Basic Essentials: Reel Care

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January 28, 2013 by Art of the Angle









As the snow continues to fall in many areas of the trouting world fly fishing minds begin to make that pre-season checklist.  The checklist usually contains things like finding that leak in the waders and repairing or restocking the fly boxes.

One of the most important things that should be highest on that list is reel care.  Taking care of the fly reel includes removing all the fly line and backing and tearing the reel apart.

So in this segment, I want to take you step by step in reel care….

Step 1: Gathering your tools.

20130115_140933Pictured here are the two empty fly line spools.  Never throw these items away after loading your line onto your reels.  They come in handy throughout the many seasons.  One tip though; super glue them together!  if the spool separates while you are winding the line on them…especially the backing, it is a nightmare to untangle.


Step 2: Remove the fly line.

I do this by hand.  A line winder is faster but is also tighter.  I prefer a loose wind for soaking…a later segment to follow on fly line cleaning and care.

Step 3:20130126_174856 Remove all of the backing.

This can be done on a line winder because doing it by hand takes FOREVER!


20130126_175738There, now all the line and backing has been removed and placed in a safe place.  With the spool revealed, we can now take the reel apart.

Step 4: Place the reel parts in warm, soapy water20130126_180053.  I let them soak for a few minutes before actually scrubbing the pieces.


Step 5:  Scrub!

Use an old toothbrush or that of your spouse if they pissed you off and scrub the gears thoroughly as well as the housing.  Do the same for the spool also.  After you scrubbed the gears and housing while still intact, remove the gear and continue to scrub the backside of the main gear and  other pieces now exposed.


Step 6:  Rinse!

Make sure to rinse all pieces and parts thoroughly.  Use hot water for the rinse as it will help the drying process and remove old grease you may have missed.



Step 7: Lube and Reassemble

Once the pieces, spool and housing are fully dry, begin adding oil to the moving parts and gears of the reel.  There are many good lubricants on the market today, but I always prefer the 3 in 1.  Others have their favorites but this is the brand I started with and it has never failed me.

Now, reassemble the reel and give the spool a few turns with the tightened and loosened drag.  Make sure to distribute the oil through all the working parts.  The only thing left is to reapply your backing to the spool.


Fly line should not be reattached until it has been cleaned, stretched and retreated ( this process we’ll cover next post).

So quit dreaming and get to cleaning!…Your reels ain’t gonna clean themselves and after loosing a big fish to laziness you will wish you would have followed my advice.

Tight Lines and clean, screaming drags!

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