Last reel question for the day – cleaning – Dawn?

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    To clean my salt water reel, I soak it in fresh water.

    Bob RigginsBob Riggins

    I fish almost exclusively in salt and I never soak the reels.

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Yeah I would agree that soap is a bad idea.

    Gary Worrall

    I think it depends a lot on the reel and what the parts they are made of Aaron,

    If you are using trout type reels in the salt, a lot of extra care is needed,
    If the reel has a bearing, sometimes the bearing is not stainless and will seize up and rust, just rinse with fresh water and re-oil and grease

    On some of the old Fenwick saltwater reels, you can get the same bearing in stainless steel from a bearing supplier, both my reels seized so I replaced them, properly greased the bearings and have never had a problem since

    Two requirements I guess,
    freshwater reel
    Completely strip down and wash and dry every part, re-grease and oil
    Saltwater reel
    Just rinse down with fresh water
    And, a regular grease and oil, the caution is when you have sealed drags etc, just a rinse is all you need most of the time and “no oil near the drag”

    I have been using Nautilus reels lately and except for rinsing, there are almost maintenance free

    Buzz Bryson

    Multiple issues, mostly addressed.  “Painted” (non-anodized) reels, such as the classic Hardy Lightweight series, can corrode pretty quickly in salt.  They need attention right away (ask how I know).  Well anodized reels are pretty close to bulletproof, and will resist corrosion for a long time.

    If you catch fish that pull off backing, it (the backing) will soak up saltwater like a sponge (well, GSP not so much so).  Reeling that salt back onto the reel simply traps/encases the salt in the tightly wound backing.  Dunking the reel doesn’t remove much.  Salt will coat and dry on the line too, and casting a line crusted with salt is about like casting a deep-fried line.  Plus, in a fertile marine environment, there is plenty of phyto- and zooplankton, as well as other minerals, all of which can coat a fly line.

    So . . . none of that makes me particularly anal about cleaning a reel during a trip.  I’ll rinse/wipe off the line, and maybe the outside of the reel/rod, but that’s about it.  At the end of the trip, after I’m home, I’ll do a pretty complete cleanup.  I’ll strip off the line, and at least any backing that got wet.  I do wash them in warm (not hot) water with some mild soap, and scrub things with an old tooth brush.  I’ll then rinse well, wipe everything off, and let everything air dry completely.  I’ll then regrease any bearings/bushings/shafts/drag plates/springs/etc, maybe using a drop of lighter oil in some places.  I rewind the backing, and may/may not put the line back on the reel.  Sometimes I store them in loose/larger coils.  I have seen plenty of high $$$ reels have corrosion problems, but rarely are those on the larger, smoother surfaces.  Mostly, the problems occur in the tight corners, joints, and/or where salt was captured by the backing (shows up in vent holes, under the backing on arbor, etc.).  About the worst thing you can do is to put a reel back into a neoprene or other more/less waterproof bag when it’s damp.  Then the corrosion has plenty of time to work its mischief.  Don’t forget to wash out the reel bags, particularly if you’ve put the wet/salty reel in/out of the bag during a trip.  No one way to skin the cat.

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Buzz –

    What were you doing with a Hardy Lightweight out in the salt in the first place? 🙂


    Buzz Bryson

    That was supposed to be “DON’T ask”.  Actually, it’s worse than that, but it was a friend’s outfit, not mine.  He had a nice graphite rod I’d built for him, 7-wt if I recall correctly, and a Hardy Princess reel.  He was in eastern NC fishing for largemouth bass in Currituck Sound (back when that used to be famously good).  Brought the outfit home, tossed it in the corner of his storage area, and there it sat for a long while.  He knew he had a problem when the reel seat – – – the nickel silver reel seat – – – was frozen fast with corrosion.  He couldn’t loosen it to get the reel off.  Gave it back to me to fix.  I soaked the reel seat in some sort of solvent a few days, and it actually came loose.  The reel was a bit rougher.  Corrosion had eaten into the reel foot a bit, into the paint on the frame, and also into the spool under the line.  And, most problematic of all, the spool would turn freely, but was stuck fast on the frame.  Stripped all the line/backing off, soaked everything in solvent again, and let it sit.  Repeated the soak/sit for a few days, twisting and pulling each day.  Finally it broke loose. Once I got the spool off, Icleaned it up the best I could.  It actually worked fine, just had some permanent “beauty marks” on it.  Lesson learned!

    For context, this was “back in the day” when the choices were primarily Hardy Lightweights, Medalists, or the few who had a Fin Nor.

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Wow Buzz!


    Jon Conner

    It may seem unbelievable today, but even in the eighties there really wasn’t anything to suggest that fishing in saltwater required special equipment. I can’t remember what reel I used for my first bonefish, but I remember getting a Hardy Zenith and then a Marquis which I used till I started striper fishing in the mid nineties. Drags were not part of our vocabulary until relatively recently unless you were talking about a Bogdan.


    P- flueger…..

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