How to Clean a Fly Fishing Rod

How to Clean a Fly Fishing Rod
Cleaning a fly fishing rod is important to not only maintain the appearance of your fly fishing rod, but to help ensure the longevity of the rod. As a quality fly rod can easily cost into the hundreds of dollars, the amount of time required to clean a rod is certainly worth the effort. With a few easily assembled items and a little time, your valuable investment will continue to serve you well through many fishing adventures.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod Clean cloths Water Low abrasive cleaner Metal polish Small soft bristle brush Rubbing alcohol
  • Fly rod
  • Clean cloths
  • Water
  • Low abrasive cleaner
  • Metal polish
  • Small soft bristle brush
  • Rubbing alcohol
Step 1
Begin by gathering your cleaning supplies. You will need several clean cloths and a low abrasive cleaner, such as Soft Scrub brand cleanser. You will also need a source of water either in a bowl or running along with a soft bristle brush. For cleaning metal surfaces, such as reel seats and rings, a metal cleaner or polishing paste will work. Avoid contacting metal reel seat parts and rings with the cleaner as this may create swirls or scratches.
Step 2
Start with the cork handle of the rod. Slightly wet the cork grip and then apply a small amount of the low abrasive cleaner to a damp cloth. Work the cleaner into the grip paying attention to any stubborn stains. Finish by lightly rinsing the grip under running water or by wiping down with a saturated cloth. Dry thoroughly with a dry, clean cloth.
Step 3
Move to the guides of the rod. Using the soft bristle brush, remove as much build up and debris as possible. With a wet cloth gently rub the guides to remove any remaining debris or dirt. Finish by drying with a dry cloth. This is also a good time to inspect the guides for wear and tear. Excessive wear will affect the performance of even the finest fly lines and should be replaced if necessary.
Step 4
The next step is to clean the rod itself. Often over looked in the cleaning process, cleaning the rod will not only result in maintaining the look of the rod but also help to remove dirt and debris which may, over time, diminish the performance of the rod. Use a damp cloth, with only water, and thoroughly wipe down the rod and then dry with a soft cloth. The final step is to wipe down the rod with a polish, such a Pledge, which will provide a thin layer of protection.
Step 5
Understand that the metal reel seat and rings may be cleaned by applying a small amount of metal polish on a soft clean cloth and detailing the metal paying attention to any stains. Following the metal cleaner directions, finish by removing excess and buffing dry. Avoid getting any of the polishing paste on the cork grip or rod itself.
Step 6
Finally, the ferrule or connecting point where sectional rods are put together will need to be cleaned and lubricated. Using a damp cloth, thoroughly clean the ferrules at both the male and female ends with rubbing alcohol. It may be necessary to use the small brush to reach inside the female end of the connection. Dry the connection completely and apply a thin coating of white candle wax to the male ferrule.

Tips & Warnings

Take time to clean your fly rods periodically especially when excessive dirt or debris is visible. Take the opportunity to inspect the rod for damage or excessive wear during the cleaning and have any issues corrected by a professional rod repair service.
Use all cleaners in a well ventilated area. Avoid contact with your eyes by any of the products by wearing eye protection if necessary.

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.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.