How to Care for Your Saltwater Gear

Discover how to clean a fishing reel, rod and tackle with these service and maintenance tips from Captain Blair Wiggins.

Clean fishing gear is happy fishing gear. Keeping your saltwater rods, reels and tackle free of salt buildup can help extend the longevity of your equipment. Pro saltwater fisherman Captain Blair Wiggins has some insightful tips and tricks on how to keep your saltwater equipment clean and working right.

It’s important to clean your saltwater fishing tackle because not only does it keep your equipment looking good, it can help keep it from rusting out as well. Saltwater can corrode metal faster than freshwater, which causes problems for negligent fishermen. “Salt can get into the gears. It’ll get into your drag. It gets into your little crevices all up in here,” Wiggins says, pointing to the guides of the fishing rod. To help keep your equipment in working condition, it’s in every angler’s best interest to clean their saltwater setup after every fishing trip.


To clean your saltwater fishing equipment, first remove the reel from your rod and break down the components so that you can efficiently get to every surface. Use fresh, clean water to help dissolve any salt buildup. Gently spritz or rinse your equipment to remove the grime, but never harshly spray or submerge your gear. Doing so can push salt and sand into unwanted areas, like the nooks and crannies of your reel or the eyelets of your guides. Don’t forget to wipe down the spool, and remove any line that was used that day.

After rinsing your fishing gear, dry everything with a cotton cloth. Once every piece is thoroughly free of moisture, go ahead and reassemble your saltwater fishing setup. Be sure to add new fishing line to your reel and re-lubricate the gears, if necessary.

You should conduct a proper cleaning routine with every rod and reel you have on the boat with you, not just the setup you used to hook your catch of the day. “If your rod has just been on the boat, there’s spray that can come onto that rod and really mess it up,” Wiggins says. “Not only will they rust out, they will not catch fish when they’re not working right.”


You should also pay attention to the lures you use on your saltwater fishing adventure. To help prevent the hooks from corroding and to keep your entire tackle box rust free, wash your lures with fresh water after each use and blot dry with a sponge. Store your used lures in a separate box until they are completely dry to prevent other baits from picking up salt from the briny depths.

Having a well-maintained and clean arsenal of saltwater fishing gear can help you keep casting lines season after season. Set your sights on your next great fishing story and take proper care of your equipment with these useful Pro Tips.