As with all your fly fishing gear, it is essential that you care for your reel to ensure it is able to serve you well for years to come. Fly fishing reels are intricately made and have many small internal components that can be vulnerable to dirt, grit, sand, and of course corrosion. If your reel has a sealed drag system, some of these components may be protected, but care should be taken nonetheless, and it is important to get into good habits when it comes to caring for your reel. So, what exactly do you need to do to keep your reel in peak condition? We’ve made it easier than ever by highlighting a few key points below.
Take care when fishing
Obviously, if you’re creeping along a river bank stalking a huge rainbow, you’ve got more on your mind than ensuring you don’t scrape your reel on a rock. However, it’s important to look after your reel as much as you can while you’re fishing. Just make sure you try and keep it out of the water wherever possible, and do your best not to knock it against rocks or your boat. Even small dents and scrapes can be damaging, as they expose the layers of bare metal which is vulnerable to corrosion.
Sand and dirt = enemy number one
There are lots of times, such as when you’re changing flies, where you will want to sit your rod butt and reel down in the sand or dirt. Avoid doing this, as small sand or dirt particles can make their way inside the reel, causing damage to the inner housing, drag discs and even the ball bearings. To avoid this, always sit your reel on something clean, such as a towel or cloth, while you are not holding it.
Rinse your reel immediately!
When you have finished fishing, rinse your reel in freshwater at your earliest possible convenience. This is of course particularly important if you are fishing in saltwater, and you may even like to carry a bottle of freshwater around with you so that you can give your reel a good rinse when you’re done. If you’re using a tap or hosepipe, make sure you only use a low pressure, as too much water pressure could cause structural damage to the reel. After rinsing, remove the spool, shake out any excess water, and leave it all to dry before reassembling.
Clean thoroughly prior to storage
If the end of the season has arrived, or you’ve just returned from a week-long saltwater fly fishing trip, your reel may be about to be stored for a few months until its next use. If this is the case, make sure you give your reel a thorough cleaning prior to storing it. To do this, you’ll need to remove the line and backing, and scrub thoroughly with soapy warm water before rinsing and drying with a warm cloth. You don’t need to soak the reel, and in fact this can actually cause the reel to rust. You may also want to take this as an opportunity to apply new grease according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Store your reel properly
The best way to store a fly fishing reel (particularly important for saltwater reels) is empty. Backing can be left on the reel, as long as it has been thoroughly cleaned and dried. The drag should be loosened completely when the reel is not in use, and reels should be stored on a shelf or in a cabinet, but not in any sort of pouch or case. These are great for transporting your reel and keeping it safe in transit, but if the reel is stored for long periods of time in such an item then it can lead to a buildup of moisture.
There you have it – by following this advice you should be able to keep your favorite fly fishing reel in peak condition, and serving you well for plenty of years to come. The bonus advice that I would offer is to make sure you buy from a reputable distributor or brand. Check out their warranty and return policies. I also recommend ALWAYS buying local. Even if it is a online retailers like Fishwest or Backcountry. Not only do you keep it in the family but companies like amazon don’t have the experience to tell you the best reel for your situation.