Should You Wash Your Reel After Fishing?

Last Updated on September 22, 2023

As a dedicated angler myself, I understand the value of maintaining our equipment. This isn’t just a hobby, it’s a passion, and we want our gear to perform at its best, don’t we? 

One question often debated in the angling community is whether or not you should wash your reel after fishing. Some swear by it, while others believe it’s unnecessary or even harmful. 

To settle this debate once and for all, I’ve delved into the research, consulted with other experienced anglers, and drawn on my own knowledge and experience. So, let’s tackle this together – should you wash your reel after fishing?

Understanding the Importance of Reel Maintenance

Before we can tackle our central question, we need to understand the importance of reel maintenance.

The Role of a Reel in Fishing

A fishing reel, my friends, is more than just a tool – it’s your reliable partner when you’re out in the open water, battling a feisty catch. Whether it’s a spinning reel, a baitcasting reel, or a fly reel, it serves the essential purpose of deploying and retrieving the fishing line.

Common Threats to Your Fishing Reel

However, like any partner, your reel needs care and attention. The threats? Saltwater corrosion, sand and grit, and the general wear and tear that comes with each fishing expedition.

To Wash or Not to Wash: The Great Debate

So, should you wash your reel after fishing? Let’s look at both sides of the story.

Washing Your Reel After Fishing

Pros of Washing Your Reel After Fishing

Regularly washing your reel can prolong its lifespan, ensure optimal performance, and prevent saltwater corrosion and damage from grit.

After all, who wants a squeaky reel or, worse, a reel that gives up right when you’ve hooked a big one?

Cons of Washing Your Reel After Fishing

On the flip side, washing your reel isn’t without risks. Water can get trapped inside the reel, potentially causing damage. It’s also possible to wash away necessary lubrication. And, let’s face it, if you’re fishing frequently, washing your reel after every trip can be time-consuming.

Expert Opinions on Washing Fishing Reels

Even among the pros, opinions vary. Some swear by a thorough wash after every fishing trip, while others prefer a wipe-down followed by regular servicing. 

Reel manufacturer Penn recommends a gentle rinse with fresh water after fishing in saltwater to prevent corrosion.

Can I Wash My Fishing Reel?

Yes, you can wash your fishing reel. This can be a good idea if you’ve been fishing in particularly dirty water or if your reel has visible grime on it. Be sure to use mild soap and warm water, and be gentle to avoid causing any damage. And remember – always dry your reel thoroughly after washing.

Should I Rinse My Reel After Fishing?

Yes, it’s generally a good idea to rinse your fishing reel after each use, especially if you’ve been fishing in saltwater. Saltwater can cause corrosion if left on the reel, so a quick rinse with freshwater can help prevent this. However, it’s important to remember to thoroughly dry your reel after rinsing to avoid water getting trapped inside.

How to Properly Wash Your Fishing Reel

If you decide to wash your reel, here’s how to do it right.

Preparing to Wash Your Reel

First, gather your supplies – clean water, mild soap, a soft cloth, and a toothbrush. Then, remove the reel from the rod.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your Reel

Submerge the reel in a bucket of soapy water. Use the toothbrush to gently scrub away any dirt or salt. Rinse it under running water, making sure to remove all the soap.

Remember, we’re going for a gentle bath, not a high-pressure wash.

Drying and Storing Your Reel Post-Wash

After washing, pat the reel dry with a cloth and let it air dry before storing. Never store a wet reel, as this can lead to rust.

Other Key Maintenance Practices for Fishing Reels

Beyond washing, remember to regularly lubricate your reel and check for any parts that need replacing. Proper storage, especially during the off-season, can also go a long way in maintaining your reel’s performance.


So, there you have it, fellow fishing enthusiasts. Based on years of experience, expert opinions, and the love of the sport, it’s clear that washing your reel after fishing can extend its lifespan and ensure optimal performance

However, it’s important to do it correctly, avoiding any potential damage. Always remember, a little bit of maintenance can go a long way in preserving your fishing gear.

Knowing how to properly care for your gear can make a significant difference to your fishing experience

So, next time you’re packing up after a day of fishing, give that reel a little extra love. 

It’s not just a piece of equipment, it’s a partner in your angling journey. Until next time, keep your lines tight and your reels clean.

Tight lines!

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