How Often Should You Clean Your Reel? A Complete Guide

Your fishing reel is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your fishing gear that requires a fair amount of maintenance. 

If your reel is left dirty or unmaintained, it will not function as you desire, leaving you frustrated. That’s why it’s important to clean and maintain your fishing reel regularly.

So, how often should you clean your reel? You should clean your reel every 15-20 trips. You should also lubricate it every 10 trips or more, depending on how frequently you use it. If you don’t use your fishing reel often, cleaning and lubricating it every 2-3 years will help prolong its lifespan and preserve it rust-free.

Keep on reading to find out in detail how to properly clean your fishing reel to prolong its lifespan and recommendations for the best fishing reel grease on the market.

How Often Should You Clean Your Reel?

a photo of the inner parts of a fishing reel to show how often you should clean a fishing reel

Your fishing reel, like every equipment or device, requires regular maintenance to ensure it is working properly. 

Freshwater anglers must wash their reels at least once in every 5 fishing trips, while saltwater anglers should wash their reels after each trip.

If the fishing reel is exposed to dirt, sand, salt, and water on a daily basis, the oil lubricating it will quickly wear out, and the wheel’s spinning movement will be harsh and ineffective. 

Once the wheel’s spinning movement starts to become harsh and ineffective, this is your sign that it’s necessary to clean and lubricate the reel.

However, if your reel is functioning properly, I would advise you not to tamper with it, as the manufacturer’s lubrication could last about 2 years. 

Why Do Fishing Reels Require Maintenance?

A fishing reel is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment in your fishing gear, as it holds the fishing line, aids in casting, and retrieves the line.

The device’s regular care will provide productivity and a pleasant fishing trip. It will also save you the cost of frequently replacing your reel, as regular maintenance would definitely prolong the life span of the reel.

The reel is exposed to sand, dust, salt water, and other debris while fishing outdoors, which has an impact on the reel bearings and connected parts.

So, to ensure it is functioning properly, the reel requires regular maintenance, such as properly cleaning and oiling the internal parts of the reel.

A Guide For Maintaining Your Fishing Gear

If you are a beginner, it’s better not to tamper with the reel’s inner parts, as it’s difficult to put the components back together after you’re done. So, it’s better to simply wash the exterior surface will suffice.

Here is a thorough guide on how to clean your reel as well as the rest of your gear.

Step 1 – Cleaning The Reel

  1.  To avoid having the water contaminate the drag stack, tighten the drag on the reel and gently wash with lukewarm water and soap. 
  2. Avoid submerging the reel in water or rinsing it under high pressure because this might lead to damage to the gear and drag mechanisms.
  3. Wash the reel thoroughly with clean water and pat dry with a cloth.
  4. Wiping the line clean is also a smart option. Disconnect the spool and clean it separately underneath running water in order to remove excess salt or dirt from underneath the spool and the top of the reel rotor if required.
  5. In the end, put some greasing coating onto a clean rag and spread it over the reel, taking care not to touch the line as some chemicals can degrade it.

Step 2 – Cleaning The Spool

  1. Remove the spool from the reel by undoing the drag knob.
  2. Wash the spool from the bottom.
  3. Before replacing the spool and drag knob, gently lubricate the main shaft.
  4. When the reel is not being used, the drag knob should be left slack to release the tension on the drag washers.
  5. Employing high-quality reel oil or something similar, gently grease the handle knobs, line rollers, bail arm springs, and folding handle, then effectively remove any excess.

Step 2 – Cleaning The Rod

  1. Clean water should be used to clean the rod, paying careful attention to the guides.
  2. Make sure to clean the grips. To clean tough dirt, employ soap and warm water.
  3. To avoid rust, apply a mild reel oil to the rod guides.
  4. Examine all guides for damage and change any that are damaged right away. The fishing line will break if the guides are badly damaged, so examine them carefully.

Here is a simple video explaining the basics of reel maintenance:

What to Use to Clean Your Fishing Reels?

Freshwater and perhaps a solvent cleaner can be used. However, try not to get carried away with it. It’s best to do it moderately to avoid spraying the solvent straight onto the interior sections.

Look for a cleaner that dissipates quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. Also, always use a dry article of fabric to wipe the reel.

Is It Better to Use Oil or Grease on Your Fishing Reels?

If you’re using a newer fishing reel, you won’t have to think about oiling it or greasing it as much since new reels come lubricated by the manufacturer, and the lubrication could last for 2 years.

If you want to use oil, be mindful that it will not provide water resistance. Furthermore, the oil will most likely wear out, making the parts prone to rust or corrosion. On the other hand, grease would be a better and more efficient lubricant.

Is Normal Grease Suitable For Fishing Reels?

You could use normal grease. However, white lithium grease is especially recommended as it will provide you with waterproofing as well as rust resistance. Ensure that your grease contains no acetone, as it will damage your fishing reel.

The Best Fishing Reel Grease

Grease is needed to keep the gearing of your fishing reel lubricated. It keeps water and moisture from weakening and deteriorating the gearing while also minimizing friction between gears. This allows the reel to spin smoothly for several years.

Here are recommendations for the best grease for your fishing reel:

Penn Fishing Reel Grease

Penn is among the world’s leading makers of fishing reels, and they also produce this grease. Offered in tubs as small as 2 oz, these are amazingly cheap and should be added to your fishing gear collection.

They also come with significantly more grease than the smaller toothpaste-shaped tubes. If you have multiple reels to maintain or apply grease frequently, then the Penn-style tub will certainly offer more value for money.

It is made from high-quality components and features superior water stability and rust protection. This achieves my recommendation as to the best fishing reel grease.

Quantum Hot Sauce Reel Grease

This Quantum Hot Sauce is made entirely of artificial grease. It is corrosion resistant and is specifically intended for fishing reels. This grease is similarly manufactured in the United States and comes in a 0.4-ounce tube. 

Ardent Reel Butter

The Ardent reel butter is another excellent choice. This yellow grease is completely artificial and works with all reel parts.

This grease has corrosion-preventing material in it. It also has a UV tracer, so you can look at it under a blacklight to see if any spots need to be reapplied.

It also has an anti-gumming ingredient to help it function better with time.

This grease can be used in both freshwater and saltwater.

Cal’s Universal Fishing Reel Grease

Consider a generic fishing reel grease like this one from Cal’s if you have several brands’ fishing reels and don’t want to purchase both Penn and Abu Garcia greases.

It is resistant to saltwater rust and is suitable for use on drag materials, seals, and o-rings. It also has low grease creep, meaning it will remain where you put it and will not come off after using it.

Comes in purple and tan, as well as 1 oz and 1 pound containers.

Abu Garcia Fishing Reel Oil

Abu Garcia also sells reel grease, reel cleaner, and reel oil. This is ideal for baitcasting reels.

This is resilient to both high and low temperatures. It comes in a 1-ounce bottle with a needle tip to gently get the oil into small crevices. It also aids in avoiding getting oil in the wrong locations.

Related Questions 

How Long Should a Fishing Reel Last?

A fishing reel should last approximately 7 to 8 years if it is properly maintained. If it is not properly maintained, it will last 2 to 3 years, even if it was not used. The lifespan of your fishing reel depends mainly on how well you maintain it and the frequency at which you use it.

How Much Does It Cost to Service a Fishing Reel?

It costs between $20 and $40 to service a fishing reel, depending on the reel type. This includes reel cleaning and lubrication, as well as a performance diagnostic check. The service is expected to take between 2-4 weeks to complete.

Helpful Resources

Types of Fishing Reels

Check out the best Fishing reels For The Money

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