While fishing can be a lot of fun, you need to take good care of your fishing reel to help it last for years to come. Some reels, like the ones from Shimano, are just built to last and made of anti-corrosive materials that give them the longevity that they need.
But at the end of the day, every reel will need a thorough cleaning once in a blue moon. Unfortunately, many anglers out there aren't quite sure how to clean fishing reels properly. Read our guide below to find out the best way to clean your fishing reels.
Any true angler knows that a clean fishing reel is the centerpiece of a proper fishing setup. The problem is that when the reels get dirty, the grime can find its way into the moving parts of the reel and cause it to malfunction.
It only takes a few minutes to complete a quick washdown, which you should do every time you use the reel. Pair this with 15 minutes of maintenance on the reel every few months, depending on usage.
The first time cleaning the reel is always the most challenging part. You have to figure out the proper steps and how to take the reel apart and put it back together. Once you do it one time, though, you will learn the secrets and can keep the fishing reel clean all the time.
What You’ll Need To Clean Your Fishing Reel
Anglers will need a few different tools to help them clean their fishing reel properly. These can help take the reel apart, store the different items, and more. Some of the tools that you should gather ahead of time include:
Disassembling A Fishing Reel
The first step is to disassemble the fishing reel so that it is ready to go. Start this by removing the line from the spool, or you can use masking tape to secure the line. This prevents the line from tangling later. Keep a container nearby to help as you take the fishing reel apart.
You can add the parts to the container as you work to prevent them from rolling around and getting lost. Consider labels for the parts to help put them back together, or keep the user manual nearby to help you.
How To Clean Fishing Reels: Guide For Different Types
1. Cleaning A Spincasting Reel
Related Article: 8 Best Spincast Reels: Reviewed For All Budgets & Fishing Styles
2. Cleaning A Spinning Reel
Related Article: 6 Best Spinning Reels Under $200: Inshore & Saltwater Reviewed
3. Cleaning A Baitcasting Reel
Related Article: How To Clean A Baitcasting Reel: Guide To Cleaning & Lubricating
4. Cleaning a Corroded Reel
Anglers who do not take good care of their fishing reel will find that the components will start to corrode. You must inspect the reel often to make sure that it does not corrode and the components stay clean and working well.
However, if there is corrosion on the fishing reel, it is good to clean it off. Many of the rod and reel cleaners out there will be strong enough to remove some of the corrosion. Letting the reel sit in clean water and the reel cleaner of your choice can help remove a good deal of the corrosion.
If you are out of reel cleaner, then something like vinegar can work. Vinegar is safe for removing corrosion on the reel, without causing a lot of damage at the same time. Let the reel soak in vinegar for at least a few hours, though overnight is better. Then brush off the corroded parts in the morning.
Cleaning Your Fishing Reel After Saltwater Fishing
Anglers should consider cleaning their fishing reel an extra time after the fish in saltwater. Salt will cause some corrosion on the fishing reel, which can quickly destroy it and make the reel hard to use.
After each use in salt water, rinse the reel off with some fresh water, giving it time to air dry. That is a basic cleaning that will get you by if you plan to go back out fishing in the next few days. Salt will stay on the fishing reel and line, so a deeper cleanse is better.
Once you are done with fishing in saltwater for an extended period of time, you need to do a deep clean of the fishing reel. Follow the detailed instructions above to ensure you do this the right way.
Related Article: 9 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels: Reviewed, Rated & Compared
What Not To Do When Cleaning Your Fishing Reels
Common Cleaning Fishing Reel Questions
Is WD-40 good for cleaning fishing reels?
WD-40 is a good option when you want to clean off your fishing reel, but you should never use it to lubricate the fishing reel. WD-40 will provide a good protective coat on the reel, but it will be a type of grease, not a lubricating choice. Using it at the right time will help you get the best out of your fishing reel.
How often should you clean your fishing reel?
Anglers should clean the fishing reel every five to seven months. If you do not go fishing often, then you may be able to do it one time a year. Most anglers will need to clean the reel at least two times a year to get it shiny and looking good.
What kind of oil is best for fishing reels?
Anglers can choose from several types of oils to help keep their fishing reels clean and working well. Penn reel oil is good for Penn fishing reels as well as others, and hot sauce oil is a good choice for the bearings on your fishing reel.
Can you soak fishing reels overnight?
It is possible to soak the fishing reel overnight. Just make sure that it is done in clean, fresh water without any chemicals inside that can ruin the reel. You can place all the parts of the fishing reel inside the water to ensure that the tough stuff will come off in no time.
Anglers need to spend time cleaning their fishing reels. After each time you use the reel, we suggest tying down the reel on the dock after fishing to prevent it from flopping around. All you need to do next is just spray the reel gently and spray a quality corrosion-inhibitor / lubricant onto a clean rag until part of it is saturated, and then use it to wipe down the reel’s metal parts.
This will help to keep the reel working well for years to come and prevent issues with decay or breaking apart from the salt of the water. Follow some of the easy steps above if you are looking for that deep clean after months of use.