How to Clean a Fishing Reel

To clean a fishing reel, follow these steps: 1. Disassemble the reel and remove any dirt or debris.

2. Clean the reel with a mild soap and water solution, using a soft cloth or brush to scrub away grime. Fishing is a popular outdoor activity that requires regular maintenance of equipment for optimal performance. One essential part of fishing gear is the fishing reel, which can accumulate dirt, sand, and other particles over time.

Proper cleaning of the fishing reel is crucial to ensure smooth operation and prolong its lifespan. We will discuss the step-by-step process to clean a fishing reel effectively. By following these instructions, you will be able to remove dirt, grease, and corrosion, helping your reel function at its best and ensuring an enjoyable fishing experience. So, let’s dive into the details of cleaning a fishing reel the right way.

The Importance Of Cleaning A Fishing Reel

Cleaning a fishing reel is essential for maintaining its performance. Learn how to properly clean and maintain your fishing reel to ensure smooth operation and extend its lifespan.

Dirt, debris, and saltwater accumulation can affect reel performance, potentially leading to issues such as decreased casting distance, reduced drag functionality, and overall decreased efficiency. Regularly cleaning your fishing reel is essential to maintain its optimal performance and extend its lifespan.

Cleaning your reel not only ensures smooth operation but also helps prevent premature wear and tear. In this section, we will explore the importance of cleaning a fishing reel, highlighting the specific impacts that dirt, debris, and saltwater can have on its performance.


  • Accumulation of dirt can cause the reel’s gears to become clogged or jammed, affecting its smoothness and functionality.
  • Dirt particles can infiltrate the reel’s bearings, leading to increased friction and potential damage.
  • Neglecting to clean dirt can result in corrosion and rust, further compromising the reel’s performance.


  • Debris, such as weeds, grass, or fishing line remnants, can get tangled in the reel’s moving parts, hindering its smooth operation.
  • The buildup of debris can impede the reel’s drag system, making it less effective in controlling the line tension.
  • Debris can also take a toll on the overall balance and stability of the reel, affecting your ability to cast and retrieve with ease.

Saltwater Accumulation:

  • Saltwater contains corrosive elements that, if left unattended, can gradually damage the reel’s components.
  • The accumulation of saltwater residue can lead to the development of rust and corrosion, compromising the reel’s overall performance and lifespan.
  • Regular cleaning after saltwater fishing trips is crucial to remove the saltwater deposits and prevent long-term damage.

Taking the time to clean your fishing reel after each use or periodically, depending on your fishing frequency, is an investment in its longevity and performance. By removing dirt, debris, and saltwater accumulation, you can ensure that your reel operates optimally, allowing you to enjoy a smooth and efficient fishing experience every time.

Necessary Tools For Cleaning A Fishing Reel

Cleaning a fishing reel is essential for its maintenance. To ensure a successful cleaning process, you’ll need tools such as a soft brush, toothpicks, a microfiber cloth, lubricant, and a reel cleaner solution.

Cleaning your fishing reel regularly is essential to maintain its performance and prolong its lifespan. To effectively clean your fishing reel, you will need the following tools:

  • Soft-bristle brush: A soft-bristle brush is a must-have tool for cleaning a fishing reel. It helps remove dirt, debris, and salt deposits from hard-to-reach areas without causing any damage. Gently brushing the exterior and interior parts of your reel removes any buildup and ensures smooth operation.
  • Fishing reel cleaning kit: Investing in a fishing reel cleaning kit is highly recommended. These kits typically include specialized tools like brushes, swabs, and cleaning solutions designed specifically for reel maintenance. They provide a comprehensive solution to thoroughly clean and maintain your fishing reel.
  • Microfiber cloth: A high-quality microfiber cloth is perfect for drying and polishing your fishing reel after cleaning. This type of cloth is gentle on the reel’s delicate surfaces and leaves no lint behind. It efficiently absorbs moisture and helps prevent rust or corrosion.
  • Reel lubricant: Applying reel lubricant is crucial to keep all moving parts of your fishing reel in optimal condition. The lubricant reduces friction, protects against wear and tear, and ensures smooth performance. Choose a compatible reel lubricant that suits the specific needs of your reel.
  • Screwdriver set: A good screwdriver set is essential for disassembling and reassembling your fishing reel during the cleaning process. Different parts of the reel may need to be accessed for thorough cleaning and maintenance. Having a reliable screwdriver set with different head types ensures you have the necessary tools to handle any screws or fasteners.

By utilizing these necessary tools, you can effectively clean and maintain your fishing reel, enhancing its performance and durability. Regular cleaning ensures that your reel functions optimally when out on your fishing adventures and avoids any potential malfunctions caused by dirt or debris buildup.

