How to Maintain your Fly Rods and Reels

John Schips, is the primary contributor for the blog. 


Every fisherman knows that without a fully functioning rod and reel, going fishing would be a nearly futile effort. While you could tie a hook to a line, put some bait on it, and dip it into a lake hoping for a catch, this is generally not the most popular fishing method considering the advanced fishing technology we have nowadays.

If you have a fishing rod and reel that you want to keep using for many years to come, we recommend following some guidelines to help take care of it and make sure you can have a functioning rod and reel for a long time. A fishing rod that is properly taken care of can last you years, whereas a rod that is neglected might just break down that next time you take it out on the water. There’s nothing worse than feeling a massive trophy fish strike your fly or bait, tugging on the end of your line and having the tip of your rod snap off, or your reel freeze up, right as you are hauling it in.

If you want to make sure your fishing equipment stays in working order and continues to serve you in your efforts to snag massive fish, follow these tips to make sure that your fishing rod never fails you out on the river or lake.

Don't Drop Your Reel On A Rock While Wading
That’s a pretty nice reel you have there; hate to have someone drop it on a rock.

Use Socks & Tubes

Fly rod socks and rod tubes should be your first line of defense when trying to keep your rods safe. The covers will keep your guides from scratching against the tube and the tube itself will keep the rods from snapping during transit. You can also get rod socks in any color you want, which allows you to match them to the colors of your rods for easy identification.

Use Rod Holders 

If you have fished for any significant amount of time in your life, you’ve probably had the experience of setting your rod against something while you step away, only to look back as it slipped and crashed to the ground. When this happens either on a boat or on land, it can snap guides or reel seats off of your rod and maybe even tangle your leader.

You can prevent this by keeping them in rod holders or rod lockers. This will also prevent your entire fishing rod from disappearing over the edge of the boat while you aren’t looking, as a monster fish dives to the bottom of the lake with your fly, and your rod attached at the other end.

A Fly Angler Balances His Reel On His Feet
Don’t drag your nice fly reel through the dirt or mud, balance it on your boots if you have to put it down.

Clean your Rod and Reel

After you’re done fishing for the day you should rinse off your rods and reels to get rid off any leftover sand, grit, dirt, or residue from saltwater, and make sure to dry them off. You also need to take off any flies you were using while you were fishing, so they don’t get caught on your clothes or in your lines.

The best product to use for residue removal is something biodegradable such as Simple Green. Use a toothbrush to scrub away the residue. After your rod is dry you can wipe it off once more quickly with a soft cloth for any remaining residue. If you find you’re having a tough time getting the cork grip as clean as you want, try sanding it very lightly with fine-grit paper. This will lift off any remaining surface residue, just be careful not to sand too much. Even after a light sanding, it’s always a good idea to apply another waterproof seal to the grip.

Reels can be a little more complicated, depending on how much you want to do on your own. If you are completely unfamiliar with the inner workings of a reel and don’t have a “dummy reel” to practice on, you’re likely better off having it serviced at a tackle shop. If you do plan on cleaning it yourself inside and out, here are a couple tips that might help.

First, after rinsing and drying the reel, disassemble the reel carefully after removing the spool. You can use simple grease or oil to lubricate the components, and greasing the gears is a good idea too. While greasing the gears remember to apply the grease to the bottom of the teeth and not the top, so that the grease doesn’t fly everywhere. Lastly, wire brushes can actually harm your reel after multiple cleanings. Instead, try a small toothbrush, as this will be much more gentle on the smaller metal components, yet still firm enough to be effective.

Learn To Keep Your Rods And Reels Fishing Like New
Before storing your rod, even for brief periods, make sure to give your reel a good clean first.

Use Proper Storage

When not in use, it’s important to make sure your rods are properly stored in some kind of storage rack. This will prevent your rods from curling or from bumping into each other and possibly getting tangled. Try to avoid leaning your rods against one another as well. Although it’s quite common to see fly rods stored away in the corner of a garage somewhere, this is actually not a good idea as it leaves them incredibly susceptible to taking damage on the tips, reels, guides, and blanks. If you are storing your rods away for more than two days at a time, another important thing to remember is to loosen up the drags, so that the fishing line doesn’t tighten up and break or pull on your rods and bend them.

A rod is a fisherman’s best friend on the water, and just like a best friend, you want it to be around for a long time. Keeping your rod clean and reel sufficiently oiled, as well as stored properly, will make sure that your fishing rod will be around for years and never fail you in the middle of a catch. Follow these tips and even the cheapest of rods will last much longer than you expect it to.


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