How to Clean Fishing Reels – Step by Step Guideline for Beginners

Maintaining your fishing reels is a two-part process. First, there’s light cleaning to be done whenever you get home from a fishing trip. Secondly, there are the more heavy-duty deep cleans of your fishing reels. Your fishing reel cleaning schedule will vary depending on whether or not you fish in freshwater or saltwater. Because saltwater fishing has a higher water salinity. You’ll need to clean your fishing reels more often to prevent salt buildup.

Fishing Reel Maintenance After a Fishing Trip

Depending on the wear and tear on your reel, you may be able to get away with just rinsing it with fresh water from a hose and allowing it to air dry. Using a light amount of oil, you can lightly lubricate any or all the moving parts. This is to ensure everything is working as smoothly as it should. However, if your reel submerged for long periods of time under the water or you notice dirt and grime buildup. You may need to either take it to a repair shop or learn how to deep clean it yourself by taking apart all of the pieces of your reel and cleaning them individually.

Deep Cleaning Fishing Reels

Before you dive into taking apart and cleaning your own reels, make sure you’re comfortable with the steps involved in disassembling and reassembling your fishing reels. Set up a light-colored towel or fabric to place the pieces on so that you don’t lose any small parts, and hold the reel in one hand while you take it apart with the other. Try and use the same process backward and forward when it comes to assembling and disassembling so that you can create a routine you can easily repeat. If the dirt and debris buildup is light, you may be able to get away with some simple detailing: take apart your reel and use a toothbrush and some dish detergent to gently clean and remove any dirt.

Types of reels: a spin cast reel, a spinning wheel, and a bait-cast wheel.

The best way to get acquainted with the cleaning procedures for these different types of reels is to watch YouTube videos and follow the steps exactly as you see them on-screen: you don’t want to break your fishing reel or lose parts when you’re trying to clean it.

Tools for Cleaning Fishing Reels

You’ll need two small screwdrivers (a slot-head and a Philips’ head), a toothbrush, tweezers, oil if necessary, and sometimes grease or other cleaning solutions (like detergent) depending on how deep you’re cleaning and what dirt and debris you’re trying to remove from your fishing reels. Use grease for cleaning the bottom of the teeth, and lighter fluid for things like oil bearings.

Do your homework on exactly what you’re looking to clean, and pick your poison when it comes to figuring out how to remove various residues and other forms of buildup. In the process of assembly/disassembly, your best guide is going to be the manufacturer’s guide to your reel. That way, if you misplace a piece, you’ll be able to look up exactly what you’re missing. Lightly cleaning your reels after every trip will help prevent buildup and lead to less deep cleans in the long run. Keep your gear in tip-top shape so you’re always ready to reel in that special catch!