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Clean A Fishing Reel

Learn how to clean your fishing reel with this step-by-step guide. Keep your reel in top shape for optimal performance on your next fishing adventure.

Cleaning your fishing reel is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. Over time, dirt, salt, sand, and debris can accumulate, affecting its smooth operation. Fortunately, with a step-by-step cleaning process, you can easily maintain your fishing reel. Follow these instructions to clean your fishing reel effectively:

Disassembling The Reel

  • Start by removing the handle and spool from the reel. These components are usually detachable and can be easily taken off by unscrewing or releasing the locking mechanism.
  • Proceed to take apart the reel body and side plates. Carefully remove any screws or fasteners holding the reel together, keeping track of their location to aid in reassembling later.

Cleaning The Reel Components

  • Begin by removing dirt and debris from the reel components. Use a soft-bristle brush to gently brush away any loose particles, ensuring all areas are thoroughly cleaned.
  • Pay special attention to the gears and bearings, as these can accumulate dirt and grime. Use a soft-bristle brush to clean these areas and ensure smooth movement.

Rinsing The Reel Under Freshwater

  • To remove salt and sand, rinse the reel under a gentle stream of freshwater. Be cautious not to use excessive water pressure, as it may damage internal components or seals.
  • Ensure that the reel is rinsed thoroughly, removing all traces of salt and sand.

Cleaning And Lubricating The Spool And Drag

  • Remove the spool and clean it using a microfiber cloth. Wipe away any dirt and residue, ensuring the spool is completely clean.
  • Apply a small amount of reel lubricant to the spool and drag system. This helps maintain smooth operation and reduces friction during use.

Cleaning The Reel Body And Side Plates

  • Wipe down the exterior of the reel using a microfiber cloth. This helps remove any dirt or excess lubricant, leaving the reel looking clean and tidy.
  • For stubborn stains or marks, use a reel cleaning solution. Apply a small amount to a cloth and gently rub the affected areas until the stains are gone.

Reassembling The Reel

  • Return the side plates and reel body to their original positions, ensuring all screws or fasteners are securely tightened.
  • Reattach the handle and spool, making sure they are properly aligned and firmly secured.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can ensure that your fishing reel remains clean and in optimal condition. Regular maintenance and cleaning will help extend its lifespan and ensure smooth operation during your fishing adventures. Happy fishing!

How To Clean A Fishing Reel


Maintaining Your Fishing Reel For Longevity

Properly maintaining your fishing reel is essential for ensuring its longevity. Learn how to clean your fishing reel to keep it in optimal condition for your future fishing adventures.

Cleaning and maintaining your fishing reel is essential to ensure it performs optimally and lasts for a long time. Regular maintenance not only prolongs its lifespan but also enhances its overall performance. By following a few simple steps, you can keep your fishing reel in top condition and ready for action whenever you hit the water.

Here are some key points to consider:

Regular Cleaning And Maintenance Schedule:

  • Inspect your reel: Before each fishing trip, take a moment to inspect your reel for any signs of damage, such as loose screws, dirt, or debris. This quick check will help you catch any issues before they become major problems.
  • Clean after each use: After a fishing outing, it’s important to clean your reel thoroughly. Use a soft brush or toothbrush to remove dirt, sand, or saltwater residue. Gently wipe down the reel with a damp cloth and make sure to dry it completely before storage.
  • Lubricate the moving parts: Lubricating your reel’s moving parts is crucial for smooth operation. Apply a small amount of specialized reel oil to the gears, bearings, and handle. This will reduce friction and ensure optimal performance.
  • Check the line: Inspect the fishing line for any signs of wear or damage. Replace it if needed to prevent any unexpected breaks or failures during your next fishing trip.
  • Handle with care: Avoid dropping or banging your reel, as this can cause internal components to loosen or break. Always handle it with care and store it properly when not in use.

Storing The Reel Properly:

  • Choose a cool and dry place: Store your fishing reel in a cool and dry environment. Moisture and extreme temperatures can damage its inner workings and lead to rust or corrosion.
  • Keep it covered: If possible, store your reel in a protective case or reel cover. This will shield it from dust, dirt, and potential impacts, ensuring its longevity.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can damage the reel’s materials, causing them to deteriorate over time. Store it away from direct sunlight to prevent any unnecessary wear and tear.
  • Maintain proper tension: When storing your reel for an extended period, make sure to loosen the drag or tension adjustment. This will prevent constant pressure on the drag washers, ensuring their durability and longevity.
  • Perform regular maintenance: Even when your fishing reel is not in use, it’s important to perform regular maintenance. Periodically check for any signs of damage, clean it, and lubricate the moving parts to keep it in optimal condition.

