August 03, 2020 4 min read

how to clean a spinning reel

Modern fishing reels are designed to last a long time. With proper maintenance and care, you can ensure your reel has a long lifespan, keeping money in your pocket.

Following basic cleaning protocols can minimize corrosion that forms on reels through wear-and-tear. With a few products and tools, you'll keep your gears, bearings, and reel working at peak performance.

Stick around as we provide practical advice on how to clean a fishing reel, which can save you money.

Why Should You Clean Your Reel?

If you've ever spent time saltwater fishing then you know that corrosion can form quickly on reels exposed to saltwater. However, what about your reel that is used for freshwater fishing?

Even with freshwater fishing, water and grime can get into your bearings and gears of your reel, causing corrosion. Over time, that corrosion can lead to a less efficient reel.

You may notice that your retrieval is bumpy. Your line lay may not be even. You may lose cranking power. Eventually, your reel won't function properly anymore.

The process of cleaning, degreasing, and then applying new grease to your gears and oil to your bearings will help keep your reel perform efficiently. It will also extend the life of your reel greatly.

Nonetheless, taking apart a reel can be a scary proposition for the fisherman who is not mechanically inclined. That's why we have created this post to help you master your reel so you can save money.

The good news is that most reels don't have to be broken down into separate parts for cleaning. This post is designed to help you clean your reel without the hassle of breaking it completely down for a thorough cleaning.

Depending on the type of reel that you have, the steps involved to clean the reel may differ, but the parts and how to clean them will be the same.

The Basics to Cleaning Your Reel

We recommend a few steps to take for basic cleaning and maintenance of your reel. For starters, we recommend cleaning off the external components of the reel. You should do this after each fishing outing.

If you're out in saltwater or freshwater, take some time to clean off the dirt or grime that's collected with a soft cloth. You can follow that up with a very low-pressure water rinse with a garden hose to remove any debris that may find its way into your reel.

Many reels come with a maintenance port. This is a place where you can apply oil to your reel. Adding a drop after every 5 fishing outings is recommended. Make sure the oil you are using is recommended by the manufacturer.

Tools You'll Need for the Job

Before you start cleaning a fishing reel it's a good idea to gather the tools you'll need for the job. This will save you time and make for a more efficient cleaning ritual.

Some tools that you'll need include:

  • A flathead and Phillips head screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Hard bristled toothbrush
  • toothpicks
  • oil and/or grease

The manufacturer for the reel will have specific instructions about what is best to apply to the reel (whether it be oil or grease).

How to Clean and Oil a Spinning Reel

There are a number of components that are easy to access on a spinning reel. You'll be happy to know that you can clean and maintain the reel without having to break it completely down piece by piece.

Here are the steps on how to clean and oil a spin fishing reel:

  1. Remove the spool by twisting the dial on the top.
  2. Once the dial is off, you can pull to spool off of the spool shaft.
  3. Remove the drag stack. Rotate the handle until you can get underneath.
  4. Use a swab and cleaner to wipe the spool shaft. Dry the shaft off with a cloth.  
  5. Apply a couple of drops of oil to the spool shaft and rotate the handle a few times.
  6. Put the drag stack back on.
  7. Put a few drops around the hinges and screws of the bail arm.
  8. Use a screwdriver to take apart the roller and add one drop of oil to each bearing.
  9. Replace the pieces and tighten it.
  10. Add a drop of oil on the handle.

That's it! You've successfully cleaned and oiled your spinning reel.

How to Clean a Baitcaster Reel

Again, you don't have to break down the reel to its primary components to clean and oil the reel, which is great!

Here are the steps to clean a baitcaster reel:

  1. Use a cotton swab and use a spinning motion to clean all the grease on the worm gear.
  2. Remove the spool and use a cotton swab to clean the spool and pinion gear then oil the spool bearings.
  3. Clean and oil the drag and gear system and support bearings.
  4. Oil your worm gear.  

After you're done with those steps, you should have a clean and oiled baitcaster reel.

How to Clean a Fishing Reel

Now that you know the steps on how to clean a fishing reel, fishing reel cleaning can become part of your fishing ritual. Your gear will last longer, and you'll notice better performance. Whether you're a sea-loving fisherman or a freshwater fisherman, you'll be ready to go.

For more tips on how to care for your fishing gear, fishing tips, and more, be sure to check out our blog.

If you're looking to add new gear for your next fishing expedition, be sure to check out our shop.

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