How To Clean Fishing Reels

Just like any fishing tool, your fishing reel also needs maintenance whether it is spinning, baitcasting, electric, or even spincast. Despite that, many people don’t realize it and some of them do not even know how to clean fishing reels and that’s the reason many of the anglers end up with the damaged or jammed reel in the middle of their fishing process. 

How To Clean Fishing Reels

Fishing reels are most prone to dirt and corrosion that adversely affect the lifespan as well as their quality for how they operate on the water. Normally,  fishing reels for freshwater should be cleaned after every couple of trips while the reels for saltwater should be cleaned on regular basis. 

Whilst, the question really comes down to how to clean fishing reels in the right order in regards to the reel type whilst also considering its do’s and dont’s at utmost priority. 

How To Clean Fishing Reels – Step by Step 

Disassemble the Line and other Components of the Reel:

The first step is to disassemble the line from the spool. Or, you can tape the line to secure and wash it all together with the reel. Although, if you want, you can strip or disassemble the line and wash it separately. 

Disassemble the Line and other Components of the Reel

In addition, you need to remove most of the parts of your reel as well. That includes ball bearings, gears, main shaft, tension knobs, and washers. Don’t forget to label the components in the sequence you have taken them out. 

Also, the parts of the reel vary from variant to variant e.g baitcasting reels have different components while the spinning reel has different so you must be fully understood about those components your reel has and disengage them accordingly. 

Adjust the Drags:

Now, adjust the reel’s drag sincere they are the most critical to contact with water that needs to be taken care of when cleaning the reel. Simply, tighten the drags at max so that no liquid particles can contaminate the reel. 

If the drags are loose, the water gets to enter in the drags and gears and thus brings damages to the reel so must be careful in tightening that. 

Rinse with Water:

Rinse with Water

The next step is to rinse the reel with freshwater water. Make sure the pressure is not too heavy because then there are chances that the water will forcibly enter into the gears and drags no matter how tighten up they were. 

Apply Some Cleaner: (Optional)

Using cleaners is undoubtedly the best way to clean fishing reels. Though this is an optional yet preferable step if you are concerned about the lifespan of your reel. You can use some reel cleaners that your reel manufacturer offers.

Apply Some Cleaner

In case your reel didn’t come with a reel cleaner then you can purchase one from a reputable brand. However, about using a fishing reel cleaner, the process gets a bit extended. There are additional tools that you may require e.g a toothbrush or a paintbrush for scrubbing purposes. 

After scrubbing off the reel, you need to rinse the reel again thoroughly with warm water. Keep the pressure low and make sure there’s mp particle of the cleaners or bubbles left in the reel. 

Dry the reel:

After washing the reel, you need to dry or soak up the water from the reel. You can use soft fabrics or a towel to do so. In addition, a blow dryer is a good option to completely make the reel dry. Ascertain that there’s no moisture on the reel otherwise it’ll get rusted real soon. 

Lubrication or Oiling:

After the reel is completely dried out, the next question is how to grease a fishing reel. Although, you don’t need to grease the reel entirely since the process and variants vary for different parts of the reel. For the spool, you need to remove the drag knob and apply some grease to the main shaft. 

At this point, you can loose up the drags as well. Then, with the help of the towel, you can oil the drag knobs, handles, ball bearings, and line rollers. At last, with the clean cloth wipe off excess oil from the reel. 

Reassembling the Reel:

The last step to fishing reel cleaning is to assemble the line and adjust the drag and other components of the reel that you have disengaged from the reel according to your preferred settings.

Reassembling the Reel

You must be borne in mind to always keep the parts of your reel altogether in a safe place. For the safe side, label the parts of your reel while disassembling them so that you don’t miss the sequence while re-engaging them.

Key Points to Remember When Cleaning Fishing Reels:

There are some of the tips to maintain the fishing reel in order to attain the best outcomes out of your time and labor. These are: 

  • Always label the parts of the reel when disengaging them.
  • Never leave the drags to loosen up when washing the reel.
  • Never over-lubricate the reel since that will get the reel clogged up and more prone to get dirtier than before.
  • Along with the reel, always clean the fishing to keep its strength as well.
  • For the internal parts, use tweezers instead of involving your fingers.
  • Do not use lighter fluids or gasoline for cleaning purposes.


To summarise, these are the simple steps for how to clean fishing reels. Although, if you are doping that for the first time, it might seem hard considering the gathering of different tools and strictly following the instructions. 

However, with time it’ll get easier but the benefits it grants are seriously worth spending time and effort in reel cleaning.

Clinton Shannon

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