Rod and Reel Care

With anglers spending significant sums of money on their rods, reels and terminal tackle it makes sense to take care of this equipment to ensure that it remains in the best possible condition. This article considers the different ways of caring for and maintaining fishing equipment.


Like all fishing equipment rods need to be cared for to ensure that they remain in good condition. Corrosion caused by salty seawater and careless handling can all cause damage to rods. After a fishing session rods should be wiped down with a damp sponge or cloth and then allowed to dry off. This will remove any saltwater which has splashed onto the rods and any traces of bait or fish which has been transferred to the rod by anglers during the fishing session. Anglers should pay particular attention to the areas which have been constantly touched during the fishing session, such as the grips and reel seat. Once the rod has been cleaned and has dried it can be checked for damage, especially around the rings as these are easily bent or broken (for example by the rod falling over onto a hard surface). Cracked or split rings are a serious issue as they will damage all of the line which runs through it. If rings are damaged replacement ones can be bought online or at fishing tackle shops, and many tackle shops also offer a service to replace rings for a reasonable fee. The simple actions of washing and drying a rod and briefly checking for damage are quick and easy to carry out and also help that rods stay in great condition for future fishing trips. Indeed, a good quality fishing rod which has been properly cared for will last an angler for decades.


Fixed Spool Reel
Fixed spool reels are relatively easy to maintain.

Fixed spool reels: This type of reel is easy to maintain. After a fishing session the reel should be lightly rinsed with fresh water but make sure the drag is fully tightened to stop water from getting into the inner workings of the reel. Alternatively, the reel can be wiped down using a wet sponge or damp soft cloth. This will remove any corrosive saltwater from the reel as well as bait and fish residue which may have been transferred to the reel by the angler’s hands. Many anglers also remove the spool and rinse the line under fresh water to remove any salt which may have accumulated and then let it dry before reattaching it to the reel. A paintbrush with stiff bristles can also be helpful to get sand out of difficult to reach parts of the reel. Further maintenance consists of lightly oiling the bail arm mechanism and handle, and removing the spool and applying grease to the pinion gears of the reel as and when this is necessary. Many anglers also loosen the drag of the reel while the reel is being stored and only tighten it up when they are using the reel. Be aware that removing screws to take off the side plates of fixed spool reels is not recommended. Many modern fixed spool reels have a complex assembly and it may be difficult to re-assemble a reel if the side plates are taken off. It is generally best to leave a full disassembly of a fixed spool reel to a tackle shop or specialist who knows what they are doing.

Multiplier Reel
Multiplier reels can have different braking systems.

Multiplier reels: Like a fixed spool reel multiplier reels should be wiped down with a wet sponge or soft cloth after fishing to remove bait residue and corrosive saltwater. The spool can also be removed and ran under a tap to remove salt from the line. A paintbrush can also be useful to remove sand from the reel, particularly around the handle and star drag. Anglers should periodically check the bearings for oil and add more if necessary, as well as checking the brake blocks if they are present. Many anglers disassemble their reel for an annual service with the internal mechanisms and oil being checked over. Most tackle dealers, reel specialists and sea angling shops will offer a reel service for anglers who do not have the knowledge or confidence to disassemble and service their multiplier reel themselves.

Rig and Terminal Tackle Care

Sea fishing rigs are designed to be re-used, and many sea fishing rigs can be used for many fishing sessions before they become too damaged or worn out. However, the shore is a harsh environment and if a rig has been physically damaged by being dragged across rocks or sand it may be necessary to replace parts of the rig or dispose of the entire rig if it is too badly damaged.

Sandy Beach
Sandy beaches cause the least damage to rigs and terminal tackle components.

Generally, anglers fishing over sandy beaches will see the least damage done to their rigs and have the highest chance of re-using them, while anglers fishing from rock marks may have to replace their rigs more often. Rocks can cause cuts and abrasion damage to the line, and the points to hooks can also become blunted if they catch on rocks, while dragging rigs through seaweed and out of snags can also cause hooks to become bent and misshapen.

Clipped down rig
Rigs should be carefully checked for damage after every fishing session.

Once a fishing session is over anglers should check over all of the rigs that have been used and assess the state of the rig and decide whether it can be re-used. Since saltwater will adversely affect even the highest quality components it is a good idea to immerse the entire rig in fresh water and then use kitchen roll to dry it off. This will help to remove all of the salt and keep the components in good condition. The next step is to visually inspect the rig. Swivels should be checked to ensure that they still rotate freely and links and clips should be undamaged. Following this, both the rig body line and hooklengths should be checked for cuts, nicks and abrasion. Damaged hooklengths can be removed and replaced, while a damaged rig body will mean that the whole rig needs to be replaced (although the individual hooks, swivels and other terminal tackle components can be reused). Hooks should be carefully checked to ensure that they have not become misshapen and the points are still razor-sharp. If the points have become slightly blunted they can be restored to sharpness with a sharpening stone, but more serious damage will require the hook to be replaced. Once rigs have been fully checked over – and any damaged components have been replaced – the rig can be put back into a rig wallet, ready for the next fishing session.

Care for Spinners and Lures

It is inevitable that spinners will show signs of damage after being used.

The hooks on spinners and lures can easily become bent and blunted through contact with rocks or when being pulled through snags or seaweed. Anglers should therefore check the hooks and swivels on all lures to ensure that they are still in good condition. Saltwater will have a corrosive effect on metal spinners, as well as split rings, links and hooks attached to plastic or wooden plugs. Anglers should therefore rinse all lures in fresh water after a fishing session and dry them off with kitchen roll before storing them away for the next fishing session. However, it is inevitable that when anglers use lures to fish harsh, rocky marks then the paint will become chipped, shiny lacquer coatings will become dulled and additions such as eyes and feathers will fall off. Spinners which have been used several times and no longer look their best are still likely to catch fish, but it is up to an angler’s personal judgment to decide when a spinner has become so damaged that it needs replacing.