Keeping your gear clean will help make your gear last longer and work better. This means keeping all your gear clean. There are a lot of opinions on how to clean your gear but here are a few of mine to “keep in your backpack”.
Let’s start with one of the less obvious – your rod. Every so often you should check your rod for cracks, breaks in the guides and so forth but you should also keep it clean. It will probably get the most dirt or ‘gunk’ around the guides due to the line running in and out at these points, depositing gunk from the water in those locations. Take a rag or soft tooth brush and lightly scrub these areas. A little non-abrasive soap will help with the job. Make sure you clean around the reel seat to get the small particles of sand and grit removed from the locking threads. Next clean your cork handle. I found that ‘Mr. Clean Magic Eraser’ works great for this – don’t use sandpaper.
The reel should be cleaned in clear, fresh water. Adding a very small amount of dish soap would be ok since most drags are sealed. Just make sure you rinse well in clean clear water. Set out to dry – don’t put back the reel case until dry.
Your fly line should be cleaned at least once per year. Since we fish all year round here you’ll just have to do it when you think of it. I use a rag and warm water with just a touch of dish soap. Be careful when you pull your line off the reel to clean it that it doesn’t get tangled. I wipe down sections of the line as I reel it back on the reel. You can also use fly line conditioner after you clean your line. Follow their instructions.
Waders and boots should be cleaned after every use. I rinse my boots out making sure I get all the sand and grit out and that the bottoms are clean. I wash my waders in a tub with ‘Dawn” dish soap. I hold the opening closed and swish the waders up and down for about 4-5 minutes, rinse and dry hanging up. Store your waders before your next trip by hanging them up. Never wad them in a ball or fold them. Cleaning them after every trip keeps the “breathable waders” breathable.
One last tip on cleaning your flies. Cleaning your flies???? Actually, what I really mean is make sure your flies and fly boxes are perfectly dry after every trip or your flies will rust. Rusty flies are lost flies. If you fell in, if you went in too deep or if it rained, make sure you dry your flies when you get home with a hair dryer. If you have any other ideas for cleaning your equipment, please feel free to add them to our Forum.