Rod and Reel Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining  your rod and reel after every use will ensure you get the most life and enjoyment out of your fishing equipment.

The following steps should only take about ten minutes but can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Step 1 – Clean the Reel

Washing reelRinsing the reel

  • Tighten the drag on the reel to prevent water contamination of the drag stack and lightly sponge with warm, soapy water. Never immerse the reel in water or wash it under high pressure as this can force water into the gearing and drag systems and cause damage.
  • Drying the reel
  • Rinse the reel off gently with fresh water and wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  • It is a good idea to wipe the line clean as well. If you wish, you can remove the spool and wash it individually under fresh, running water to remove any salt or gunk from under the spool and the top of the reel rotor.
  • To finish, spray some lubricating protectant onto a clean cloth and wipe over the reel being careful not to wipe the line as some products may cause it to deteriorate.
Spraying clothProtecting the reel

Step 2 – Clean the Spool

Removing the spoolCleaning the spool

  • Undo the drag knob and slide the spool off the reel.
  • Clean the underside of the spool.
  • Lightly grease the main shaft before replacing the spool and drag knob.
  • The drag knob should be left loose to keep pressure off the drag washers while the reel is not in use.
  • Lightly oil the handle knobs, line rollers, bail arm springs and folding handle using high grade reel oil or silmilar, then wipe off any excess.
Oiling the handle

Step 3 – Clean the Rod

Rinsing the rodWashing the handle

  • Wash rod down with fresh water, paying special attention to the guides.
  • Wash grips carefully. Warm, soapy water can be used to remove stubborn dirt.
  • Use a light reel grease on rod guides to prevent corrosion.
  • Check all guides for damage and replace any damaged guides immediately. Damaged or cracked guides will cause fishing line to break so be sure to check guides thoroughly.

Periodical Maintenance:

  • Periodically open the side plate and lightly grease the gears and bearings. The more often you fish, the more frequently you will need to do this.
  • Reels should be serviced once every twelve months or so depending on use. It is possible to service reels yourself however if you are not confident in doing so, it’s best to take them to a professional to do the job.


  • If your reel gets submerged in salt water, re-submerge it in fresh water several times to try and remove as much salt as possible. The reel will need to be stripped down and fully serviced as soon as possible to avoid corrosion of the internal and external parts.
  • While you are cleaning your rod and reel it is a good time to check the line and guides for damage and replace if necessary.