How to Clean a Baitcasting Reel

How to Clean a Baitcasting Reel
Baitcasting reels are favored among many fishermen for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The ability to more precisely control the line and lure makes baitcasters popular reels. However, as with any fishing equipment, it is necessary to properly maintain baitcasters to ensure their proper operation. Routine cleaning is perhaps the easiest way to prolong the life of your reel and make sure that it is ready to go for the next fishing adventure.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Soapy water
  • Clean cloth
  • Mild degreaser
  • Reel oil
  • Blade or Phillips screwdriver
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton swab
Step 1
Mix a solution of mild soap and water in a container. Thoroughly wipe the outside of your baitcast reel with a cloth and the solution. Remove any debris including pond scum, algae, dirt or mud from the body of the reel and spool. Often debris will be transferred from the line as it is retrieved.
Step 2
Remove the spool from the reel. Open the side of the reel body to access the spool assembly. Remove the spool and look for signs of damage such as nicks, small cracks or other damage. Remove the line from the reel and place in the soapy water solution to soak.
Step 3
Clean the interior of the reel housing with a cotton swab and soapy water. Use an old toothbrush to remove any stubborn accumulations of debris. Pay attention to any exposed gearing or moving parts associated with the spool. Use a mild degreaser to remove old grease or oil. Wipe the area with a damp rag to remove soap or degreaser and lubricate moving parts with reel oil.
Step 4
Remove the spool from the soapy water, rinse thoroughly and place back into the reel. Close the side access and make sure it is securely latched in place.
Step 5
Remove the handle from the body of the reel. The handle may be removed by turning counterclockwise. Thorougly wipe down the handle with soapy water and rinse clean. Use a cotton swab to clean in and around the handle-mounting area on the body of the reel. Use a small amount of degreaser if necessary to remove old oil or grease. Lubricate the handle mounting point with reel oil and assemble the handle back to the reel.
Step 6
Wipe down the entire surface of the reel with a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture. Apply a thin film of reel oil to help displace moisture and provide a protective barrier. This is especially important if the reel will be stored for a period before use again.

Tips & Warnings

Remove as much moisture as possible before storing the reel.
Use a quality reel oil. Some manufacturers have specific recommendations for oil.

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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