How to Clean a Spinning Reel – Maintenance Tips for Better Performance

Spinning reel maintenance is vital to ensure your spinning reel performs appropriately. If you’re serious about fishing, you’ll want to maintain your spinning reels regularly and keep them properly lubricated. By taking care of your spinning reels properly, you will be able to maximize their lifespan and get more time out on the water.

Spinning reel maintenance

In this article, we will dive deep and guide you on how to maintain them properly. If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to get the best performance for several years.

Spinning reel cleaning guide 2024

There’s no denying it, and fishing can be pretty tough. But it’s worth the hard work when you’re reeling in the fish of a lifetime. So I put together this spinning reel cleaning guide to help you get through the most challenging tasks. By following the steps in this post, you’ll have a happy and kickin’ spinning reel that won’t let you down on the water.

With so many materials and tools required when cleaning a spinning reel, it’s best to get organized before getting started. You should take the time to line them up on your work surface in the order that you’ll need them when working on your reel.

Required materials and tools –

The vital components of your spinning reel are the bearings, shaft, handle, and gears. It’s essential to keep your spinning reel adequately lubricated and cleaned. Without proper maintenance, you’ll likely experience a loss in performance.

To keep them functioning correctly, you need to grease and clean them with the correct lubricants and cleaning tools. The right oil can extend the reel’s service life, while the wrong can create problems for the spinning reel and shorten the reel’s lifespan.

This can be tricky because some lubricants don’t work with certain types of reels or will cause damage to them over time. When finding the right product, the best thing to do is use a spinning reel maintenance kit specifically designed for this purpose. You can get one from the manufacturers of a similar brand.

You’re almost ready to plan your spring cleaning, but don’t forget these tools-

  • Soft cloth
  • Soapy water
  • Q-tips
  • Soapy water
  • Paper towel
  • Small flat-head screwdriver
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Small Phillips head screwdriver

Cleaning guide-

Most people think that once a month or so would be plenty for cleaning their spinning reels. However, if you want them to last longer, you need to clean and maintain them properly.

The good news is that cleaning them isn’t hard at all, and the bad news is that cleaning them may take a little bit of time. I have broken down the steps to make things as straightforward as possible.

Remove any traces of dirt

Removing debris from the reel with water should be the first and foremost step. Cleaning before you dissemble will ensure there are no small particles that might fall into and end up inside your gears and mechanics.

To clean a spinning reel, you need to be more attentive than other equipment. This is because a spinning reel can get damaged by pressure and dirt. The risk of creating scratches can damage your reel ultimately.

Using a paper towel or a clean cloth, you want to rinse the reel with water. This will clean away most of the visible dirt and grime. The more dirt and grime there is, the harder it is to clean.

Remove the spool and clean it

To clean your spinning reel deeply, you need to remove all of the parts of the spinning reel that will get dirty. Start by unscrewing the cover on top of the spool. This may involve loosening a nut (if present) or unscrewing a bolt with a screwdriver.

Next, you should remove any dust, grit, or debris from the spool’s interior and the drag washers under the cover you unscrewed.

Add oil drops

After that, you’ll need to add a few drops of oil. Add 4 to 5 drops of oil onto the spool shaft and work it up and down for 10 seconds for better distribution.

Replace the spool

Next, we need to replace the spool with the shaft. Gently take the spool and place it back on the shaft. You need to find the grooves where you need to put this back on.

Take the handle off

Now we need to take the handle off. This is easy; click and pull. Sometimes the handle will be stuck; if this happens, use a flathead screwdriver to pry it off.

Clean the handle and add oil drops

Afterward, it’s time to clean the handle. Putting a drop of oil on it is the easiest and quickest way to achieve this. This prevents the mechanism inside from getting stuck until you reuse it next time.

Remove the bail arm

Now, remove the bail arm. This can be done by unscrewing at the pivot point and eliminating any parts connected: the bail roller and guide. Take a Q-tip with some Clenzoil (a proprietary solvent) and clean the guide slots in the rotor.

These parts mustn’t be damaged when you remove them—clean both sides and where it connects to the rotor on both sides as well. Damaged parts will cause the bail arm not to work correctly and could damage your spooled line.

Replace the handle and bail arm

Replacing the bail arm and handle is easy if you remember the order they were taken out. Once the handle and roller guide is immaculate, assemble them back in place and wipe the frame with a cloth sprayed with cleaning oil. You can use any good-quality cleaning oil that works for fishing reels for this step.

Fishing reel maintenance tips

Whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater fishing, your spinning reels will need regular maintenance. Fortunately, cleaning and maintaining them doesn’t take up much time. Even if you aren’t a beginner fisherman, there is always something new to learn about your gear.

These tips for maintaining your spinning reels will help keep you in top form during the fishing season! Here are some quick reel maintenance tips that every angler should know.

After every use, adjust the drag-

The drag mechanism on your fishing reel stops the line from being pulled out too quickly, which means it comes under steady pressure. The drag will take up a line from the lure or hook bait as you pull it in. This is a significant part of a fishing reel and means you shouldn’t neglect the maintenance of this part of your fishing equipment.

Double-check that all of the bolts are securely fastened-

When using your spinning reel, you want to watch the screws, nuts, and bolts that make the thing work. If they are loose in any way, it could cause damage to the machine and allow your line to be pulled out of place.

Many people don’t think about this until it’s too late but make sure all your reels are still in good working order. This will save you the hassle and embarrassment of losing a fish or having the handle come loose while fighting a fish.

Regularly re-spool the reel-

It is critical to regularly re-spool the reel. This is so that the line wears evenly and guarantees that your spins work correctly and are not resistant. In addition, a well-spooled reel will achieve higher durability.

Keep the reel out of direct sunlight-

Protect your spinning reels from direct sunlight because constant exposure will damage them. Fishing tackle tends to rust if not correctly taken care of.

Cleanse the outside with a squeeze bottle-

For a reel that has been exposed to saltwater, take care to clean it out thoroughly. Salt residue can cause rust and could damage your reel. So if you’re going to be cleaning your reeling after a trip to the ocean or a particularly aggressive bass, make sure you remove all of the leftover salt from the inside of the reel.

A good reel maintenance tip is to cleanse the outside with a squeeze bottle. The small plastic dropper-style bottles used for contact lenses or saline solution work fine, but buying a dedicated reel cleaner is preferable.

Also Read: Spinning Reel Sizes to Choose From


In conclusion, spinning reels are a bit trickier to maintain than the other types of fishing gear. However, if you want them to function at their best and endure over several years, you’ll need to care for them properly.

This is a small guide to help you get the most out of your spinning reels. Remember to clean and lubricate your reels regularly and effectively to maximize their lifespan and ensure you can get maximum performance every time you hit the water.

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