How To Clean A Baitcasting Reel?

Baitcasting reels are cool tools for fishing, but they need proper care. In this guide, we’ll learn how to keep them clean and working smoothly. Cleaning your reel regularly is like giving it a bath – it stays happy and works better!

Imagine catching the biggest fish with your awesome baitcasting reel! But wait – is it clean and ready for action? Let’s find out how to make your reel super cool and always ready for a fishing adventure.

Fishing is fun, and a baitcasting reel makes it even more exciting. To keep it in top shape, cleaning is a must. Don’t worry; it’s easy! In this guide, we’ll explore simple steps to clean your reel and ensure it stays your best fishing buddy.

Anatomy Of A Baitcasting Reel

Before delving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of the various components that make up a baitcasting reel. This knowledge will enable you to disassemble and reassemble the reel with confidence.

Main Components:

  1. Handle and Star Drag: Control the spool’s rotation and drag settings.
  2. Spool: Holds the fishing line and is connected to the handle.
  3. Frame and Side Plates: Encase internal components and house the braking system.
  4. Brake System: Controls the speed of the spool during casting.

Tools And Materials You’ll Need

Tools And Materials You'll Need

Gather the following items before starting the cleaning process:

  1. Screwdriver Set: For removing side plates and accessing internal components.
  2. Reel Grease and Oil: Lubricants specifically designed for fishing reels.
  3. Cleaning Brushes: Small brushes for removing dirt and debris.
  4. Q-tips or Cotton Swabs: Precise cleaning of intricate parts.
  5. Rubbing Alcohol or Reel Cleaner: For dissolving old lubricants and grime.
  6. Soft Cloth: To wipe down and polish the reel.

Step-by-Step To Clean A Baitcasting

Follow these steps to clean your baitcasting reel effectively:

1. Preparation:

Before you start, choose a clean and well-lit workspace. Lay down a soft towel to prevent small parts from rolling away.

2. Disassembly:

Use the appropriate screwdriver to remove the side plates, exposing the internal components. Be sure to keep track of the screws to avoid misplacement.

3. Clean the Exterior:

Wipe down the exterior of the reel with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol or reel cleaner. Pay attention to the handle, frame, and side plates.

4. Inspect the Components:

Examine each component for signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. If any issues are detected, address them before proceeding with the cleaning.

5. Clean the Spool:

Remove the spool and clean it thoroughly. Use a brush to remove any debris, and inspect the bearings for smooth rotation.

6. Clean Internal Gears:

Carefully clean the internal gears with a brush and remove old grease using Q-tips soaked in rubbing alcohol. Apply a small amount of reel oil to lubricate the gears.

7. Brake System Maintenance:

Inspect the brake system for any dirt or debris. Clean it gently with a brush, and ensure that it moves freely.

8. Reassembly:

Once all components are clean and lubricated, reassemble the reel in the reverse order of disassembly. Tighten screws securely but avoid over-tightening.

9. Final Checks:

Test the reel’s functionality by rotating the handle and adjusting the drag settings. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure smooth operation.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your baitcasting reel after each fishing trip to prevent dirt and saltwater from causing long-term damage.
  • Lubricate Appropriately: Use reel oil and grease sparingly, as excessive lubrication can attract dirt and affect performance.
  • Store Properly: When not in use, store your reel in a cool, dry place to prevent corrosion.

How To Clean Baitcaster Reels After Saltwater Fishing?

How To Clean Baitcaster Reels After Saltwater Fishing?

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to adopt the right approach for rinsing your fishing reel. Using the correct method can significantly impact the reel’s longevity and performance. Here are three recommended options for a safe and effective rinse:

  1. Step 1: Garden Hose
    • Positioning:
      • Place your rod and reel perpendicular to an outside wall to prevent water accumulation.
      • Ensure water drips down and away from the reel.
    • Equipment:
      • Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle.
      • Opt for the spray setting to rinse the reel for about 1 minute.
    • Cleaning Process:
      • Employ a toothbrush to gently scrub the spool while misting with water.
      • Release salt and sand without risking damage to internal components.
  2. Step 2: Spray Bottle
    • Application:
      • Fill a spray bottle with cleaning water for a controlled application.
      • Decide whether to leave the reel attached to the rod or detach it for rinsing.
    • Cleaning Technique:
      • Use a toothbrush to lightly brush over the reel while spraying.
      • Distilled water can be used to prevent hard water spots as it dries.
    • Tip:
      • Heat the water slightly before filling the spray bottle to expedite salt dissolution.
  3. Step 3: Kitchen Tap
    • Disassembly:
      • Take your reel apart for a thorough cleaning.
      • Gently turn on the kitchen tap with warm water.
    • Rinsing Process:
      • Allow a gentle stream of water to flow over the disassembled reel.
      • Utilize a toothbrush to scrub away salt and sand, ensuring a meticulous clean.

Important Notes:

  • Avoid High-Pressure Water Guns:
    • Emphasize the risk associated with using high-pressure water guns.
    • Highlight that such methods force impurities into critical reel parts, posing potential damage.
  • Rinse Duration:
    • Stress the importance of a brief but effective rinse, approximately 1 minute, to prevent corrosion.
  • Distilled Water Advantage:
    • Point out the benefits of using distilled water, especially in spray bottle applications, to prevent hard water spots.
  • Temperature Consideration:
    • Encourage the use of slightly warm water, especially when disassembling the reel, to enhance salt dissolution.

By adopting these proper rinsing techniques, anglers can ensure their fishing reels remain in optimal condition, free from the risks associated with improper cleaning methods.


Can I use WD 40 on my fishing reel?

After fishing, wipe the reel with a damp cloth and add a light lubricant. WD-40 is a trusted product for routine care.

How do you clean a Shimano baitcaster?

Use cotton swabs or a toothbrush with rubbing alcohol to clean the reel’s exterior. Keep the pinion gear inside clean for smooth freespool and better casting.

Why does my baitcaster backlash in the air?

Backlashes happen when your lure slows, but the spool keeps spinning, causing tangles. Modern baitcasters have brakes to prevent this, making casting easier for everyone.

What not to do in a reel?

Don’t share blurry videos or unclear pictures; use high-quality clips with clear visuals. Avoid copying from TikTok or including logos, watermarks, or distracting visual effects.


Cleaning a baitcasting reel is a straightforward process that, when done regularly, can significantly extend the life of your equipment. By understanding the reel’s components and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can maintain optimal performance and enjoy a smoother fishing experience. Remember, a well-maintained baitcasting reel is not just a tool; it’s an investment in your angling success.

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