Clean Your Rod Right, After Fishing The Salt

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By Bruce Chard

It’s a bad feeling to pull your rod out of its sock all crusty and green.

Most anglers know to soak their reels after fly fishing in saltwater but too many guys forget to wash their rod. When heading home from a saltwater fishing adventure it is important to properly clean your rod. Leaving any salty residue on your rods can create corrosion on the guides and reel seats.
Proper cleaning insures that, the next time you pull your rod out of its sock, you don’t have corrosion dust all over, a locked up reel seat or a broken or weakened stripping guide.
Make sure to wash your rod with soap and fresh water. Many saltwater destinations in the Bahamas, Belize or Mexico don’t have the best tap water. It can be somewhat brackish. This will leave salt on your rods during storage. Use soap, then wash with fresh water to remove all the salt.
Make sure to wash your rod sock as well before you put your clean rod back in it. If you don’t wash your rod sock, you will end up having some salt left inside where your rod was stored from the trip home and the salt will then get on your freshly washed rod.
A fly rod is a serious investment and it needs to be in top condition when you hook the fish of a lifetime. Give it a good wash every time you fish the salt and it will give you years of good service.

Bruce Chard
Gink & Gasoline
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9 thoughts on “Clean Your Rod Right, After Fishing The Salt

  1. Great post and a good reminder. I’ve been in those shoes before where my reel is beginning to lock up and my guides are turning green. All because I got lazy and didn’t clean my gear after a trip in the salt. It only takes a few minutes and is well worth the effort and longevity of you investment. I have brought a reel back to life after some saltwater exposure by cleaning it and applying a small amount of whale spit brand reel oil.


  2. Even when “rinsed off” I have been horrified to see the green corrosion a month later when unsheathing the salty sword…I then made another mistake, I left the rods soaking in a tub of warm water for about an hour while I was cleaning reels and wiping down fly lines in my “spring cleaning” fit. Bad idea. water soaked into the lacquer around some of the guides and discolored the area. and surely didn’t help the metal of the foot of the guide under the wraps stay corrosion free having introduced water in a virtually inaccessible place to get it back out. Left rod out in basement for almost a week with a dehumidifier running. Did I damage the foot of the guide? Don’t know..but it was unsightly, and another “life experience”. Don’t soak your rods, ash them off with warm soapy water, then wipe them down with a terry cloth hand towel and be sure to leave them out at least overnight to let the cork grip and the water trapped in the threads of the reel seat to dry out completely before putting away in your rod tube. Worse than a little corrosion on the foot of a guide is opening a funky rod tube from a wet cork grip put away too soon. Mold/fungus/funk, bleeeech!

  3. I live in a saltwater environment and fish three to four days per week. I find that lightly spraying, both rod and reel, with a hose at the dock takes care of the issue. About every other week, I take the rods and reels in the shower and give them a good bath with warm water. Since we never have a non fishing season, I don’t store my rods and reels in socks or rod cases. Tight Lines everyone!

  4. I keep a spray bottle with “Salt X” (this is not a plug) mixed up in my clean up kit and at the end of the day, give my gear a light spraying to break up the salt. I’ve been using it for several years and haven’t seen any adverse effects to my equipment, line or my lures. (I don’t use it on my flies.) Then, at the end of the trip, I’ll break it all down, give it a quick wash and dry and put it up in the rod sacks and reel cases.

    It may sound like a little overkill but, then again when you have $800 plus invested in a single fly outfit, I think it’s worth the effort.

    Great site, keep up the good work.

  5. Pingback: Tippets: Raining Fish, Clean Your Rod Right, Deadbeat Dams | MidCurrent

  6. Another trick: wash with soap, then wipe it to dry, then wipe the sections with a thin coat silicone protector liquid with a micro fibre cloth (you’ll feel that the blank has a slippery, glossy feel). And finally, cover the metal parts (reel seat, reel locking nuts and guides) with a thin coat WD-40 and allow to dry. And you have a total corrosion protection. WD-40 is good to make an extrathin layer for your flyreels as well. Note: many people are using it to lubricate the reels – wrongly – and washed out the oil and grease from the bearings and the gearing. This is a mistake!

  7. Good Point . There are lots of things wherein we can easily forget and not sweat the small stuff. Well… When your collection of gear is more $$ than what your ride cost, I do SWEAT the SMALL Stuff!! only takes but a few min’s.

    Chow Mein for now.

  8. I wash rod and reel with soap and water with a cap full of salt away.
    Rinse real well. Fully dry then put car wax on rod. The water will sheet
    right off.

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