Fishing Reel cleaning and maintenance

Fishing Reel cleaning and maintenance

Today I’m going to cover an often overlooked aspect to your fishing, namely rod and reel cleaning and maintenance.

As a charter boat skipper for 30 years, I used to go through a ton of gear and over time it costs a lot of money.

So the best bet is to look after it.

It’ll also repay your kindness when you get that once in a lifetime fish.

Too many people lose trophy fish due to badly maintained gear then cry in their soup and call it bad luck.

We all know that prior preparation prevents piss poor performance so don’t just read this blog. Take action and implement these simple tips in your fishing routine.

Catching big fish has a lot to do with keeping your gear in top shape.

Results like this are not just luck. A big part of fishing success is looking after your equipment! You never know when “The Big One” is going to come along!

Fishing reel cleaning and maintenance tips.

Now because I use my gear practically every day, I have three cleaning processes.

1. Just the basics

2. A spring clean if you like and

3. A full service.

Rod and reel cleaning basics.

If you’re going to be using your gear the next day and it’s still functioning well in terms of a nice smooth drag and spinning line rollers, all you need are the basics.

My recommendation for fishing reel cleaning and maintenance every day after fishing is simple.

Namely, a quick rinse off with fresh water.

But before you grab the hose, first tighten the drag right up.

This will waterproof your drag and lessen the number of times you need to service it.

Spray it with a light mist of water if you can and certainly don’t force water full bore at it.

Then give it a good shake to remove excess water then put it away to dry.

Reel cleaning and maintenance can be as simple as spraying with a light mist of fresh water.

Reel cleaning and maintenance can be as simple as spraying with a light mist of fresh water. But be sure and tighten the drag first and loosen it afterwards!

Real maintenance top tip…

Now, remember I said to tighten the drag? Make sure you loosen it off again after the rinse otherwise your washers will compress and again, need a service.

Fishing reel cleaning and maintenance procedures are not supposed to make things worse!

Believe me. When you’re fishing every day on charter and have 10 rods and reels to deal with, the less often you need to service them the better!

So the basics on a daily basis will suffice if you’re using your gear for three or four days in a row.


Gear maintenance spring clean.

At about day 4 you’ll need a spring clean.

You’ll also need to do this anytime you’re going to store your reel and not use it for a period of time.

So for a spring clean, we tighten the drag, give it a sponge with warm soapy water to remove all the salt crystals and dirt, rinse, dry and, loosen the drag.

Be sure and sponge down the rod and guides as well.

But before we put it away we’re going to get some reel oil or Teflon oil and give the bail roller a squirt and also under the bail arm as well as the main shaft under the spool.

To do this simply pull the spool off by undoing the knob and follow the instructions in the video at the bottom of the blog.

Or if you want a bit of a shortcut, you can just wind your spool into the upper position until you can see the shaft underneath apply it from there. Of course the first way is more effective.

Fishing reel cleaning and maintenance - spray with Inox to keep in tip top shape.

When cleaning my fishing reels with Inox or other protectants, I like to cover the line with a cloth.

Use reel oil or Teflon oil on the moving parts of your bait caster to keep it operating smoothly.

Use reel oil or Teflon oil on the moving parts of your bait caster to keep it operating smoothly.

Fishing reel cleaning and maintenance for bait casters?

Do the same for a bait caster as you do on a spinning reel.

Pretty much oil all the moving parts like the level wind pall and pop some in the shaft if you can remove the side panel.

Remember these moving parts aren’t just there for show. They reduce friction on your line so you don’t lose that once in a lifetime trophy fish!

Checking for damage.

I also like to check my guides and internal ceramics for damage.

A tiny nick on a guide can abrade or even cut your line so check that closely.

And finally, give the reel a light spray with Inox or equivalent surface protectant and wipe off.

Try not to get these chemicals on your line as they may degrade the line and cause it to break more easily.

So will sunlight so don’t store your gear in the direct sunlight if you want to get that trophy fish to the boat.

And don’t expect your line to last forever either.

I always like to replace my monofilament line every 6 months even if it looks OK. Braid lasts a bit longer but don’t just leave it on there 5 years and expect it to perform.

Fishing gear cleaning and maintenance will pay off in the long run!

Remember. Murphy’s Law suggests that a trophy fish is going to hit you when you’re least prepared so taking the time to look after your gear will pay BIG dividends.


I use easy to maintain fishing reels.

Personally I love these little quantum reels. They have an amazing waterproof drag system and I only service mine once every 50 or so outings.

You’ll know when your reel needs a service as the drag won’t be silky smooth like shown in the video above.

This is the number one cause of the one that got away so don’t let that be you.

Most good tackle shops service reels but if you want to do it yourself I have step by step instructions on how to service your drag in a previous blog.

Click >>here << to learn how to service your spinning reel.



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Until then, get out into the great outdoors and keep fishing smarter!




About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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