Maintaining Your Gear

Maintaining Your Gear

So, for years, you have been listening to me talk about preparing for your fly-fishing trip/excursion. From practicing and developing casting skills to packing for your trip of, hopefully, a lifetime. Whether it is a trip to the Texas coast for a trophy red or trout or to an exotic location for whatever species, it is important to have your equipment in top-notch condition.

Going forward, I’m going to share with you as many “tips” that my 22 years of full-time guiding and traveling have taught me about maintaining my equipment.


Well, actually, rods are easy. First, wash and rinse in hot water every chance you get. You will see, there will be a theme that will be repeated (hot water) over and over. There are few things that will cut/dissolve salt anywhere near as well as hot water.

Another thing to consider is buying only rods that are equipped with titanium guides. They will not corrode; therefore, less maintenance is required.

Two final thoughts in regard to rods- Wax your reel seat threads and rod ferrules with paraffin-based wax. And, every now and again, run a Q-tip through the guides to make sure that there are no burrs or cracks in the eye-rings that will damage your line or leader. If there are burrs, the fine cotton threads will snag the imperfection with a simple wipe.


In regard to reels, this is one of the most complicated of them all. For years I came in from a fishing trip and sprayed my rods and reels with the water hose, and even started doing it with HOT water to cut the salt. Again, there are few things that will remove salt. Hot water is one of them.

The problem with spraying reels with water is that you drive the salt into cracks and crevices, possibly creating the opportunity for corrosion to occur inside. And while even a light misting with hot water does some good, it also can dissolve oils and greases that keep your reel operating to its full potential and can cause problems down the line by washing away essential lubrication for your drag and bearings. Firsthand experience, by the way.

Throughout my years, I have learned that to clean a reel, you should just wipe it down with a washcloth that has been run under hot tap water. However, I may have recently found a better way.

Rumor has it, at least until I discover otherwise - a solution of 90% water and 10% hydrogen peroxide will do an incredible job of cutting the salt from not only your fly reels, but also your baitcasters and spinning reels. I am currently testing this “information” and am ridiculously pleased with the results thus far. I am currently using this solution in a mist bottle that I warm before use (not heat) and then drying with paper towels. It seems to work well.

Moving on, I also want to talk about maintenance of the drags and bearing on your reels. First off, do not, and I repeat- DO NOT ever purposely dunk your reels in the water, even if you are about to take the most bad-ass photo you can dream up for insta-famous or whatever flavor of social media you prefer. Even if your reel has a sealed drag. It is highly unlikely that you will ever be able reverse the damage.

Next; I highly recommend that you buy reels with drags made only of cork. Again, my opinion, but every reel I have ever owned that was supposed to have a maintenance-free sealed drag has eventually failed. Cork drags are easily maintained with a few dabs of Neatsfoot Oil.


Let’s face it- fly lines are expensive these days. All in and all done, I have found that Scientific Angler lines are the most durable (my opinion, again) however, just about every fly line can be made to last for years with a little TLC.

First, wash your line after every fishing trip with soap and water. A paper towel and some Dawn Dish Liquid will do the trick. Strip the line from the reel and then reel the line through the paper towel soaked with a diluted solution of Dawn. Follow with a thorough rinsing – on the ground, sink or in the shower. Again, do not spray water on your reel.

Next, clean your line with either a Cortland pad or a Rio line-cleaning towelette. Afterwards, if you really want to enhance the performance of your fly line, I seriously suggest trying to get some medical grade silicone and wipe your lines with it. They will shoot further and float higher. This can sometimes be found through a pharmacy. If not, go by the local ACE Hardware store and get their branded silicone spray and saturate a paper towel with it and reel your line through it. The thicker medical grade stuff is better but the spray is better than nothing.


This is the simplest of them all. Drop your flies in your ice chest after changing or run them under some hot water in the kitchen sink. Or, better yet, do both and then dry them with a paper towel. Allow to air dry. You will ultimately spend fewer pesos on buying flies at the shop or less time at the vise. Either way, it will save you time and money.

Anyway, I hope this helps in keeping your gear at peak performance level. Coming soon, maybe…. Getting the Most from Your Fly Fishing Sled (skiff).

Best of Tides…