Easy 6-Step Guide: How To Clean Bait Caster Reel Like a Pro

how to clean bait caster reel

Bait caster reels are an essential tool for any angler, providing smooth, accurate casting and retrieval of lines. However, over time, dirt, grime, and salt buildup can affect the performance of your reel, leading to frustrating tangles and lost fish. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your bait caster reel will help keep it in top condition and ensure a successful fishing trip. In this guide, we will go over the steps for how to clean bait caster reel and keep it functioning smoothly.

“People fish because they are searching for something. Often it is not for a fish.”

― Fennel Hudson, Fly Fishing – Fennel’s Journal – No. 5

How To Clean Bait Caster Reel

Cleaning a bait casting reel is an important step in maintaining its performance and extending its lifespan. Here are the steps to clean a bait casting reel:

  • Disassemble the reel
  • Clean the exterior
  • Clean the spool
  • Clean the interior
  • Lubricate the reel
  • Reassemble the reel

Here you can find the detailed answer on how to clean baitcaster reel; 

Disassemble The Reel

To disassemble the reel, you will need a set of screwdrivers, pliers, and a clean cloth. This will make it easier to access all the components for cleaning. Now follow the steps to disassemble the reel to clean bait caster reel;

  • Remove the handle
  • Take off the side plate
  • Disconnect the spool
  • Remove the drag system
  • Clean and inspect the components
  • Reassemble the reel
  • Test the reel

Clean The Exterior 

To clean baitcaster reel use a soft cloth or rag to wipe down the exterior of the reel, removing any dirt or debris. You can use a mild soap solution or reel cleaner to help remove any grime or buildup. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any dirt, grime, or salt buildup on the surface of the spool. For tougher buildup, you can use a mild soap solution.

Clean The Spool

Clean the spool by removing any line and wiping it down with a soft cloth. Be sure to remove any line residue or buildup, especially in the line guides. Using a soft cloth to clean bait caster reel, clean the inside of the spool and the spool shaft. If necessary, you can use a toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach areas. Now, clean the bearings by using a soft cloth and a mild soap solution to clean the ball bearings.

Clean The Interior

To clean bait caster reel use a soft cloth or toothbrush to clean the inside of the reel, including the gears, bearings, and other internal components. You can use a mild soap solution or reel cleaner to help loosen any dirt or debris. Use a toothbrush and mild soap solution to remove any dirt, debris, and old grease from the gears. Rinse with clean water and let dry. Also, clean the brake system by wiping the brake components clean with a soft cloth. Apply a small amount of brake lubricant to clean bait caster reel or the brake pads, making sure to cover all surfaces.

Lubricate The Reel

After cleaning the reel, it’s important to lubricate it to ensure smooth operation. Use a high-quality fishing reel oil or lubricant and apply a small amount of fishing reel oil to the ball bearings, making sure to cover all surfaces.

Reassemble The Reel 

Once the reel is cleaned and lubricated, reassemble all the parts and make sure everything is properly aligned and tightened. It’s a good idea to clean bait caster reel after every use, or at least once a year. Regular cleaning will help prevent corrosion and wear and tear, and ensure that your reel is always performing at its best.

What should I use to clean my bait caster?

It is important to take your time and be gentle when cleaning your bait caster to avoid damaging any of the delicate parts. For cleaning a bait caster, you can use the following items:

Warm Water

Use warm water to rinse off any dirt, grime, or residue from the reel and handle.

Mild Soap

Mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water and use a soft cloth to clean the reel. Bypass operating rough chemicals for sweeping agents.

A Toothbrush Or Small Brush

Use a toothbrush or small brush to clean hard-to-reach areas and remove any debris from the gear mechanism. And, use a soft cloth to dry the reel after cleaning. 

Light Oil

Lightly oil the gear mechanism and other moving parts to keep them functioning smoothly.

Now, apply reel grease to the drag washer and other areas that require lubrication.


In conclusion, cleaning a baitcaster reel is a crucial step in ensuring its longevity and performance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully get an answer on how to clean baitcaster reel. Now, clean your baitcaster reel and keep it in top condition for years to come. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, taking the time to clean your reel regularly will help you avoid costly repairs and improve your fishing experience. So, grab your supplies and get to work – your baitcaster will thank you for it!


How do you maintain a bait casting reel?

By performing these maintenance steps, you can keep your baitcasting reel functioning smoothly and extend its lifespan. Here are some steps to maintain a baitcasting reel:
Checking the brakes
Replacing worn parts

How often do you need to clean a bait caster?

The frequency of cleaning a baitcaster will vary depending on several factors, including how frequently it is used, the type of fishing being done, and the conditions in which it is used. In general, it is recommended to clean your baitcaster after every fishing trip. If you are fishing in saltwater, it is essential to clean the reel thoroughly to prevent corrosion. If you fish in freshwater, you may not need to clean the reel as often, but it is still a good idea to give it a quick wipe-down after each trip.

In any case, it’s important to keep an eye on the performance of your bait caster, and if you notice any changes or problems, it’s a good idea to take it apart and give it a good cleaning.

How to remove the spool from the bait caster?

Open the side cover: Most bait casters have a side cover that you need to open to access the spool. This cover is typically located on the side of the reel and opens with a simple latch.

Release the brake: Before removing the spool, you need to release the brake system on the baitcaster. The brake system helps control the spool speed, and it needs to be turned off before you can remove the spool.

Remove the spool retainer:
Once the brake is off, you’ll need to locate the spool retainer. This is typically a small screw that holds the spool in place. Unscrew the retainer and lift it away from the spool.

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