By Montana Grant

Posted: April 7, 2022


Fishing reels reel better when clean! It is amazing how much crud can get into the reel’s workings. Fish slime, scales, sand, dirt, grass, bugs, and who knows what else. All types of reels need at least a Spring cleaning. 

Smart anglers maintain their reels and gear. There are enough excuses for losing fish without adding to the list. Each Spring, we need to change our monofilament line. Fresh line is relatively inexpensive and makes your casts great again. Use a quality line for your refill. Try going to the finest pound test that you are comfortable with.

I once found an entire rod and reel in a river. It had been there awhile and was covered in mud, algae, and sand. The rod was also muck covered. When I got the rig home, I took everything apart, taking care to not attempt to work the handle or bail. I used soapy water and a toothbrush to scrub and clen the gear. The rods lacquer was intact, but the guides took some cleaning. I later added a thin coat of lacquer to the rod. The reel was full of sand. I stripped off the line and made sure to disassemble the entire reel. The directions for the Quantum reel were online. Once the reel was clean, I added the required lube and assembled the reel. That old rig is still working 20 years later! I loan it to kids.

While you change the line, clean your reel. Spinning reels especially need some love. Look up your specific reel model and search for maintenance directions. Many reels offer a You Tube video. A thorough cleaning with soapy water is a good start. Salt water and other muck will come right off. The inner guts of the reels require some directions, so it is best to not submerge your reel in water. 

While you are cleaning the reel, swap out any bail springs with new ones and save the used ones for spares. Keep the spares in your lure box just in case. Also clean the drag system. This may be the most important part of the reel. When the reel is clean, use some car wax to coat the reel and rod. This will deflect most water and crud. Q-tips are great helpers when cleaning. 

Grease or lube needs to be a minimum. Too much reel lube just invites grit to stick to it.

Fly reels also need some love. Remove all the fly line, usually around 30 yards and soak it in soapy water. I also hang my line outside so I can wipe the clean line with Armor All solution. Spray a bit onto a sponge or cloth and wipe the entire length of line. Retie the knot to your backing and the tippet.

Once the reel is in working order, clean the rod. Check each guide using a Q-tip. If any cotton snags in the guide, it will need replaced or at least smoothed out. The cork or foam handle can be scrubbed with soapy water and a brush. You can also lightly sand the cork. If the cork has nicks, holes, and gaps, use a cork filler to fill them in and then smooth and sand.

Routine care and transport of your rigs is important. Use cases and covers. Sunlight will ruin the rod and line. If the gear is just shoved, bent, into the trunk, don’t be surprised if the bend becomes permanent. Most rods and reels get broken in the truck or trunk. If the rods are vibrating or bouncing inside rod tubes, the graphite or laminates can separate. Use a cloth or foam cover. Foam pipe insulation works well.

Tight lines and screaming reels!

Montana Grant