spinning reel

How to Clean and Maintain Your Spinning Reel for Optimal Performance

Regular maintenance and cleaning of your spinning reel is simple and will extend the life of your reel.

You spend your hard-earned money on your fishing gear, so it pays to take care of it. Here's how to perform simple cleaning and maintenance of a spinning reel to make sure that it runs smoothly for years.

I perform the interior greasing procedure on my spinning reels once or twice a year, unless something catastrophic happens, like dropping the reel in the mud. I perform the outside wipe down a few times a year. This process shouldn't take you longer than around 15-20 minutes.

Outside Cleaning

This is a very simple procedure and only takes a couple of minutes, As I said, I do this about once every week or so under normal fishing conditions.

First, remove the spool and set it aside. Turn the reel handle to lower the axle.

Then, holding the reel at an angle with the interior of the rotor away from you, give the body of the reel a quick spurt of WD-40 on one side. Then give a quick spurt on the other side, being careful not to spray into the rotor housing or on the spool axle.

Take a soft towel or rag and simply wipe the WD-40 everywhere you can on the outside of the reel.

That's it. This simple procedure will remove grit and grime accumulated from normal fishing conditions and will keep your reel looking good and running smoothly by preventing dirt from migrating into the interior of the reel.

Interior Cleaning

This part of the cleaning ritual is just a little more complicated and requires you to pay some attention to the parts you remove and how you put them back together. But still, it's pretty simple and only takes maybe 15 minutes.

Most spinning reels are constructed pretty much the same way, so the procedure and interior mechanism is basically the same from reel to reel.

You'll want to have a couple toothpicks on hand, as well as Q-tips, a small clean rag and reel grease.

Working over a clean towel, first remove the handle. Then, remove the screws that hold the body cover onto the body of the reel, being sure to put them back in the same order if they're at all different from one another.

Once you get the cover off check the condition of the grease in the gears. If it's black and dirty, take a Q-tip and remove as much of it as you can by wiping it off with the Q-tip. Sometimes grit gets in the gears and that can really impair the reel's performance and shorten its working life.

You may have to actually remove the gears to get everything clean, so pay attention to how things are aligned if you do. But unless you've accidentally dropped your reel in the sand or mud, chances are you won't have to completely disassemble and clean it, although you may want to do so at the end of each fishing season.

Under normal fishing conditions, all you'll really have to do is add a little new grease to the gears.

You do this by picking up a small dab of grease on the end of a toothpick and placing it on the teeth of the various gears and on the top and bottom of the reciprocating block.

Replace the body cover and screws. Replace the handle and give it a few turns to make sure everything is moving smoothly. That's about it.

Here's a good video I found of this basic procedure. In this video, he covers everything I do with my own spinning reels.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.