How To Clean & Lubricate A Spinning Reel

Those who love fishing know how dirty their reels can get after a day out; soil, sand, bait residues, salt and water can cause serious damage to your equipment if it’s not cleaned and maintained. Thorough maintenance is essential – both routine upkeep after your fishing trip and an extra deep clean at the end of the season. So, how do you clean and maintain your fishing reel?

Firstly, it’s important to understand that there is a difference between the causes of wear and tear in reels used for freshwater fishing and those used for saltwater fishing. Saltwater fishing reels are likely to experience more wear and tear than freshwater reels due to saline residues so they will need to be maintained and cleaned with more care. Another difference is the quality of the reel – if your reel is very sophisticated and complex, then you must consider this before disassembling it.

Step 1: Routine Cleaning Of The Reel Coil

Remove the wire coil from the reel by unscrewing the central screw and check it both externally and in the rear towards the reel mechanism. After removing any foreign elements with a small brush, you can immerse it (even with the wound wire) in distilled water for a few hours. Then, rinse the coil and dry with a clean microfibre cloth and paper towels in all its parts. Do not lubricate the friction unit.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

Step 2: Ordinary Cleaning And Lubricating The Rotation Mechanism

Every time you go fishing, the minimum “mandatory” cleaning consists of passing a microfibre cloth moistened with a little water on the outside of the reel. This is normally sufficient for regular use. Every five to seven uses we suggest following the cleaning with slight lubrication of the visible moving parts, i.e., those that you can see in the reel after removing the coil, in particular, the central shaft at its base. We suggest using WD-40 Specialist High-Performance Silicone Lubricant in order to ensure the perfect movement of the parts. It provides excellent lubrication and protects against moisture after quickly drying. The formula is compatible with all metals, plastics, rubber, and wood.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

Step 3: Lubricating The Bail And Line Spool

You should pay particular attention to the bail joint, which is used thousands of times during a fishing season. The opening and closing must be regular and free of any extra space. First, clean the joints with WD-40 Smart Straw Multi-Use and then lubricate them with WD-40 Specialist High-Performance Silicone Lubricant. Apply a few drops of the product to the line spool too, which in the best models is equipped with a small inner bearing.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

Step 4: Lubricating The Handle

Disassemble the handle by removing the nut (or other locking system) on the opposite side of the reel and then extracting it. Use the same products indicated above to lubricate the reel head, handle, shaft and rotation seat, which is usually equipped with a small ball bearing. The joint that allows the handle to be folded against the reel body should also be lubricated.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

Step 5: Lubricating The Internal Mechanisms

Opening a reel is an expert operation, so it is usually best to defer this part to a professional. However, many reels can still be lubricated if they have an opening where you can apply lubricant. Some have a small screw cap outside the body, others have a small hole on the spool holder. Use these openings to apply a small amount of WD-40 Specialist Anti-Friction Dry PTFE Lubricant that reduces the friction and wear of the mechanisms. If you are an expert, you can lubricate inside the reel every two or three fishing seasons. Please note how the internal mechanisms already have a bit of grease. You simply need to replenish it by adding the product mentioned above. Make sure that you reposition the various internal components in their exact order during reassembly.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

Step 6: Final Cleaning of The Exterior

Once you have finished carrying out maintenance on the moving parts, clean the entire reel of any excess lubricant, tighten all the visible screws with the appropriate screwdrivers and finally spray it with a layer of WD-40 Specialist High-Performance Silicone Lubricant. It must be “stretched” and dried with a cloth and paper towels. During winter, make sure to keep the reel stored indoors and protected from dust.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: For professional and high-performance lubrication, why not try our silicone lubricant spray

Now that you know how to clean and lubricate your fishing reel, why not extend your DIY knowledge further and find out how to clean your fishing rod, how to treat rust on a car or have a look at some of the best uses for WD-40 Multi-Use. Find all of our other tips and tricks here.

how to carry out fishing reel maintenance

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