Protecting Your Rod

By Pat Grenier, CI, FFI Casting instructor


Casting instructor Pat Grenier provides crucial advice on caring for one’s gear. Whether you’re a saltwater enthusiast or freshwater purist, his advice must be heeded.

Good functioning equipment is imperative to our sport. Today’s saltwater (and freshwater) gear is expensive. It is a shame to ruin such investments by not caring for them properly. Over many years of experience, I have come up with some simple techniques to maintain and get years of great fishing from my equipment.

Whether you fish for a half-hour or half a day, your rod and reel still need to be taken care of. I like to wash mine with a garden hose and cold water, but not with a spray nozzle. The high-powered spray can force sand and salt deeper into the equipment. Common sense says that warm water cleans better, but it will wash away grease or oil out of the reel. I take the spray nozzle off the hose and run the water until it is cold (there is a chance the water could be warm due to the hose being out in the hot sun).

If you are fishing multiple days in a row, I recommend rinsing your rod and reel, then letting them air dry outside, but not in the sun. The sun can break down lines and even bleach the finish off of the reel. 

If a longer period of time elapses between outings, such as a few days or more, then wash and dry your rod with a soft cloth, like as a shammy. Once clean and dry,  put it back in its sock and rod tube. I also suggest removing the spool and rinsing underneath it. Air dry the spool separately and then put everything back together. If you are using multiple spools, clean them all.

Some saltwater fishermen like to rinse their flies as well before putting them back into a fly box. I suggest leaving out flies you have used or putting them back in the box upside down so you know which ones you used.

If for some reason, you get sand in your reel, I do not recommend washing it in salt water. You may want to think about sacrificing your drinking water to clean it or it might be time to call it a day and go home to rinse it off.

For long-term storage, such as during the winter months, I like to break down the reel, take the spools off, and look for any salt deposits, which would be a white powder-like substance. Use a spray oil (WD-40 works well) and a toothbrush to clean off any salt deposits. Strip the fly line off the reel, wipe with a damp cloth, and then dry it before you reel it up. Next, loosen the drag and add grease and oil as needed before you put it away. As for the rod, inspect it for damages, rinse and wipe with a shammy, and put either ferrule wax or paraffin wax on the ferrules.

Saltwater can quickly damage your fly fishing investments. Taking the appropriate steps to care for your gear after each fishing adventure will help assure that it takes care of you!