How to Clean A Fishing Reel

Nowadays, fishing reels are made to last long as they perform their function. But still, proper upkeep can extend the lifespan of your fishing reel and help you save some coins. When you take care of your equipment, it will take care of you. With some easy to follow procedures, you can prevent corrosion and keep your bearings, reel body, and gears functioning as if they are new. In this post, I am going to show you how to clean a fishing reel.

But before delving into the basics of how to clean your fishing reel, it might be wise to learn some necessary cleaning and maintenance tricks. It may involve simple procedures such as rinsing the inside and outside of your fishing reel with fresh water and let it dry in the air.

After the quick rinse, lubricate the moving parts that are accessible with light oil. If you do this occasionally after a day out fishing, you will be better off than people who don’t do this regularly. Lubrication is essential if you always use your reel in saltwater or dirty conditions.

The importance of cleaning your fishing reel It is obvious you have to clean a fishing reel used in saltwater as corrosion will take place quickly. But what of a reel used in clean water? It is still vital as water and dirt over time can lead to corrosion of your ball bearings and gears. Left for long, corrosion can reduce the efficiency of your reel. Proper cleaning improves your fishing reel’s durability and effectiveness.

Degreasing, cleaning, and reapplying oil to the bearings and grease to the gears are going to prolong the lifetime of your fishing reel. Disassembling your fishing reel can be a challenge, especially if you are not mechanically - minded. Do not be afraid because many reels don’t require to be broken down to each piece for them to be cleaned.

The steps of disassembling a fishing reel might differ, depending on the type, but how to clean and the parts to clean remain the same.

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Tools to help you clean your fishing reel

You need tools to help you maintain and clean the fishing reels. These include

  • A Philips head screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Hemostats
  • Envira Gallery
    An old toothbrush for scrubbing gears
  • Envira Gallery
    Toothpicks for applying grease
  • Envira Gallery
    Oil and grease

In most cases, fishing reels come with their specific tools. Use either a light fluid or isopropyl rubbing alcohol to do the cleaning. Use cotton swabs to apply these fluids. Do not use oil and grease on every part because some parts of the reel can be negatively affected. Your manufacturer should give you clear instructions on how to maintain your reel, and what products to use for maintenance.

Types of Fishing reel and ways to clean them


Spin cast reel

The reel is a bit complicated to clean as most parts which are essential are under a cover. To clean the reel follow these simple steps

  • Remove the reel covers
  • Dismantle the spool, spinner head, center shaft, clutch ring, crank bearing, and any other part
  • Scrub the parts using an old toothbrush or a small paintbrush with dish-washing liquid
  • check
    Lubricate using the recommended light oil. If you are not sure about assembling or dismantling the reel, it is advisable to have a guiding manual or online video for reference

If you use your fishing reel on salty water, it is good to remove the salt remains since it can make the reel to bind when in use.

Just like sand or dirt, salt remains can lead to corrosion. If you are not comfortable with dismantling your fishing reel, don’t ignore the maintenance and cleaning, get in touch with your manufacturer or look for a local pro to help you.


Bait Casting Reel

Maintain this reel by making sure you wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Do regular maintenance by applying light oil on the spool shaft, handle rivets and the parts which come to contact with the pinion gear. If you fish in saltwater, it is good to remove the spool, soak it in water, and then have the entire body rinsed with water. As pointed before, make sure you remove the salt remains which may not be visible to the naked eyes. Dry excess water with a soft cloth and let it dry in open air.

Use a recommended reel maintenance oil for lubrication. Use oil on:

  • Handle knobs
  • Spool shafts
  • Ball bearings
  • check
    Stabilizer bar
  • check
    Spool release mechanism

Use grease on

  • Pinion Yoke
  • Main gear
  • Release slider
  • check
    Worm gear
  • check
    Pinion gear


Spinning Reel

This reel can be cleaned like the other reels. But, you should be able to assemble and disassemble for you to properly lubricate this open design reel. It is advisable to have a manual or an online video with you for reference whenever needed.

Apply oil on these parts:

  • Pickup pin
  • Handle knobs
  • Kick lever
  • check
    Arm Lever
  • check
    Ball bearings
  • check
    Clutch screw Grease better be used on
  • check
    Roller wheel
  • check
    Center shaft
  • check
    Crank gear
  • check
    Pickup arm
  • check
    Spool washer
  • check
  • check
    Spool release mechanism

When you decide to dismantle your reel, make sure you have a light - colored surface to place your parts. Place the pieces in the order of how you disassembled them for easier reassembly. It is also advisable to have a specification sheet with you or a computer that contains the schematics of your reel. You can as well number the parts you dismantle for easier reassembling. Conclusion It is nice to ensure your fishing gear works well.

If you fish in saltwater, don’t be satisfied when you merely hose down your reels and rods. It may help to remove some salt and dirt, but grit can get into the gears. It is advisable to use spray bottles. Take some time to wipe your reel using a moist cloth. Pay attention mainly to drive gear bearings.

Modern fishing reels can pose a challenge to maintain, clean, disassemble or assemble. They may contain small parts which may only require experts to handle them. But still, you can do some cleaning and maintenance, if you are careful. I hope this article on how to clean a fishing reel helps you to keep your reels clean.


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