Home Fishing Tips & Advice Do Fishing Reels Rust?

Do Fishing Reels Rust?

Fishing reels rust, regardless if you are fishing in freshwater or saltwater, however, this is especially true in regards to saltwater due to high salt concentration.

Water is the enabler of fast oxidation of iron, and saltwater accelerates the production of rust since it is a good conductor. The process of rusting involves electrons moving around, and electrons move more easily in saltwater than they do in clean water.

If iron is in contact with salt water, and also in contact with another metal such as aluminum (also in contact with the water), you practically get a battery that drives very fast corrosion processes. 

This effect can be reversed by using a metal, like zinc for example, which causes the current to be reversed and in effect the zinc corrodes rapidly, protecting the iron. This is the principle of a ‘Cal-rod’ which is used to slow the rusting of hot water tanks.

Fortunately, when it comes to fishing reels, things are a bit simpler, you just have to keep it clean. Through the use of corrosion block sprays, as fishing reels degrade due to corrosion, and this can slow down the bearings and gears. It is cheaper to maintain a reel than replace it, and here is how.

What to Use in Order to Clean a Fishing Reel

Before you get into the cleaning process of your fishing reel, make sure you have the right tools and materials on hand. Here are a couple of things that you will need:

  • Small screwdrivers
  • Box of toothpicks
  • A pair of tweezers
  • One old toothbrush
  • A small wrench
  • Rod cleaning products

Among the best fishing rod cleaning products are the Abu Garcia Revo Shop Neoprene Cover, Ardent Reel Kleen, or the PENN Reel Oil and Lube Angler Pack, among many others. You can also use standard lighter fluid which might also break down excess grime on the rod and reel.

Now, it is time for the cleaning process. If you used the reel in saltwater, you have to start cleaning it as soon as you get home. You have to cut off the line that was used, remove the reel from the rod, and spray the reel down with fresh water and wipe it.

Now, you have to get the toothbrush and get into the tight spots and be sure to rinse the brush off thoroughly. After a good scrub down, rinse the reel off and dry everything, make sure it is dry since if you store it wet, you won’t prevent corrosion.

Don’t forget, when you use the light cleaner, you shouldn’t soak the equipment, and you have to make sure to rinse all the cleaner off thoroughly.

After you finished and everything is dry, you now have to spray the reel with a reel oil, among the best are the Penn Reel Oil, WD40, or Ardent Reel Butter Oil.

How Often to Clean a Fishing Reel

Every time you go fishing in saltwater, you have to clean your fishing reel on the same day, and when it comes to freshwaters, it is best to clean your fishing reel once every five trips. Remember, saltwater is extremely corrosive for your equipment, and you should wash the equipment as soon as possible to avoid corrosion.

When you have the time, it’s a great idea to do a full-service job on your reel, taking everything apart and cleaning each piece using small brushes, and washing everything separately. This process can also be done by professionals if you don’t have the time.

You only have to do this once per year so it’s not a big deal, however, it will amaze you how long your fishing gear will last if you stick to this. Not only will it last longer this way, but the equipment will operate at its best as well. Take care of your fishing reel, and it too will take care of you.

How to Get the Rust Off of a Fishing Reel

The process of getting rid of the rust off a fishing reel is similar to a full-service job, in the fact that you have to mostly take everything apart. Make sure you have a soft brass and nylon brush.

Regardless of the material used, it is best to be soft as it can damage the metal, start off gentle, and move your way more coarse but only if it is absolutely necessary.

You also need to have a spray lubricant, such as the WD-40, CorrosionX, or QMaxx Salt, for example. Apply the spray on the fishing reel, and then use the nylon brush first. 

Now your fishing reel won’t necessarily look like it is brand new when you’re done, but it will certainly look better, and the rust will no longer be there. Now all you have to do is try to avoid this from happening again, as one day, you won’t be able to do much, and you will need to invest in a new reel.

Keep your fishing reel clean as minerals and vegetation can accumulate on it throughout the day, especially as the line runs in. You can keep your reel clean quite easily, even when you are fishing. The secret is to make it a habit, just like brushing your teeth, because if you don’t, well, its gonna be painful and costly, and frustrating, especially when you will lose a big catch if your gear breaks.

Did You Know?

– The first fishing reel in America was invented by the Kentucky native, George Snyder in 1820. It was a bait casting design and it became popular quite fast with American anglers.

– The fishing reel was invented during the Song dynasty in China. Here, the earliest illustrations of a fishing reel is from paintings and records that date back to around 1195 AD.

– Fishing reels appeared in England around the year 1695 AD.

– There are 4 types of fishing reels, the spin cast, baitcasting, spinning, and fly reels. Each of them requires a different level of skill and function.