A picture of a fishing reel

How to Clean a Fishing Reel

Tackle failures are very frustrating. It even gets worse if you lose a great catch for reasons you can avoid. Interestingly, one way to minimize tackle failures is by keeping your fishing reel in good working condition. Indeed, cleaning and periodically maintaining your reel remains the most certain way to keep your reel working. However, many seasoned and novice anglers do not know how to clean and store a fishing reel properly.

You no longer need to worry.

While nature is breathtakingly appealing, the outdoor environment is full of surprises. Thus, your gear is most likely going to end up with bait grime, slime, and blood. You may need to clean up your fishing gear after every couple or so fishing expeditions. And you may need to conduct a cleanup after every saltwater fishing outing.

Of course, that will not stop you from catching fish the next time you cast your reel. But don’t you think that the reel will look nasty? Besides, a buildup of dirt, blood, and sediments compromises the durability of your fishing equipment.

We will take you through a step-by-step guide on cleaning and maintaining your reel. But before that, let us look at some of the things you need for cleaning your fishing gear.

Everything You Need for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Fishing Reel

A picture of sample fishing reels

It is a fact that you cannot clean a fishing reel with your bare hands. You need a set of tools, materials, and equipment to carry out the task as desired.

So, look for the following before you begin the cleanup process;

  • An empty bucket
  • Warm soapy water
  • An all-purpose boat cleaner
  • Toothpicks
  • Freshwater
  • Cotton swabs or a sponge
  • A soft cloth or clean rags
  • A small paintbrush or a toothbrush
  • A pair of tweezers
  • Reel oil or a lubricant of your preference


7 Simple Steps On How to Clean a Fishing Reel

And now, on cleaning your reel; the following steps

should help you clean your reel;


Step 1- Separate The Components

Honestly, performing a proper cleanup of your fishing gear is impossible if it remains set, and this applies to everyone, including those using the best fishing rod and reel combos.

So, you will need to disintegrate the rod from the reel and clean them separately. Also, you will need to take out the line from the guides and secure it on the reel. Tweezers will help you handle any wire clips and springs.

Step 2- Clean The Reel

Cleaning the reel is the most complicated of the entire process. The process needs a lot of care. A small mistake could mess up the whole system.

Take note of the following steps;

  1. Remove debris or any sediments you find in the reel.
  2. Tighten the drag knob completely. Tightening the drag knob helps to prevent water from contaminating the drag stack.
  • Do not immerse the real into a container of water. You should also not wash the reel under high pressure. Instead, use cotton swabs or a sponge soaked in warm, soapy water or all-purpose boat cleaner to wipe the reel.
  1. Rinse your fishing reel with clean water.
  2. Dry it properly with clean rags or a clean piece of cloth.
  3. Apply some reel oil or any appropriate lubricant on a clean piece of cloth and use it to rub your reel.


Step 3- Clean The Spool

You do not want to end up with salt deposits, gunk, or sediments in your spool. And that’s why cleaning your spool becomes an important undertaking.

The following steps will suffice;

  1. Strip off the line for individual washing in the next step. But if you think that your line is clean, secure it with masking tape before you take off the spool from your gear. Your line will most likely stick and tangle between the spool and the frame if you do not carry out either of the procedures.
  2. Untighten the drag knob and remove your spool from the reel
  3. Wash the spool under some pressure using a hose or running water. Doing this helps to get rid of gunk and salt deposits.
  4. Apply an all-purpose boat cleaner on the spool and scrub using a small paintbrush or a toothbrush. You can also use warm, soapy water if you do not have a boat cleaner.
  5. Rinse the spool thoroughly with running water.
  6. Dry the spool properly using a clean piece of cloth or clean rags.
  7. Oil your spool, focusing on your handle knobs, bail arm springs, and line rollers. You should also not forget to oil the folding handle.
  8. Wipe off excess lubricant before you take the spool back into the reel for re-spooling.


Step 4- Clean The Line

While the line is often the easiest to clean, many people find cleaning it hectic because it involves unspooling it and re-spooling it once you are through. If you decide to clean your fishing line, strip it off from the spool and sponge it with a detergent of your choice. Wipe it off with clean water and dry it.

Do not spill any lubricants on your line.

Step 5- Clean The Rod

The rod is another fishing gear component that requires cleaning. It is what you hold during fishing and will most likely have a buildup of dirt and debris.

The steps for cleaning up a fishing rod include;

  1. Check the rod and the guides for damage.
  2. Wash the rod with fresh running water. Do not be too rough as you will probably interfere with the guides, which may mean purchasing a new fishing rod.
  3. Please pay more attention to the grips or handles and ensure you clean them thoroughly. If there is any stubborn, use warm, mild soapy water to clear handle it.
  4. Rinse the rod clean and use a clean piece of cloth to wipe it dry.
  5. Re-inspect the guides and the rod for cracks or any damage. You can replace damaged guides as this will break your line.

Step 6- Clean The Lures

Many people clean their fishing gear but ignore the lures. Indeed, this should not be the case. Of all the fishing gear you will use as an angler, lures and terminal tackles sustain the harshest conditions. And since you do not want to end up with rusty hooks, cleaning your lures during routine fishing gear cleaning is necessary.

You can conveniently wash your lures in warm, mild soapy water. While you can use any detergent of choice, ensure that you do not use detergents that can disturb fish when you go fishing. A lemon-scented detergent is a good bet.

You need to be careful through the process and use a toothbrush for any scrubbing purposes. Do not use sponges. Finally, wipe your lures with a clean rag and store them appropriately.


Step 7- Reassemble Your Fishing Gear

We bet that you can easily set up a fishing reel all by yourself. Therefore, once you are certain about the cleanliness and the condition of every component, you can reassemble your gear.

Besides, depending on whether you want to go for a fishing outing or net, you can reattach or just store the fishing rod and reel.


Top 5 Fishing Gear Maintenance Tips

Of course, cleaning your reel is one of the most incredible services you can give to your reel. But cleaning alone is not enough. Periodically, you need to provide the right maintenance measures for your reel.

The following tips should assist;

  • Always open the side plate from time to time and grease the bearings and gears. While this should happen as frequently as you fish, you can also do this even after keeping your reel for a long time.
  • Ensure that you service your reel every twelve months. Servicing a reel is quite complex and may require the services of an experienced angler. However, you can always learn this with time.
  • In case your reel accidentally gets dipped in salty water, submerge it in freshwater as many times as possible to remove the most possibly removable salt from your reel. You may also need to disassemble the reel as soon as possible and wipe it.
  • Periodically check your reels and rod for damage from time to time.
  • Treat your hooks and other metallic parts to prevent rust. While oiling helps, special treatment methods are available for those living in humid areas.
  • Do not soak your reel. Soaking exposes your gear to excess moisture, which could get into the gear system and damage the gears in the long run.
  • Store your fishing rod and fishing gear appropriately.

Final Words

Irrespective of the type of fishing reel in your possession, cleaning and maintaining your fishing gear is important for its durability and performance. We have highlighted the crucial steps on how clean a fishing reel. Hopefully, you will find the article useful and a good step towards maintaining your fishing reel.

The trick is to follow the tips as they are and use the right tools and materials. Kindly never use lighter fluid, gasoline, or similar products when cleaning your fishing reel, as they can destroy your line and melt plastic parts. Finally, always ensure that you have the best fishing reel for your target fish species.