How to Clean Fly Reel

How to Clean Fly Reel

It is a known fact that cleanliness precedes godliness and that is why it is very important that we clean our fishing equipment especially fly reel after use. When we do this, we will enjoy our fly reel with last long durability. In fact, a dirty fly reel is no go area.

So in this article, I will be taking us through how to clean fly reel and how to lubricate every moving part of the fly reel. But before we go into talking about the cleaning process, I will like to first highlight what is needed for the cleaning.

Materials needed for cleaning fly reel

Though the making of fly reels may vary very slightly between manufacturers, the items listed below will cover how to clean fly reel for almost all modern reels of today. Even for most reels, you may not need a screwdriver.

  • Water
  • Screwdriver
  • Detergent or mild soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Sink or bucket
  • Q-Tips or Cotton Swabs
  • Plastic safe grease or rubber

Having known all the materials needed to clean fly reel, now let talk about how to clean fly reel.

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Disassembling fly reel

The first thing to do when you want to clean fly reel is to disassemble the fly reel. Note that when you’re doing this you keep track of the order of removal of the parts so that it won’t be difficult when reassembling.

Step 1:

Firstly remove the arbor or spool that holds the fly line and backing from the reel frame. It is done by removing from the center of the arbor a fastener called spool retainer.

Step 2:

Once the screw is removed, the arbor will slide off the frame itself. Though it may take a little effort if it’s been a while you remove the arbor. Set the spool aside and rinse clean in soapy water.

Step 3:

If O-ring is in your fly reel, remove it now and rinse with clean water

Step 4:

Remove the fastener screw and allow the plastic spindle to slide off the metal shaft to expose the bearing. You can then set the plastic spindle aside for later cleaning. Remove the bearing as well for cleaning.

Guideline: Best Fly Reel For The Money

Cleaning fly reel

Now that we have completely disassembled the fly reel, let go straight to the cleaning proper.

Step 1:

Add a little bit of detergent to warm water in a bucket. Note that a small amount of mild soap is needed.

Step 2:

Then gently wipe with a toothbrush all the dirt and old grease from the disassembled parts. The old electric toothbrush is recommended for this action as it vibrations effectively loosen and remove all dirt between the tiny roller bearings.

Step 3:

It’s advisable that all surfaces must be dry so that when lubrication is applied it won’t cause rust or oxidation. So at this stage, we will dry all our fly reel parts.

Lubrication of fly reel

Because fly reel has moving parts, it’s essential that it is lubricated to prevent wear and reduce friction. Two main parts to lubricate, main shaft and one-way bearing assembly.

Step 1:

On the main shaft of the fly reel, apply a light coating of grease. You can use a small cotton swab or finger to apply.

Step 2:

On the bearing assembly, apply a liberal coating of grease. This is to ensure that a sufficient amount of grease is packed into nooks and crannies between all the tiny roller bearings.

Coupling of fly reel

Now that we have successfully cleaned our fly reel, let now put it back together.

Step 1:

On the lubricated metal shaft, slide the bearing assembly and wipe off all excess grease.

Step 2:

Slide the plastic spindle back to the main assembly. Also, slide the spool back to the main shaft.

Step 3:

If your fly reel has a separate spindle, replace the spindle retention screw that was removed earlier.

Step 4:

Slide back the spool over the spindle assembly and also replace spool retainer and the o-ring.

Now that we are done with the cleaning, we can now inspect the fly line and backing.

Also Read: Best Saltwater Spinning Reel Under 100 Doller

Additional cleaning measure

  • Always use fresh, clean water to rinse fly reel before storing
  • Between the backing and the spool, try to add a layer of Carnauba wax for extra defense against corrosion and moisture.
  • Store your fly reel dry always
  • Don’t ever place the fly reel in sand or mud. It’s better put on your shoulder.


Depending on how well you treat your equipment, it is advisable that you clean your fly reel more than once in a year. You will also see the benefits attached to a good cleaning of fly reel. Though the degradation process may not be so obvious when you freshly clean your fly reel, you will also see the difference.

Related Resource:

How to Spool Fly Reel

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