How to Clean a Fishing Reel?

Proper maintenance prolongs the lifespan of anything and everything. When you take care of yourself, eat healthy food, exercise, the chances are way higher of you living a healthy long life. That rule is universal and applies to every living being and usable thing.

Hence, in the case of a fishing reel, proper maintenance is the key for the reel to ensure optimum performance every time you cast in.

Moreover, it will last you more than you thought. Notice, we have mentioned ‘proper’ before the word maintenance. That means there is a specific, right way to clean a fishing reel. Therefore, we will talk about that ‘proper’ way of how to clean a fishing reel here.

How To Clean A Fishing Reel by 10 Simple Steps

Step #1 – Rinse Your Reel with Plain Water

Make it a mandatory rule, especially when you are into saltwater fishing. Saltwater is extremely corrosive, so it is a must for you to remove all the saltwater from your reel. The good part is just when you are done saltwater fishing, if you immediately rinse it with water thoroughly, the saltwater will be cleaned and removed. You will not need any extra product for cleaning the reel other than normal water.

Make sure you wash the reel spraying the water lightly, avoid extreme water pressure like jet spray. It will take the salt and dirt deep into the crevices due to the water pressure. Better is to soak a towel and wipe the outer surface well. People tend to avoid rinsing the reel after freshwater fishing as it is normal water mostly. However, to stay on the safe side, you can wipe it with the soaked towel, even after freshwater fishing as well.

Step #2 – Dry the Reel Well Before You Clean Its Parts

Here how it goes, you clean your fishing reel after every use. So, most of the time, it stays wet. Ensure you wipe the reel dry with a clean towel as thoroughly as possible; every time you rinse it. When the reel is wet, even damp, do not try to take it apart for cleaning. Let it dry for at least 1-2 days before you attempt to clean all its parts, one by one. We have talked about thoroughly drying the reel with a towel or cloth.

How To Clean A Fishing Reel
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The thing is, the fishing reel has so many crevices and corners that no matter how thorough and precise you are in drying it, it will stay damp in many parts. So, better you air dry it well. That is why it is always better to own two-three fishing reels so that you can alternatively use them when needed.

Step #3 – Brush Off the Corrosion Well

If you see any corrosion on the reel, make sure to rub it off with a clean toothbrush and then wipe the reel with a dry towel. Corrosion will stem up in two cases. One, if the material is not of high-quality, or two if you have not cleaned the reel for too long. The reel material will be corrosion resistant if you are buying a good one, and corrosion will not stem up if you ensure frequent cleaning of the reel.

Let us make it clear that we don’t really prefer removing the parts of the reel. Because no matter what anyone says, once you have taken the parts apart and try to re-screw them, it’s never the same. The intactness is gone. So, unless the reel is giving you too much distress, do not remove its parts. The following steps are what you do once in a long while or through professionals.

Step #4- Unscrew the Handle and Clean

To remove the handle, you have to rotate it counterclockwise, and it will come off from the main body. Now take a cotton bud and clean the collar and other crevices of the handle to remove any dirt and dust from it.

Step #5 – Remove the Spool and Clean

To remove the spool, you will have to remove the adjustment knob first and, if needed, unscrew the screws around. The spool portion comes out pretty easily. Now use the cotton bud carefully around the spool to remove dirt. There will be a few hollows to clean inside the spool. Clean the portion where the fishing line is coiled up with tissue paper. And you are mostly done with cleaning the spool.

Step #6- Clean and Grease the Drag Mechanism Adjustment Knob

After you have removed the drag knob cap, you will mostly see a greased portion. If it is well greased, you know it’s fine. Inspect it well, and remove dirt if needed. If you notice it requires greasing, apply a high-quality grease dipping a cotton bud in it, and then apply the grease well in the inner portion as well as the inside of the cap.

Step #7 – Thoroughly Clean the Rotor

When you have removed the spool, you exposed one side of the rotor. It’s plain simple, with gear, washer, center pin, and other stuff well-assembled, so clean it normally, with just a cotton bud. Now, if you need to clean the inside of the rotor unscrewing all those little gears and washers, do it very carefully. Use the right tools that fit the gears to unscrew them. And here is the thing, to clean the rotor from inside, you will have to take apart the main body. We are coming to that a little later.

Step #8 – Inspect the Bail Arm

Before you get into cleaning the main body, then the rotor, inspect the bail arm by opening and closing it. If it’s clicking well, then you know it’s well-greased. Remove the screws near to clean it from inside, if not. Nothing alien is there other than some screws. Remove those screws and grease the portions that require greasing.

Step #9 – Unscrew the Body and Clean

There will be several screws on the main body, remove them, and you will notice a well-greased or not so greased inner portion with several gears. We prefer not to touch them haphazardly to clean, let alone unscrewing. But if you need to, then do it with proper tools, and when you remove them one by one, that will automatically take apart the different portion of the rotor. So, clean these gears, washers, bearings, pins with tissue paper thoroughly and screw them well, very carefully, after properly greasing every single one of those with cotton buds.

Step #10 – Grease the Handle Well

As the last step, we mostly forget to grease the handle. So, dip the screw on the handle collar to grease it and install it on the slot. Clean up the grease on the outer surface with tissue paper and then spray any lubricating protectant on a towel and wipe the reel with it. Then leave the reel like that for at least a few hours, unused. Better not to use it for a day or two.

Final Words

You have given proof of immense patience if you have successfully taken apart every single component of the fishing reel, cleaned them, greased them, and again screwed them properly. It surely will ensure your reel has a longer lifespan and the ability to perform smoothly for years.

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