How To Maintain and Clean Your Fishing Gear

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how to clean your fishing gear

How To Maintain and Clean Your Fishing Gear

How To Maintain and Clean Your Fishing Gear

Saltwater and fishing gear have never gotten along and I learned this the hard way. If you’re looking for a how to clean your fishing reel, you’ve come to the right place. I have lost countless reels in my early fishing days to lack of care. I promise, I will never make that mistake again. 

If you don’t properly clean and care for your equipment, your bank account will suffer the consequences. 

The reality of fishing equipment is that it will last as long as you are willing to spend time taking care of it. After a long day on the water, the last thing anglers want to do is spend 30 minutes cleaning their gear to prevent corrosion. 

Reels have become more complex and touchy, so learning how to maintain and clean your fishing gear is crucial. The more days you skip cleaning it, however, the less and less it will last. 

Thankfully, many of the newer rods, reels and lures are made of non-corrosive material, but it’s still necessary to clean them after every use. Remember, Reel Maintenance will save you hundreds of dollars and only takes a few minutes of TLC.

Now, before we get into taking apart our gear, I do highly recommend a kit similar to this one, to ensure that you have all of the tools you will need to take your reel apart and put it back together.

Reel Care 

Now there are many different types of reels these days, but we’re going to focus on your spinning reels or conventional reels.

The first step to reel care… you need to remove the salt that builds on it after a long day on the water. 

Ensuring that you are rinsing with low pressure is vital to your reel’s survival. Personally, I like to have a face cloth of some type of no-fiber towel to place over my reel while rinsing. This ensures that the pressure of the water isn’t spraying the salt deeper into my reel.

The next step is to open the reel and clean it. The spool is what takes the brunt of the salt and debris. If you unscrew the drag adjustment and remove the spool, it will ensure every aspect of it gets cleaned. 

Water & Oil Reel Cleaning

When the reel is taken apart, you can start cleaning it with fresh water. While many are tempted to dunk the reel in a bucket of freshwater, don’t do this. Carry around a spray bottle full of fresh water and spray down the entire reel. 

Not only is rinsing important, but also make sure to use a drop of oil or two to ensure your gears and bearings are properly lubricated.

Every so often, I like to use the Penn Blue Grease to lubricate the gears & bearings. 

Make sure when you take apart the smaller parts of your reel, that you are keeping everything separate so that you know where everything goes when you are ready to put your reel back together.

If you plummet your reel into a bucket of water, it will force the salt and sand further into it and cause corrosion. A light spray and wipe will ensure it stays clean and strong. 

On your spool, use a rubbing alcohol filled cotton ball to absorb the sand and salt that has found a home on your reel. If possible, spray on reel lubricant or grease once you’re done wiping it down and cleaning the surfaces with fresh water. 

Reel Reassembly

As you reassemble your reel, make sure the drag isn’t fully tightened. This keeps the pressure off of the ball bearings. Remember to tighten it when you’re ready to start fishing the next time! I’ve lost too many fish by forgetting to tighten my drag!

Now, don’t forget, depending on how often you are fishing will dictate how often you are cleaning your gear. Personally, I fish about 3-5 times a week for various lengths of time, so I am cleaning my gear roughly once per month.

A main factor in keeping your gear working is the fishing line, especially if you’re using PowerPro. In my experience, I like to change out my line every 3-6 months depending on how much I’m fishing. What I find is that the PowerPro can begin to wear, especially when I’m Snook fishing near the docks. The last thing I want to do is lose a fish because 100 yards into my line has been worn against pilings or barnacles. 

Rod Care 

Your rods do not need nearly as much maintenance as your reels. However, it is always smart to spray the rod down with fresh water and dry it with a cotton rag. This will remove any excess salt, dirt and debris that may cause corrosion over time, as we all love our gear to be shiny. Be sure to spend extra time on the islets because salt can build in these after a long day of fishing. 

If you throw your rod in the boat and refuse to clean it, the finish will begin to wear and weaken over time. Old saltwater rods have a tendency to break. Salt water is ruthless and will destroy all pieces of your equipment if they are not properly cared for. 

Yes, it is tedious, but you will be thankful when you aren’t replacing your rods every few years! 

Lure Care 

Taking care of your lures often seems like a waste of time. You’re just going to throw them back in the water tomorrow, why would you clean them? It’s all about sustainability. You’ll keep the hooks and unique features intact the more often you clean them. 

To start, it’s not a bad idea to have a bucket of freshwater on board to put your lures in while you’re transitioning between fishing locations. This will remove the saltwater and keep them from quickly corroding. 

Even though you’ve cleaned them throughout the day, it’s important to wash your lures at the conclusion of the day as well. To do so, rinse them with freshwater and spot dry them. This will make sure all of the salt is removed and you aren’t just rinsing them hoping they’re clean. A pat down with a soft, cotton rag will keep them in top shape. 

If you do throw your lures in the tackle box without cleaning them, all of the salt that was on them throughout the day will find the other lures in the box and begin corroding them. One saltwater lure can easily infect several throughout your tackle box. 

Some ultra careful anglers always carry around an empty tackle box. They place all of the lures they used throughout the day in it so they have extra time to dry. When it comes to saltwater and any sort of fishing gear, there’s no such thing as being too careful. Your bank account will always thank you in the long run. 

Miscellaneous Care

If you have extra time on a weeknight or weekend, it’s never a bad idea to do a deep clean on equipment and other miscellaneous pieces of gear you bring along on your fishing trips. 

Whether it’s cleaning a tackle box or rod holders, these random acts of care for your equipment will keep everything functioning properly. 

Please don’t be lazy when it comes to the maintenance aspect of fishing! While it’s tedious and sometimes time-consuming, it will save you so much money moving forward. 

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