably cleaned your boat and trailer and flushed the motor, but did you neglect your fishing gear? Maybe because you know you’ll use it again soon or maybe you weren’t in the mood. Yet cleaning and maintaining your fishing rod and reel is important for ensuring optimal performance, longevity and preventing corrosion. Let’s present a general guide for how to clean and maintain your fishing rod and reel.

Cleaning Your Fishing Rod


Rinse with Freshwater:

    • After each use, rinse your fishing rod with fresh water to remove salt, sand and other debris. Pay attention to guides, reel seats and the rod blank.


Check Guides:

    • Inspect the rod guides for any signs of damage or corrosion. If you notice any issues, clean the guides with a soft brush or toothbrush.


Inspect Reel Seat:

    • Check the reel seat for dirt or debris. Clean it with a soft cloth or brush.


Wipe Down Rod Blank:

    • Wipe down the rod blank with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residual salt or grime.


Handle and Cork Maintenance:

    • Clean cork handles with mild soap and water. Avoid soaking cork excessively. For Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam or synthetic handles, a gentle wipe with a damp cloth is usually sufficient.


Inspect Ferrules (for multi-piece rods):

    • If you have a multi-piece rod, check ferrules for cleanliness and snugness. Clean them with a soft cloth and ensure a secure fit.


Cleaning Your Fishing Reel


Remove Fishing Line:

    • Before cleaning, remove the fishing line from the reel. This allows easier access to all parts.


Rinse with Freshwater:

    • Rinse the reel under a gentle stream of fresh water to remove salt and debris. Rotate the handle to ensure water gets into all moving parts.


Disassemble (if necessary):

    • Some reels allow for partial disassembly. Refer to your reel’s manual for guidance. If you’re unsure, basic cleaning can be performed without full disassembly.


Clean Exterior:

    • Use a soft brush or toothbrush to clean the exterior of the reel. Pay attention to the handle, body and other external parts.


Clean the Spool:

    • Remove the spool and clean it with a brush or cloth. Check for any debris or old grease.


Clean Bearings:

    • If your reel has accessible bearings, clean them with a reel-cleaning solvent or rubbing alcohol. Apply a small amount of reel oil after cleaning.


Inspect Gears:

    • Inspect gears for wear or damage. Apply a small amount of reel grease to the gears for smooth operation.


Check Drag System:

    • Inspect the drag system for any abnormalities. Apply a small amount of drag grease if needed.


Lubricate Moving Parts:

    • Apply reel oil to critical moving parts such as the handle knobs, bail arm and any pivot points. Use a conservative amount.


Re-assemble the Reel:

    • If you disassembled any parts, reassemble the reel according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Check Reel Tension and Brake System (if applicable):

    • Adjust the reel tension and brake system to your preferred settings.


Re-install Fishing Line:

    • Once maintenance is complete, reinstall the fishing line following the reel’s line capacity recommendations.


Performing regular cleaning and maintenance, particularly after saltwater use, will help extend the life of your fishing rod and reel. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions, as different rods and reels may have unique features and maintenance requirements. Keeping your reels maintained is going to save you money in the long run!


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