Informational Guide

How To Clean A Baitcasting Reel

Our guide is here to help all anglers learn how to clean a baitcasting reel DIY.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

How To Clean A Baitcasting Reel

Our guide is here to help all anglers learn how to clean a baitcasting reel DIY.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Taking good care of your baitcaster is the key to ensuring that it will last a long time. If you do not clean off the reel and keep it lubricated, the parts are likely to rust and stop working at the exact moment you need them in the water. It is easy for an angler to learn how to clean a baitcasting reel, so there is no excuse for not getting it done.  

For those anglers who do not know how to clean their baitcaster, there are several steps they can use to get it done. Our guide is here to help all anglers learn how to clean a baitcasting reel to ensure it works for a long time to come.  

Anglers can choose from several agents to help clean their baitcaster and keep it in good shape. Some of the agents to consider include: 

  • Cleaning Solvents 
    There are several cleaning solvents the angler can choose that will help to make the reel look and feel better. Make sure to read the label. You do not want to pick out a cleaning solvent that is too harsh because this can damage the plastic parts of the fishing reel. You should pick out one that will dry on the reel without any residue being left behind.  
  • Reel Lubricants 
    Reel lubricants are a good choice to help clean the reel while also ensuring that none of the parts will get stuck when you need them the most. It is best for the angler to choose the specific lubricant that is sold by the manufacturing company for your reel. This makes it safer to use.  

Important Parts Of A Baitcaster That Requires Cleaning 

Anglers will need to take the time to clean all parts of their baitcaster. If they only focus on the main parts, they can miss out on components that need cleaning and lubricating. Some of the main parts to clean include: 


The drag system will make a difference between whether you land that big fish or have to leave it behind. After each trip, you may need to loosen the drags to make sure they do not stick. Then one or two times a year, you can crack open this part and wipe down the drag grease, adding in a bit more to keep it smooth.  

Anti-Reverse Bearing 

This is a component of the reel that you should not try to clean on your own. Do not add oil into this bearing either. If you are fishing and notice that the anti-reverse bearing seems off, then it is time to take the pole into a professional to have it looked over, rather than doing it yourself and breaking the reel.  


Most modern reels will have bearings that do not require much maintenance. However, if the angler notices that the reel is often sticking, this is a sign the bearings are off. The pinion bearings and the spool bearings are the most likely cause. You can remove the side plate here and then clean each part with some alcohol on a Q-tip. Add a drop of oil and close the reel up.

Pawl/Worm Gear 

It is best for the angler to leave these alone. Disassembling is easy, but it is hard to put it back together. You can use a bit of cleaning solvent and a toothbrush to help clean this off. Dry the area before adding a drop of oil, and it will be nice and lubricated for you to use later.  

Related Article: Baitcaster 101: Parts, How To Use, Set Up, Adjust + Tips

How To Clean A Baitcasting Reel: Guide To Cleaning & Lubricating

How To Deep Clean & Lubricate A Baitcasting Reel (DIY Tips) 

Now it is time to clean off your reel and make sure all the components are lubricated. To do this: 

1. Gather The Cleaning Tools 

To make the cleaning process more efficient, you should gather up all of the cleaning tools that you need from the beginning. This includes: 

  • All lubricants 
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • Degreaser or oil 
  • Q-tips or cotton swabs 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Dry towel 
  • Warm water with some soap 

2. Double-Cleaning 

With the supplies nearby, it is time to clean. The outer part of the fishing rod can be as dirty as the inside. Take the time to clean the outer cover with a dry towel or a toothbrush before you take it off.  

Remove the cover of the reel and take out the smooth. Wipe it down with some cotton and rubbing alcohol to ensure it is clean. Take the spool and line off the reel, and soak in warm water with some soap. These can sit in the water for a few minutes before drying them. Add some oil on its sides once it is dry.  

With those parts out, you can clean the inside of your reel. This can be done with a cotton swab or some Q-tips.  

3. Deep Cleansing 

Now it is time to do the deep cleaning. Take your Q-tip and dip it into some rubbing alcohol. Move this along the inside of the reel to get at the dirt. Do this a few times to make sure all the dirt is removed. Scrub a bit to get everything out.  

