How To Clean A Fishing Reel After Saltwater Use: Important Tips

In comparison to freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing is a thrilling experience because of the deep sea adventures and the potential to catch big game. Usually, saltwater fishing gears are constructed sturdily to withstand salt corrosion.

Nevertheless, gears used in saltwater fishing should be maintained properly for longevity. If a reel is not cleaned well, the inside and outside normally get damaged by the salt shortening their lifespan.

Indeed, one of the worst disappointments you can ever experience while fishing is your reel failing to work when you are battling a big catch. The good thing is that you can prevent such disappointments by maintaining your saltwater fishing gears and especially your fishing reel properly. Then the reel will be reliable.

Golden Tip

To keep your reel in good working condition, always avoid submerging it in water. And because there are different types of reels, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when maintaining the reel and especially when you need to take the reel apart and wash the interior parts.

The Way to Clean A Fishing Reel After Saltwater Use

When to Clean a Saltwater Reel

It is advisable to clean the reel immediately after a fishing adventure. The reason you clean it right away is so that salt residues won’t damage any reel component, and that little to no salt will penetrate and get into the interior of the reel.

Worth noting is that though you may clean the exterior of the reel well after every fishing trip, some dirt, salt, and sand will still get into the reel’s interior and will need to be cleaned after sometime. How often you should clean the interior, depends on how frequent you use the fishing reel.

To clean the interior of the reel requires disassembling the reel. Also if the reel gets submerged in water, it will need to be cleaned thoroughly by disassembling all the parts of the reel.

Routine Cleaning After a Day of Fishing

As much as you will be so tired after a fishing trip, to be able to use your fishing reel in future requires that you dedicate a few minutes to cleaning your fishing reel. Otherwise, the reel will be rough during your next fishing expedition to your disappointment. The good news is that it is a pretty simple process that will save you a lot in the long run, because you won’t need to replace your reel due to being corroded by saltwater.

Wash the Reel

First, tighten the drags to prevent water and salt from getting in the interior of the reel. Secondly, use a wet towel to wipe the reel which in effect will remove any salt or grime on the reel. Then wash the reel with warm and soapy water to remove salt, lubrication oil and dirt. You can remove the spool to clean the underside of the spool. To get to hidden areas of the reel, use a cotton tip applicator.

Are you worried about wash your fishing waders? You can read our this post.

Rinse the Reel with Clean Water

Now use water without excessive pressure to rinse the reel because excessive force will force water and any remaining salt to get into the reel’s inner components. Therefore a spray bottle will work perfectly.

Wipe the Reel

Now wipe the reel with a wet microfiber piece of cloth or a piece of cloth that won’t leave fibers on the reel, to further remove any salt residues. Then use a dry piece of cloth to dry the reel well and after that let the reel air dry. Next, lubricate the reel using the oil that came with the reel or any lubrication oil recommended by the manufacturer. Now use a protective coating to wipe the reel being careful to avoid the fishing line and reel handle component.

Cleaning the Interior of the Fishing Reel

Once every six months to one year or even two years, your reel will need to be thoroughly cleaned. The process involves cleaning every component of the reel by first disassembling the reel. You can take this time to inspect each component, and replace all worn out parts when reassembling the reel.

You will get to remove any salt, dirt and lubrication oil that is stuck inside the reel. For this procedure, it is highly recommended that you get to understand the parts of your reel by studying the user manual carefully. Alternatively, you can choose to use a professional and reputable service center or tackle shop.

You may like to read: How to Use a Humminbird Fish Finder.

Cleaning Accessories Required

To clean your reel effectively you need a small brush for cleaning the components. You can use a small paintbrush or an old toothbrush. Other cleaning items needed include a small screwdriver, a pair of tweezers, a toothpick, and a cleaning solution.

Disassembling the Reel and Cleaning Every Component

Use the small screwdriver to disassemble all the parts of the reel being careful to label every part in sequence. Be very careful with especially the small parts like screws. Use a wet rag to remove any debris of salt and lubrication oil from each component.

Then soak the components in warm water that has a cleaning agent for about 10 to 15 minutes. Warm water helps to dissolve the salt and lubrication oil from the reel components. It is highly advisable that you use the cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer of the reel.

Ensure that you clean every surface of the reel component thoroughly using the small brush. Now rinse the reel first in warm water before wiping it with a microfiber piece of cloth. Then air dry the reel components to ensure that all the parts are completely dry.

Reassemble the Reel

Finally, reassemble the reel. follow the sequence of how you removed each part from the reel. Then lubricate the parts of the reel that need to stay lubricated.Now keep the reel safely in a good storage container until your next fishing trip.


A well-maintained fishing reel operates smoothly and lasts long. As much as saltwater reels are constructed with anti rust materials that are corrosion resistant, the reel will still get corroded by saltwater if not maintained well. Also, ensure that you do routine maintenance for your other fishing gears to keep everything in good working condition including the fishing rod and fishing lures.

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