Saltwater anglers invest a small fortune (and many of us even staggering ones!) in fishing tackle, more specifically in rods and reels. Surprisingly, just a small percentage will go the extra mile and provide the TLC these outfits need to perform flawlessly season after season. Given the price tags on some of the more sophisticated reels and rods, I'm astounded when I see such gear banging against the gunwales of a boat, getting doused with salt water, being washed and stored improperly, or getting spooled up with old and compromised fishing line.
Following is a tackle-care list I adhere to whether I'm crossing to the Bahamas or chasing inshore game fish a couple of miles from the boat ramp. Practice these tips, and you can be confident your tackle will be in perfect shape to handle anything a trophy fish can dish out.
The proper way to wash a reel at the end of the day has always made for great debate. That being said, the late Dean Hicks - a former Fort Myers, Florida, tackle-shop and reel repair-center owner - took such a chore personally. Dean O, as he was affectionately called, had cleaned and repaired thousands of reels in his day, and he'd come up with bulletproof techniques for cleaning and caring for reels.
Dean O warned you should never use of any kind of pressure when rinsing reels, like aiming a hose or spray nozzle directly at a reel; this forces salt, sand and dirt into the reel. Instead, he recommended a simple and very light freshwater rinse at the end of each fishing trip. This goes for the rods, guides and reel seats. After rinsing and drying a reel, Dean O applied a light coat of lubricant to the reel and its components. And since many products can break down the properties of fishing line, he had his three favorites: Super Slick Slick Stuff, Reel Magic and CorrosionX. Although with the last, he advised using it sparingly and with great care, as it can damage some reel finishes and rubber seals.
One final tip on rinsing reels: Advance the drags - especially on spinning reels - which will prevent water from seeping into these systems. It's also wise to hold a spinning reel upside down (drag toward the ground) when rinsing, giving water even less of an opportunity to invade the reel. Then, when the reels have been dried and wiped down with a lubricant, back off the drags to store the outfits.