How Do I Clean My Fly Fishing Reel?

Fly fishing is an incredibly fun and rewarding activity, but one of the most important aspects of fly fishing is proper maintenance and cleaning of your gear. A dirty reel can lead to a decrease in performance, as well as a decrease in the life expectancy of your reel. In order to get the most out of your fly fishing experience, it’s important to keep your reel clean and free from debris. Here are a few tips for cleaning your fly fishing reel:

1) Disassemble the Reel:

The first step in cleaning your fly fishing reel is to remove it from the rod and disassemble it. This will allow you to access all of the components that need to be cleaned. Make sure to take note of how each piece fits together so that you can put it back together correctly when you’re finished cleaning.

2) Clean the External Components:

Once you have disassembled the reel, you can begin cleaning the external components.

Use a soft cloth or brush dipped in warm, soapy water to gently clean away any dirt or debris from the exterior of the reel. Be careful not to use too much pressure when scrubbing as this can damage delicate components.

3) Clean Internal Components:

Once all of the external components are clean, you can move on to cleaning any internal components such as bearings or gears. To do this, use a cotton swab or brush dipped in rubbing alcohol and gently scrub away any dirt or debris from these areas. Again, be careful not to use too much pressure as this could damage delicate parts.

4) Lubricate Components:

After all components have been thoroughly cleaned and dried off, it’s time to lubricate them. This will help ensure that they move freely during operation and prevent unnecessary wear-and-tear on your reel over time. Use a light lubricant such as WD-40 or mineral oil for best results.


Cleaning a fly fishing reel doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. With just a few simple steps such as disassembling, cleaning both internal and external components, and finally lubricating them with a light lubricant – you can ensure that your fly fishing experience is enjoyable for years to come!


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Emma Gibson