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Fishing Rod Care

Salt and sun take a toll. Don't let your reel succumb prematurely.

Fishing rod closeup

(Photo: Michael Vatalaro)

Rinse It Right, Now

Salt crystals destroy everything over time. If you don't get the salt out, it can ruin your reel in a surprisingly short amount of time: days, not weeks.

To rinse your reels, first tighten the drag all the way down to prevent rinse water from pushing between the plates. Then gently rinse, using low pressure, either a mist or slowly running hose with no nozzle. Don't use a stream or blast the reels with a nozzle. This can drive salt into the reel, particularly into the drag, quickly ruining it.


Clean your cork grips by scrubbing them down with soapy water and an old toothbrush. Dry with a towel to prevent mildew.

If the rod's dirty, a quick wash with soapy water (dish soap is all you need) and a rinse should bring back the shine.

Fresh Thinking

Always rinse down your reels if they're exposed while trailering, just as you would after saltwater use. Blowing road grime always seems to make its way into moving parts.

Dry, Then Bag

Shake the reel to shed any excess water, dry it off with a soft towel, and then back off the drag almost completely. This prevents the plates from compressing over time, becoming less effective. Let the rod and reel sit out, preferably in the shade, to dry completely before storing. This is especially important if you use a reel cover or bag, which can trap moisture.

Seal Out The Salt

Periodically wiping the reel lightly with CRC or other corrosion inhibitor will help keep it in top shape.

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Michael Vatalaro

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Michael Vatalaro is the former executive editor of BoatUS Magazine. He has a Pursuit center console, which he uses in the Chesapeake Bay.