How to Clean Fishing Reels

How to Clean Fishing Reels
Fishing reels have undergone numerous changes with regard to design and materials. Modern reels utilize aluminum alloys, titanium and high-strength steels. However, dirt, mud, salt and sand haven't changed--which, throughout the years, have damaged numerous reels to the point of being unusable. Fortunately, you need only spend a few minutes periodically cleaning and lubricating your reels to ensure their continued service.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rags Cotton tip applicator Soft bristle brush Multipurpose oil Synthetic motor oil
  • Rags
  • Cotton tip applicator
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Multipurpose oil
  • Synthetic motor oil
Step 1
Organize your cleaning supplies. Spread a clean rag on the work surface--for protection and to provide a secure place to hold small screws and parts. You'll also need adequate lighting to help with the removal of small parts, and to inspect the inner workings of the reel. You should also remove any old fishing line which is still on the reel, and discard it properly.
Step 2
Thoroughly wipe down the entire exterior of the reel with a damp cloth. Work the rag into as many small areas as possible. The goal is to remove as much dust, mud or debris as possible in this step. For more stubborn areas or for small tight places the rag will not fit, use a soft bristle brush to remove debris.
Step 3
Remove the spool from the reel. Depending on the type of reel--spinning, casting or fly--this will typically involve removing a retaining screw. Refer to your owner's manual for specific details. With the spool removed, thoroughly clean the entire surface, paying special attention to the forward portion of the spool. This is typically the point where debris--which is picked up by the line--is deposited and accumulates. This may require some scrubbing and use of the brush. Also clean any gears or parts accessible at this point in conjunction with the spool.
Step 4
Remove the handle from the reel. Again, depending on the type of reel, this process may vary from simply turning the handle in the opposite direction to removing a retaining screw. Refer to your owner's manual for specifics. Once the handle is removed, use a cotton tip applicator to remove debris from the opening in the reel body. Also wipe away debris from the threads on the reel handle. Apply a thin coating of synthetic oil to the threads.
Step 5
Access the gears of the reel. With fly reels, any gears will be exposed with the removal of the spool. Spinning and casting reels will usually require the removal of screws to access the inner workings. Once you have access, use a cotton tip applicator to dab and remove debris and accumulations of old grease and oil. Also inspect the gears and works for wear and any damage. Apply a thin coating of synthetic oil and reassemble.
Step 6
Reassemble the reel, ensuring all parts are used. Spray a light coat of multipurpose oil over the entire reel. With a clean cloth, wipe down the reel to work the oil into all of the parts. This will also remove excess oil from the reel. This final coating will help to prevent rust from forming and provide an extra layer of protection from the elements during fishing.

Tips & Warnings

Reels used in salt water fishing must be rinsed with water following each outing. Spray the reel thoroughly with multipurpose oil to inhibit rust formation. You'll also need to clean and re-lubricate the gears and spool gears much more often due to the rinsing.
Any lubricants should be used in a properly ventilated space and away from open flames.

Article Written By Tara Dooley

Tara Dooley has written for various websites since 2008. She has worked as an accountant, after-school director and retail manager in various locations. Dooley holds a Bachelor of Science in business management and finance.

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