How to Clean A Fishing Reel Properly | Complete Guide for Beginners

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A fishing gear setup is often a valuable investment, if not expensive. It is that kind of venture that we don’t want to repeat from time to time. Hence, the regular cleaning and maintenance of the fishing gear, mainly the fishing reel, is critical.

Naturally, anglers want to learn how to clean a fishing reel. I am afraid that you will be disappointed to know that cleaning the fishing reel is a somewhat complicated task.

But don’t worry at all, we have it covered for you.

So, let’s start.

How to Clean A Fishing Reel

Along with the fishing rod, the reel is the most crucial part of the fishing gear. Regular cleaning and effective maintenance is the key to getting a long-lasting performance from the fishing reel.

Before you commence the cleaning process, you must know what is essential for the fishing reel cleaning. These are

  • Screwdrivers
  • Tweezers
  • Wrench
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Specialized reel cleaning agent
  • Reel oil
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Reel part listing and user-manual

Once you are ready with these things, you may proceed to the reel cleaning.

Step 1: Preparation

Before you start disassembling the fishing reel, make sure everything necessary is close to you. Also, find a suitable place nearby to keep the disassembled parts of the fishing reel.

Step 2: Note Down the Parts Order

As you start the disassembling of the reel parts, note down the order and parts numbers. It will prove beneficial when you assemble the pieces after the maintenance.

Step 3: Disassemble the Reel Parts

Check the user manual and carefully use the screwdriver to open up each part of the fishing reel for thorough washing.  Remove the spool with caution and put it in a secure place to clean it individually. It is necessary since cleaning the spool will require a different technique.

To slide the spool away from the fishing reel, carefully undo the reel drag system. Then remove the spool.

Step 4: Clean the Drag

Start with the reel drag system. Firstly, tighten the drag system with optimal pressure so that water doesn’t enter the drag stack.

Then sponge the entire drag system with lukewarm water. Don’t submerge the drag system in water and also avoid using high-pressure wash. In both cases, water may enter into the interior parts of the gear system and cause permanent damage.

You may use the fishing reel cleaning agent for this purpose.

Step 5: Cleaning the Reel

Now use a clean cloth to rinse off the reel and remove the clogged debris in the process. Use fresh water and microfiber clothing for the purpose.

Also, clean the fishing line using toothpaste and toothbrushes. Gently rinse the line with the brush and, after a few moments, rinse it off.

Step 6: Finishing the Maintenance

Now at first, apply the synthetic fishing reel oil on the drag system and lubricate it using the reel oil or designated lubricant.

For lubricating the reel, spray the agent on a cloth and then apply it instead of using it directly on the reel. It will take fewer lubricants and also won’t affect the fishing line since some reel lubricants may damage the fishing line.

Cleaning the Spool

After you have cleaned the fishing reel, it’s time to remove the spool too. But before you can clean the spindle, you will need to detach it from the reel (we described it in the previous disassembly section).

  1. Reach the underside of the spool and clean it thoroughly.
  2. You may use lubricants for the spool too.
  3. We recommend you use grease as part of the lubrication of the spool’s main shaft. You need to perform the lubrication before replacing the drag knob and spool.
  4. As you assemble the whole setup, keep the drag system loose. It will prevent persistent pressure on the drag washers.
  5. Apply quality reel oil on the handles, knobs, springs, and line rollers. Finally, check for any excess and wipe it off.

Read More: Most Expensive Fishing Reels in the World

What You Shouldn’t Do While Clean the Fishing Reel

When you clean the fishing reel, there are some crucial things that you must avoid to stop damaging the reel and rod.

These are:

  • Don’t use petroleum-based cleaners. Their destructive power may damage the drag system.
  • While you lubricate the fishing reel, avoid using TFE lubricants.
  • Use grease only at the bottom of the fishing reel.
  • If possible, place the metal parts separately so that these don’t come in contact. Otherwise, it may damage themselves.


A fishing reel can be of many kinds, such as baitcasting reel and spinning reel. This process is an overall discussion of the cleaning process and will vary slightly from one model to another.

However, overall instructions such as disassembly and lubrication, as well as cleaning agents, remain the same. We aspire and ardently hope; that it becomes beneficial for you. And one last note, clean the fishing reel after each fishing session to get premium service from the reel for a long time.

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