Remember, a well-maintained fishing reel will not only improve your fishing experience but also extend its lifespan. By following these simple yet effective cleaning and maintenance tips, you’ll ensure that your reel performs at its best for many fishing adventures to come.

Happy fishing!

Tips For Troubleshooting And Common Issues

Discover useful tips and troubleshooting techniques for cleaning a fishing reel. Learn how to tackle common issues and keep your reel in top shape for your next fishing adventure.

If you’re an avid angler, you know the importance of keeping your fishing gear in top shape. One key component that often requires maintenance is the fishing reel. Over time, reels can become stiff or develop rust and corrosion, hindering their performance.

In this section, we’ll discuss some valuable tips for troubleshooting and resolving common issues with your fishing reel.

Identifying And Resolving Reel Stiffness

Reel stiffness can greatly affect your fishing experience, making it difficult to cast and retrieve smoothly. If you’re experiencing this issue, consider the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Check for dirt or debris: Over time, dirt and grime can accumulate on the reel, leading to stiffness. Carefully inspect the reel, paying attention to areas such as the bail, spool, and handle for any debris.
  • Clean the reel: Use a gentle reel cleaner or mild soap mixed with water to clean the reel thoroughly. Ensure all components are properly dried before reassembling the reel.
  • Lubricate the reel: Applying a small amount of reel oil to the moving parts can alleviate stiffness. Be cautious not to over-oil, as it may attract dirt and cause further issues.
  • Replace worn parts: If the reel continues to be stiff after cleaning and lubrication, it may require replacement of worn parts. Consult the reel’s user manual or seek professional help for proper maintenance.

Dealing With Rust And Corrosion On The Reel Parts

Rust and corrosion can greatly affect the performance and lifespan of your fishing reel. If you spot any signs of rust or corrosion, follow these steps to address the issue:

  • Clean the affected parts: Gently scrub the rusted areas with a mixture of baking soda and water or vinegar. Use a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush to remove the rust without damaging the reel.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly: After cleaning, rinse the reel with fresh water and ensure it is completely dry before proceeding.
  • Apply a rust inhibitor: Once the reel is dry, apply a rust inhibitor or corrosion-resistant lubricant to the affected areas. This will help prevent future rust and corrosion.
  • Regular maintenance: To avoid future rust and corrosion, make it a habit to clean and lubricate your reel after each use, especially if you fish in saltwater or corrosive environments.

By following these troubleshooting tips, you can effectively address reel stiffness and deal with rust and corrosion on your fishing reel. Remember, regular maintenance and proper care are essential for ensuring optimal performance and longevity of your gear. So, keep your reel in tip-top shape, and happy fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Clean A Fishing Reel

What Is The Best Thing To Clean Fishing Reels With?

The best thing to clean fishing reels with is a reel cleaner specifically designed for fishing equipment.

How Do You Clean A Fishing Reel After Use?

To clean a fishing reel after use, follow these steps: 1. Start by rinsing the reel with fresh water to remove salt, dirt, and debris. 2. Gently wipe the reel using a soft cloth to eliminate any remaining dirt or grime.

3. Pay close attention to the line guide, drag system, and handle while cleaning. 4. Lubricate the reel with a small amount of reel oil to ensure smooth operation.

How Do You Clean And Lubricate A Fishing Reel?

To clean and lubricate a fishing reel, follow these steps: 1. Remove any dirt or debris from the reel using a soft brush or cloth. 2. Disassemble the reel carefully, noting the placement of each part. 3. Clean the parts with a mild detergent and warm water.

4. Dry the parts thoroughly and apply a reel lubricant to the gears and moving parts. 5. Reassemble the reel, ensuring all parts are properly aligned. 6. Test the reel to ensure smooth operation before using it again.

Is Wd-40 Safe For Fishing Reels?

Yes, WD-40 is safe for fishing reels and can help to prevent rust and lubricate moving parts.


Maintaining a clean fishing reel is essential for its longevity and optimal performance on the water. Regular cleaning not only helps prevent corrosion, rust, and dirt buildup, but also ensures smooth operation and prolongs the lifespan of your reel. By following the step-by-step cleaning process outlined in this blog post, you can easily and effectively clean your fishing reel at home.

Remember to gather the necessary tools, inspect the reel for any damages or loose parts, and carefully remove dirt and debris. Lubricating the reel is equally important, as it helps reduce friction and ensures seamless reeling. By dedicating a little time and effort to cleaning your fishing reel, you will be rewarded with a reel that operates smoothly and lasts for many fishing trips to come.

So don’t wait any longer, start taking care of your reel today and enjoy a more successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

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