Reel Maintenance Tips

Four tips for cleaning fishing reels.

October 22, 2014

Taking care of gear makes sense. Here are four tips that, along with your owner’s manual and the support of a knowledgeable tackle dealer, will help ensure your reels keep catching.

Spray It
Reels used in salt water should be lightly rinsed with fresh water applied from a spray bottle. High pressure from a hose may drive salt and dirt into the reel’s workings. If you must use a hose, lock the drag down tight and use a spray setting.

Clean It
Rubbing alcohol, aka isopropyl alcohol, is a mild solvent that removes dirt, old grease and grime but does not harm finishes. It also evaporates, and so can’t contaminate. Apply with a toothbrush and/or cotton swabs.


Grease It
Anglers have a tendency to believe more is better. That may be true for livewell capacity or number of rods or engine horsepower, but too much grease can inhibit free-spool and thus casting distance and subtle presentations. A dab will do ya.

Rebuild It
Lay out reel components in the order of disassembly to make reassembly easier. Work on a surface covered with a light-color cloth to provide contrast and to prevent dropped parts from bouncing onto the floor — and into neverland.

Quick Tip: To prolong the useful life of drag washers and ensure maximum performance, always back off the drag when a reel is not in use.


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