Spinning reels are the most common and popular reels available on the market. Whether you use yours for saltwater fishing or freshwater, a little preventative maintenance in the form of a good cleaning is crucial to a clean and durable operation.
This is especially true if you are a saltwater angler. Salt doesn’t get along with just about any kind of metal and, if left unchecked, can cause a good deal of corrosion damage in a hurry. At the very least, you should give your gear a good rinse anytime you fish out on salt or brackish water.
Learning how to clean a spinning reel will provide you with a keen understanding of your reel’s operation, and it will help you clean it better in the future, along with improving your skills with it. Cleaning and understanding your spinning reel is something any new angler should learn as soon as possible.
How to Clean a Spinning Reel: Step by Step
To clean a spinning reel the right way, it has to be disassembled, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do, depending on the manufacturer. However, once you clean it for the first time, it will boost your confidence and understanding of your equipment and how it works.
It doesn’t take much but you will need a quality grease/oil for lubrication purposes, and you shouldn’t skimp on the price if you want something that will protect your spinning reel in the long run.
- Premium lubrication
- Either a mild detergent or rubbing alcohol
- A five-gallon bucket of warm water
- Paper towels
- Toothbrush or a soft wire bristle brush
You can substitute paper towels with just about any soft cloth. Just be sure that the cloth you use doesn’t leave behind a lot of lint.
1. Disassemble the reel
Spinning reels usually have side plates and face plates that are held in place with tiny screws. The screws are most likely Phillips Head screws.
Start with the face plate first then remove the side plates. Fill the cap for the rubbing alcohol with the alcohol and drop your screws in it. That way you won’t lose track of them, and the alcohol will start cleaning any grime from the screw threads.
Once the face plate and side plate are removed, the inner workings of the spinning reel are exposed. You will see how much dirt and debris made it inside the reel. You don’t have to remove all of the internal bits. That’s the best way to deep clean it, but it’s a pretty big job.
2. Clean the internal parts
Most anglers will take their reel to a professional to get a cleaning job done that’s really deep and involved or they’ll just buy another reel. You can clean some of the more accessible internals though. The reel coil is the first thing you should tackle.
Be sure to brush inside the coil. That’s where the line feeds through, so be sure it’s free of all debris and dirt. The rotor mechanism is next and it should extract pretty easily with the face plate and side plate removed. Clean it thoroughly, inside and out.
The bail and the spool require the same treatment, however, you need to use your oil or grease lubricant on both when you are done cleaning them off. The handle, right where it enters the reel housing, is very important. Clean it thoroughly and apply a liberal amount of grease or oil.
Just be sure not to get oil where you grip the handle.
3. Reassemble the reel
Carefully place everything back where it came from and reassemble your face and side plates. Apply some light oil to your screw threads and tighten them back down as much as you can without stripping the heads.
How often should you clean a reel?
You should clean it once or twice a month, however, you need to give it a good rinse and exterior cleaning after every outing. This is especially true if you worked it hard for the day or fished around salt or brackish water.
The most important tip is to not get too ahead of yourself. Deep cleaning a spinning reel is a slow, methodical task that isn’t the easiest thing in the world when you do a full disassembly.
- Keep each component organized and separate
- Disassemble in order and reverse the order for reassembly
- Oil the bail and spool, along with the handle where it meets the housing
- Be sure to rinse the reel thoroughly before you begin
- Take your time
Cleaning your spinning reel is an important part of the whole fishing process. The last thing you need is your spinning reel freezing up in the middle of a potential catch. It’s also important for longevity.
Preventative maintenance is key to a long-lasting, dependable spinning reel. That’s especially true if you spend a lot of money on your spinning reels. there‘s no reason to dump all that money on a neglected spinning reel.
Sure, it’s not the most fun thing you could do with your evening but you’ll appreciate it all the more when your reel is spinning smoothly, and you’re bringing in the big catch.
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