How to Maintain Your Rod & Reel
OK, you have invested your time in choosing that perfect rod and reel combo, and you want to make sure it becomes a family heirloom, right? That can happen; I still have an old cork- handled fiberglass rod from my great uncle. In this article, I am going to go over three easy steps to ensure that your rod and reel stay in great condition year after year!
STEP ONE: CLEAN THOROUGHLY!
This might seem like a no-brainer, especially if you are fishing salt water. However, many of us finish our trips with a haphazard cleaning of the gear. Depending on the frequency of use or storage conditions this can be the most important part of maintaining your rod and reel. Contrary to popular belief it is not good to completely submerse the rod and reel in water after use! I love to fish bass on the East Coast lakes, and I have a buddy who will dunk his rod and reel in the lake each time we finish a good session. At this point we smile at each other; I have spent many hours on the water trying to explain that when he completely submerses the reel, water will enter the compartments and cause issues. Beyond that, even if the lake water looks clear and clean, there are micro- sediments inherent to any natural water source floating around, waiting to enter those sensitive inner workings of your reel. Sometimes (especially by our launch ramp, where he always dunks the reel) I know there is even a small amount of gas or oil from old outboards. Let’s talk about how to clean your rod and reel properly.
You may think a simple rinse might be all you need to maintain your rod, but a little attention will not only extend the life of your rod but improve your fishing. Besides, you probably want to spend more time outdoors and less time fixing equipment.
The line guides of your reel can be come nicked or scratched, and this can contribute to a line break when landing a big fish. Examine the eyes with a magnifying glass. If you note a groove or scratch, use fine-grained sandpaper to smooth out the inner ring of the guide. A bit of paint will ensure your guides do not rust and this will remove one simple cause of line breakage.
Clean the entire rod with warm, soapy water (a vinegar solution will work as well) and rinse with clean, fresh water. Allow the rod to thoroughly dry before storing properly.
A reel is a very complex piece of modern machinery and can be intimidating to a novice angler when taken apart. If you are not familiar with removing and replacing parts on your reel, head to a local tackle shop or ask an experienced friend for some guidance the first time you service your reel.
Never use gasoline or petroleum- based products to clean your reel. This can damage sensitive plastic
parts. I prefer warm, soapy water; natural products like Simple Green can work well too. Be sure you only use a cloth or fibre brush to clean the inner workings of your reel. A good rule of thumb when dealing with the sensitive parts of your reel is to never touch metal to metal; a wire brush can throw off the delicately balanced parts to the point that your reel will no longer function correctly. I like to use an old toothbrush with a small head to reach inside.
Remember to remove the spool of fishing line before starting to service your reel. The soapy water will remove the grease or oil from the reel, so once you are finished, allow the rod and reel to dry and head straight for STEP TWO.
STEP TWO – LUBRICATE LIGHTLY
There are many great products on the market to lubricate your reel after you have thoroughly cleaned it. I prefer grease, although it does require a bit more attention to detail to make sure you have properly covered the gears. I find using a toothpick works very well to reach inside to all of the teeth of the many gears your fishing reel will contain.
Insider tip: If you are using oil to lubricate your fishing reel, start from the bottom of the gears and work your way up. This way you do not accidentally apply too much and can adequately lubricate the reel. Be sure to work the grease or oil into your reel by turning until you feel the action glide “like new.” It should feel natural and without friction.
A WORD ON BEARINGS
Depending on your reel, the bearings might come sealed from the factory or accessible to service. Again, if you are unfamiliar with servicing bearings find a reputable source to guide you through the first time. Once I have the bearings free, I clean them with lighter fluid (be sure to remove all lighter fluid after to prevent damaging those plastic parts inside your reel) and then grease them carefully.
STEP THREE – STORE PROPERLY
A properly stored rod and reel should never be exposed to dust, salt, or humidity. These factors can contribute to the corrosion of the metals and destroy the careful work you have done in Steps One and Two. So be mindful of where you are storing your rod and reel. Storing your rod and reel in the travel tube is not a good option. These tubes are most likely sealed and can hold in moisture, again contributing to the break down of your reel’s components.
You should always store your rod and reel with the drag loosened, the reel hanging down, and out of the elements. If you decide to use your basement or garage be sure the area is free from dust, or salt from ice removal, or winds from a saltwater source.
Never store your rod with tension; I like to remove any tackle and secure the line to the spool to ensure there is nothing that can bend the rod from the natural position.
With these three easy steps, you can make sure your rod and reel are functioning perfectly for years to come.