4. Re-Touch 

After the above steps are done, the angler should take some time to lubricate the bearings and the spool with their chosen lubricant gel. This helps them to work better the next time you go out fishing. This can also help to reduce the friction between the line and the spool and help the reel avoid corrosion.  

5. Final Touches 

Before you put the reel back into one piece, clean off the handles. Take those off and then soak in warm water with soap. If you do not have the water, use a cotton swab with some oil. This oil can be used to polish the handle, too, preventing any erosion over time.  

Please make sure all of the parts you have cleaned off are dry before putting them back together. A light layer of oil on all of them will prevent corrosion later on. Place all the parts back together well, and the reel is clean! 

Clean Baitcaster Reel

Popular Baitcaster Brands & How To Clean Them 

Most baitcasters will follow the same procedure as above to help get the device clean and ready to go. But certain brands may have specific instructions to help you get the most out of this cleaning process. Some of the steps to use to help clean the most popular brands in baitcasters include: 

Cleaning Lew’s Baitcasting Reel 

The most important thing to help clean and maintain your Lew’s Baitcasting reel is to open it up and add some oil to it after each use. This will prevent it from sticking and keep the parts working well. Reel oil is good for most of the bearings in the fishing rod. Then you can move on to the gears. After unscrewing the cover plate of the reel, just add a few drops of grease in and then spin it a quarter of a turn to make sure the grease gets in there good. Put the plates back on, and you are good to go! 

Cleaning Shakespeare Baitcaster 

The simplicity of the Shakespeare Baitcaster is part of what made it such a hit. It is able to do a lot of the work without having the issues with extra parts, which means there is less for you to clean. Anglers will be able to see most of the parts of the baitcaster without having to take it apart. They should use a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol to get into the nooks and crannies to remove dirt. From there, add one or two drops of oil, and the baitcaster is ready to go the next time you need it.  

Cleaning Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Reel 

The Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Reel is the typical reel you need for baitcasting. There are a few additional parts that tend to come out when you follow the instructions above, so make sure you keep track of them. Oxy Clean or Simple Green are best for this type of reel to not cause damage. Add some of Cal's Drag grease at the end to keep the parts lubricated, so they work well for you. Rubbing alcohol and a good cleaning brush will be enough to help clean out all of the parts too.  

Cleaning Daiwa Baitcasting Reels 

Before you can clean out this reel, you need to take it apart. Anglers need to use extreme care when doing this. Start by finding the screws that hold onto the side of the reel. Spin them counterclockwise to loosen them up to remove the plate in the reel. Next, pull the spool assembly out of the reel.  

From there, find the bolt that goes to the reel handle. Loosen it too, and then remove the handle. There is a star-shaped piece of plastic or metal on the reel. Turn it to loosen and remove it from the reel. Take the plate off and then clean each part with rubbing alcohol or warm water before putting back together.  

Read More: Best Baitcaster Fishing Reels For Beginners

Cleaning Baitcasting Reel FAQs

How often should you clean and lubricate your baitcaster? 

For anglers who use their baitcaster often, it is a good idea to keep up with lubricating and cleaning the reel. Make sure to lubricate the reel bearings every three weeks at most. This helps them to stay smooth and function well.  

Can I soak my baitcaster in water? 

You can soak the baitcaster in water to help remove some of the dirt and grime that may get stuck on it, but there is no reason to soak it in water to lubricate. This is better to do with the baitcasting line before you put it on the reel.  

Can you use WD40 on baitcaster fishing reels? 

You should not use WD-40 on a fishing reel to help with lubricating it. This substance is actually a degreaser. It will work well to help clean the reel and make it look good, but it will not help to lubricate the reel at all.  

Can I use oil to lubricate my baitcaster? 

It is possible to use oil to help lubricate the fishing reel. Vaseline can also work as a type of grease for the fishing reel. It is not going to be able to reach some of the smallest parts of the reel like oil can, but it does provide some lubrication when you need it.  


Anglers need to take the time to clean and lubricate their baitcaster on a regular basis. This will keep the fishing reel in good working order and provide the angler with the accurate casting and strong frame from the reel that they need to bring in that big fish.