Saltwater Fishing Tackle Maintenance Tips

Fishing with a new spinning reel is a treat. Even the cheapest reel works well when it’s new, but unfortunately they don’t hold up very well for very long — this is especially true if it’s used in saltwater. However, even the most expensive equipment requires maintenance or it won’t last either. Here are some saltwater fishing tackle maintenance tips.

When I buy a new reel the first thing I do is add some grease. A tackle shop owner once told me that reel manufacturers use a minimal amount of grease in new reels because reel boxes with grease stains don’t sell. I don’t know whether that’s fact or myth, but I give every new reel a shot of grease before I use it, and my reels hold up exceptionally well.

A shot of reel grease will improve perfomance even with brand new reels out of the box.

I buy the little tubes of reel grease you find in sporting goods stores, and a small tube lasts a long time. On most reels you don’t even have to take the side plate off; on the reels I use, there is an access hole in the back of the reel, covered by a gold colored plastic plate.

Coil springs have mostly replaced the leaf-style bail springs and I have yet to break one, so spring replacement is no longer a concern. The area on the bail that is subject to failure is the line roller. I like to lube the roller on a regular basis with 3-in-1 oil, and I check them every time I use them. If the roller sticks it is going to increase line wear, and if you fish with microfilament it may even cut into the roller. If that happens, you have to replace the roller because it will eventually shred your fishing line — especially under strain. And that’s absolutely the worst way to lose a good fish.

A nice finish is a spray coating of silicone, and a drop of oil on the line roller and the reel handle.

After every fishing trip I give my rods and reels a light spray with fresh water. You don’t want to blast it with a garden hose full force, as that will put water where it’s not supposed to be, and even fresh water can be corrosive. I keep a can of silicone spray on hand and give the reels a light spray. This will displace water and keep the handle from chirping like a bird. I also keep a small can of spray in my tackle box, along with a container of oil and a tube of reel grease, because there is nothing like fishing with a smooth functioning reel.

The rods also need a butt-to-tip light rinse after every trip. Even stainless steel guides can rust due to the interaction with the aluminum oxide that’s used in most guide rings on store bought rods. A light rinse and an occasional spray with silicone will keep them in service for years. It will also help to keep the blank looking like new. However, even a sun-bleached blank can be made to look new again with a light coat of oil, or car wax, or even furniture polish.

A light rinse with fresh water will extend the life of your tackle, particularly saltwater tackle.

Rod tips fail more often than the rest of the guides because they take the most punishment. I have spares in my tackle box, and a tube of super glue for emergency repairs. Sometimes a guide will separate from the wrap. When that happens all you need is a drop of glue on the guide foot, slide it back under the wrap and it’s good to go.

I store my rods in a homemade ceiling rack. This keeps them in sight, but out of the way and off the floor. Rods and reels should be kept out of direct sunlight when not used for fishing. Direct sunlight is particularly tough on monofilament, and it’s also hard on guide wraps and blank finishes. But the biggest benefit of storing rods on the ceiling is they can’t get stepped on or run over up there.

Take care of your equipment, and it will take care of you!

Find a fine assortment of fishing tackle at Sportsman’s Guide.

Captain Fred Everson has been a licensed fishing guide on Tampa Bay in Florida for 13 years. He has also written three books, and is a 20-year active member of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America. You can visit his website for more information at

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.