How to Clean and Maintain a Fishing Reel – Spinning, Baitcasting and Spincast

It goes without saying that regular cleaning and maintenance only extends the shelf life of your fishing reel. Be it spinning, baitcasting, or spincast. And the best part about it all is that regular cleaning and maintenance are simple tasks. So here’s how to clean and maintain a fishing reel – spinning, baitcasting and spincast.

After all, high-quality fishing gear costs extra money. So it’s your responsibility to keep the equipment in good condition. Only then can you expect it to run smoothly. And not cause any trouble for years.

So let’s get started right away!

Why Cleaning Your Fishing Reel Is Necessary

Your fishing reel and rod are the two most important pieces of equipment. Without the reel, you simply cannot have the required strength for bringing strong fish near you. And that means a wasted or useless fishing experience.

But the good news here is that taking care of the reel is possible. You should clean your fishing reel whenever it gets dirty. Or when it’s filled with dirt and other impurities. Greasing and pouring oil is also necessary. To keep your reel long-lasting and functional.

It’s especially important to know how to clean a fishing reel after saltwater use. Because what salt minerals do is damage fishing gear more effectively and faster than other factors. So fishing reel maintenance is not only crucial but also absolutely necessary.

Here’s something you might want to know as a part of fishing reel maintenance…

How to Clean and Maintain a Fishing Reel – Spinning, Baitcasting and Spincast

1. Spinning Reel


A spinning reel is, by far, the most popular one these days. Because it’s easier to use, disassemble, and clean.

Here are the instructions for deep cleaning a spinning reel…

●     Soak the Reel In Water

With spinning reels, you have to soak them in freshwater after you’ve used them in saltwater. To eliminate minerals and salt. After that, dry the reel using a soft cloth.

Now take out the line. And stick tape to it against that rod for preventing any movements.

●     Disassemble the Reel

After you remove or secure the line. Disassembling the piece using a wrench or screwdriver comes next. First, take out the spool and clean it properly. Before you get to the remaining parts.

Now, using tweezers, take out the rest of the parts very carefully. This includes the spool washers, bushings, handle knobs, pickup pin, and pickup arm. Moving on to the gears, crankshaft, pool-release, clutch screw, and center shaft. Then wrap it up with the ball bearings and roller wheel.

●     Brush Each Part Clean

With a toothbrush, you can clean every part using a cleaning solution. Make sure to remove all the dirt buildup and residues. Then dry off the parts with a soft cloth. The washing liquid should get eliminated from the parts completely.

●     Lubricate the Parts Needed

Just put some oil on those handle knobs, kick and arm levers, and pickup pin. Along with the spool-release system, ball bearings, and clutch screw.

Then use grease on the center shaft and the entire crank system. You can also grease the gear’s pickup arm, bushings, spoon washers, and roller wheel.

●     Put It All Back Together

It’s now time to piece up the spinning reel again. Follow the same procedure you used for disassembling, but in reverse.

2. Baitcasting Reel


When not used correctly, baitcasting reels cause a lot of damage to the line. Also, maintaining the condition of this one is a bit more difficult. So be extra careful.

Here’s how to clean a baitcasting fishing reel…

●     Wipe the Outside of the Reel

You can begin by cleaning the baitcasting reel exterior using a washing liquid and cloth. Remove all the impurities, buildup, dirt spots, and salt.

The outside should be cleaned thoroughly before you clean the insides. Then wipe it with a dry, clean cloth.

●     Get Rid of Spool Residue

By loosening that drag tension knob, you release that spool with a screwdriver. Then remove this spool and soak your reel in freshwater.

The next step is to eliminate any residue present inside the spool. You can do this using the cleaning solution and toothbrush.

●     Disassemble and Clean the Parts

Take out the reel’s drag tension knob entirely. Then remove its drag-system components. Such as spool release, bushings, handle knobs, stabilizer bar, etc. Perform the task with tweezers.

After disassembling these parts, clean them using the washing liquid and toothbrush.

Then wipe all the parts with a dry, soft cloth.

●     Lubricate the Parts Needed

Oil the shaft and ends of the spool, spool release, and handle knobs. Along with the ball bearings and stabilizer bar. Don’t overdo it. And make sure to keep the oil away from the other parts.

Then grease the pinion yoke, main gear, worm gear, and worm-shaft guard. And also the bushings and release slider.

●     Put It All Back Together

Follow the disassembling order in reverse. Make sure to be extra careful with the reel’s tension knob. Avoid exerting too much pressure on it.

3. Spincast Reel


This type of reel has all of the parts inside. So for cleaning, you first have to disassemble them all. And that means an even tougher job than cleaning a baitcasting reel.

●     Soak the Reel

In freshwater of course. Let the reel soak for some hours. So the freshwater gets inside and softens the dirt.

●     Feed the Line

Press that thumb button you use for casting. So the line feeds to the reel once you release the button. Secure that line coming out from the reel’s front hole when a large part of the line is inside.

●     Remove the Covers

Removing the covers of the reel comes next. This includes the spool and spinner head. Use a wrench for the task at hand. Then gently remove the washers, clutch ring, crank bearing, center shaft, and crank handle. With tweezers this time. Take out all the remaining parts after that.

●     Clean the Parts

Using a toothbrush and cleaning liquid, get rid of all residue inside. Begin from the outer components. Moving on to the inside. And be extra careful with the small parts.

Then wipe all the parts dry with a cloth.

●     Lubricate the Parts Needed

These parts include crank shaft and gear, bushings, center shaft, pick-up arm, pinion gear, and washers. Grease them. And oil the kick lever, pick-up pin, clutch ring, ball bearings, arm lever, and spool release.

●     Put It All Back Together

Then finally, assemble the spincast reel keeping in mind how you disassembled it.


If you take care of your fishing reel, it’s likely to not cause any troubles. Cleaning at first might seem like a tedious, time-consuming undertaking. But once you get the hang of it. The task is very simple and can be quick even.

How to Clean and Maintain a Fishing Reel – Spinning, Baitcasting and Spincast? Well, now you know. Each type of fishing reel has a slightly different cleaning and maintenance procedure. So follow each set of instructions thoroughly.

Rodney Heaton

I'm Rodney Heaton and I love hunting in the wild. In the past, I was in the military for over 5 years. After that I became a licensed hunter and a mountain guide.