Combating Saltwater Corrosion in Reels

Monday, February 09, 2015 , , 9 Comments

Few could argue that fishing Saltwater pushes us as anglers to our limits. The fish often are bigger, fight harder, and the seascape captivating. Yet saltwater fishing presents its own unique challenges to our gear, specifically saltwater easily corrodes metal and will ruin your new $200 reel without much thought. However, corrosion is not inevitable and there are steps you can take. First and foremost, rinse your reel after each use with fresh cold water. Secondly, periodically remove the spool and wipe down exposed parts with baby shampoo and then rinse in cold water, dry. Doing this will go a long way in preventing corrosion, yet invariably we all have days when we are in a hurry or just forget to take the extra maintenance steps required after fishing saltwater and corrosion does occur. Is there anything you can do then? Well yes and no, if it has gone on too long your reel is probably ruined, but if you catch it early enough there are some things you can do to minimize the damage from corrosion. First, take the reel apart and liberally spray WD-40 on the parts, allow to soak overnight. Secondly, rinse in cold water and allow to fully dry. Third, place parts in a plastic or glass bowl filled with enough white vinegar to cover them fully, add baking soda and allow the reaction to take place. When the reaction is complete rinse parts in cold water, dry, and reapply grease. From experience, I had to get just one more trip to the water before heading to the airport, the above steps saved a reel which was barely serviceable to one which was performing at 80-90%. Obviously the efficacy of the above steps will depend on the amount of damage already done and some reels will not be able to be saved, that said it takes little time and money to try it and the result could save you a lot of money. Daily and regular maintenance are paramount to fishing in saltwater but hopefully if you do start to find corrosion you can at least minimize the damage. Good luck out there and tight lines. 


Great advice on a fly fishing technique I am not that familiar with, saltwater fishing and caring for the equipment.
I think my best bet at saltwater fly fishing would be to hire a guide and use his equipment. I have to admit I'm not a bench person, but it would give me something to do while my wife is on the beech. Thanks for adding this to my bucket list!!

CARF said...

Great advice. My first and only salt water trip came last year, and after each outing I soaked my reel, rod, and grips in the tub and sink, then gave them a wipe down, and then soaked them in the water, again....then repeating it another step later on in the morning.

I thought I might have been overdoing it, but better safe than sorry!

Atlas said...

Oh I don't think you can overdue it, fishing gear is not cheap and you would hate to ruin the end of an awesome trip by destroying gear.

looknfishy said...

Great advice. I'll add, after a trip I place my reels in the shower and let them soak in the steam, to dissolve the salt...never spray them as that forces the salt deeper.

cofisher said...

Salt water? We don't fish no stinkin' salt water!

Atlas said...

Good points to add Drew, I had meant to add the no spraying point and forgot so I am glad you did and I really like the steam idea, I will try that next time.

John said...

Excellent advice shared here. Many years since I have been sea fishing and ensuring the tackle was cleaned after each trip was religiously done upon the return, before anything else was done.

Nadeem said...

Great advice on a fly fishing technique I am not that familiar with, saltwater fishing and caring for the equipment.

I always love to read about the water reels. and this blog almost sharing about all the best saltwater fishing reels