Gear Care Essentials: How To Clean Your Equipment

Spring! The joyous time of the year where you never know what the weather will hold. Could it snow? Sure! Could it rain? You betcha! Could it be 75 degrees with no wind and have BWOs popping off the local tailwater? Absolutely? Could it be 20 degrees and have 40 MPH winds the next day? Been there, done that! Will many of us make the great/poor life decisions and go fishing during any and all of these weather conditions? We are fly fisherman, so OF COURSE WE WILL FISH!

As a kid, I remember coming home from many a fishing trip with my dad and had him nudge me while in the driveway and say, “Hey, Spence, it is time to clean out the car and clean the gear.” For the longest time I resented that moment of any fishing trip. One of us, usually my dad because he is so nice, would take the boots and waders into the backyard, grab the hose, and give our gear a full washdown. I always thought as a kid that the reason why he did that was just to be able to put clean gear away.

As I’ve grown up I have come to realize that there are many more benefits to cleaning gear than just making it less stinky the next time it gets on the water. Some of the many benefits of cleaning gear thoroughly after using it include:

  • Gear cleanliness
  • Avoiding wader stench
  • Limit invasive species transmission between bodies of water
  • Preemptive gear maintenance
  • Increase the lifetime of gear
  • Keeps significant other happier
  • Decrease corrosion (particularly important when saltwater fishing)

I’ve found personally that a garden hose or a detachable shower head are two of my best friends when it comes to cleaning my waders and my boots. With both my waders and boots I focus heavily on first getting all the mud, sand, gravel off/out and then I focus on general cleanliness. Attention to detail while cleaning boots and waders will help them smell better, last longer, and let you know if you have any potential failures. On one of my last trips I found a spot of deep, stinky-methane filled mud/sand. It took a while to get the mud and sand out of my wading boots, but I am so glad I was able to get the stench out of them!

Another important set of things to take care of are our reels and our rods. Taking our reels and giving them a heavy rinsing/washdown after a trip is recommended. If you are fishing saltwater and want your gear to remain happy, it is much more than recommended. Turn on a hose or the sink faucet and run the reel and line under the running water. A quality rinse will help flush out any salt, sand, or other particles that can damage a reel over time. Once the reel is rinsed off, set it down gently on a place where the reel can dry. I recommend setting it on a dry towel In addition to rinsing down the reel, cleaning our rods is super important. It has also become a habit for me to clean my fly rod(s) after a fishing trip. My sink isn’t big enough to thoroughly, not effectively, clean my fly rods. I take the rod sections and lay them on the towel next to the drying rods. I then take a wet wipe, or a very soft damp towel, and gently wipe every section of the rod. Pay particular attention to the guides (and well all of the rod section to be honest). It frequently amazes me how dirty and grimy a set of fly rods can get after a day on the water. Taking care of our rods and reels is very important to increasing their lifetime and functionality!

Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you better maintain your gear, keep it cleaner, and have a happier significant other after a fishing trip. Go get your gear dirty, make some great memories, and then get home and clean your gear! Tight lines and wet nets, my friends!