fishing reel repair

How To Take Care of Saltwater Fishing Tackle

The pre-season is the right time to take care of your saltwater tackle and figure out what you want to upgrade, what needs repair and what needs maintenance. The attention you give your saltwater tackle before the season will help you avoid the disappointment that inconsistent drags, cracked ceramic inserts, and bent reel seats can produce.

Reel Maintenance

Reels, in particular, can be intimidating; for some of us, the inside of a reel looks about as simple as a Swiss watch.

tackle maintenance
Steve Cook the saltwater Edge Sr Executive Vice President of Rods and Reels work bench

The fact is the saltwater environment is particularly hard on tackle; the fish pull harder, salt is uniquely corrosive, and there are gunwales and rocks to provide an additional beating.

With reels, simple regular maintenance will go a long way toward extending the life and overall performance. Lightly rinsing your gear with fresh water after each saltwater trip is a great habit. If that didn’t happen do it as part of your pre-season preparation. Don’t use high water pressure as it will drive the salt and sand into the reel.

Reel maintenance starts with proper lubrication. Use the oil that came with the reel or a quality after-market brand. Focus on ball bearings and metal bushings as they tend to collect water and salt, leading to corrosion and seizure if not oiled. Depending on how often you use your equipment, be sure to oil or lube the external moving parts (handle, line roller, and bail) with a quality synthetic reel oil or lube. Remember that too much is almost as bad as not enough, so apply lubricants sparingly.

Don’t Forget the Drag

Finally, when you rack your saltwater tackle, back off the drag knob on the reel all the way off until there is no tension on the spool, otherwise you may compress and warp your drag washers, which will render them useless in no time.

We have had good results with Corrosion X as a light lubricant and Cal’s Universal Reel Grease for gears and drags. If it is a Van Staal reel and you want to service it yourself you can purchase the appropriately sized Van Staal Service Kit 100/150 and 200/250/275 to do the job. Or send it out to a Van Staal Service Center and River’s End and Saltwaters Tackle are two of the best (download required paperwork here)

Reel Wizard = Steve Cook

If you conclude your reels need to be reconditioned we know just the guy for the job. Steve Cook is the Sr Executive Vice President of Rods and Reels at the Saltwater Edge and has extensive experience with most reel models, maintains an extensive parts inventory and is above all else meticulous. We have had many customers comment upon return of their reels. “Wow, I never would have thought it would turn out this good” “That’s unreal. I thought that reel was a goner.”

After…

Steve evaluates the reel and communicates with you as to the extent of work required. With your “go ahead” he breaks it down and cleans it completely.

We are confident you will be impressed by the condition of you refurbished reel. If you are interested in Steve’s services, just bring the reels to the shop, and we will do the rest. Turn around time is about a couple weeks. Most reels cost $25 to service, clean, lubricate and reassemble completely. More complicated cases will be discussed in advance

Rod Maintenance

Of all your saltwater tackle your rods probably take the biggest beating. So start by washing the entire rod with soap and fresh water. A quick rinse in the shower is an easy way to get this done. With multi-piece rods be sure that the ferrules are clean. Wipe down the male ferrules and apply a little grease or candle wax. Use a Q-tip to make sure the female ferrules are free of dirt and grit.

Examine the guides for scratches as this will be the nidus for rust over time. If it’s a favorite rod, you might want the replace the guide.
Next, examine the ceramic inserts themselves to be sure none are missing or cracked. The best way to do this is to run a cotton ball or ladies nylon hose through each one to see if it snags. The tip top seems most susceptible to this kind of damage as even anglers who know better occasionally crank the terminal hardware into the rod tip.


You can clean cork handles with warm water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid and elbow grease; it doesn’t take much to look good. You can lightly sand the stained areas of the grip if you choose.

Rod Repair Man = Ted Zack

Ted Zack of Aquidneck Island Rod Builders does quality work and would be happy to complete needed repairs. Just drop the rod off, and Ted will get it turned around promptly.

Get Your Saltwater Tackle Ready

A little pre-season attention will ensure trouble-free operation, save you some money, and make you ready to make memories this season.

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