How to Clean a Reel After Saltwater Fishing

How to Clean a Reel After Saltwater Fishing
Saltwater fishing can be a thrilling and memorable experience for people of all ages. From a charter boat in the Gulf stream to a Pacific coast pier, the combination of potentially large game fish and wide expanses of water is a recipe for fun. The gear used in saltwater fishing is typically designed to be durable and may often times be expensive. Proper maintenance is necessary to protect your investment and ensure its continued proper operation.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Water
  • Running water (sink or hose)
  • Rag
  • Small- to medium-size container
  • Cotton tip applicator
  • Reel lubricant
Step 1
Fill a small- to medium-size container with fresh water. Remove the spool from the saltwater reel, and place it in the water to soak. Leave the line on the reel if it is not excessively worn. Remove old or worn lines, and place them in a recycling container before soaking the reel.
Step 2
Thoroughly rinse all fishing gear and especially fishing reels after saltwater fishing. Place the reel in a sink or rinse thoroughly under running water. Also consider using a garden hose, and direct the flow of water onto the reel, making sure to completely rinse all exterior surfaces.
Step 3
Thoroughly dry the reel with a clean rag. Get into as many small spaces as possible. Use a cotton tip applicator to absorb water in hard-to-reach areas.
Step 4
Apply a thin coating of reel lubricant to the entire reel. Pay special attention to contact points of moving parts. The oil will help to displace any remaining moisture and provide a protective barrier on the surface of the reel.
Step 5
Remove the spool from the water soak and dry thoroughly. Apply reel oil to the surface of the spool for protection. If the line is left on the spool while soaking, shake as much water from the line as possible before attaching the spool to the reel.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure to remove as much water as possible following the cleaning.
The thin coating of lubricant is essential, especially if the reel may be stored for a period of time before using again.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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