A Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Fishing Rods

how to clean fishing rod

Whether you’re a first-timer or a professional fisher – using a lightweight, smooth, & durable fishing rod is very important.

Without a good fishing rod and reel combo, your fishing experience won’t be fun or safe.

That’s why professional fishers and anglers spend hours choosing the best rods. You should do the same.

But, merely buying the best fishing rod and reel combo isn’t enough.

Premium-grade fishing rods are rather expensive. But, they earn their money back by lasting for several decades.

That’s right – many experienced fishers and anglers use the same fishing equipment for multiple decades.

Their secret? Years of cleaning and maintenance.

How to Maintain Fishing Rods

maintaining the rod

The Importance of Cleaning Your Fishing Rods

Approximately 200+ million people across the world fish for fun. In the US, one out of every six citizens used fishing rods in 2021.

Most of them head to freshwaters – the country’s rivers, streams, and lakes with their fishing rods and reels. The economies of several small towns like Montana and Maupin are supported by these fishers.

Every year, people spend billions on fishing rods. Only a few of these fishing rods last more than 30 to 50 years.

How? Routine cleaning. Cleaning fish rods isn’t a complex science.

The goal is simple – remove all impurities, salt, & dirt that can corrode or otherwise damage the rods. The benefits are countless.

Here’s what happens when you properly clean, store, and care for your fishing rods routinely –

  • You’ll always get peak performances in terms of accuracy, action, and distance.
  • Your fishing rods, reels, and gear will last for several years and not become rusted.
  • Clean and flexible fishing rods help lures perform better so expect more consistent yields.

Fishing rods are relatively easy to clean (unlike fishing reels). They usually don’t require any special cleaning tools.

But, you’ll need direct access to all parts of your fishing rods – from the body to the handle.

First, let’s explore the basic cleaning tools you’ll need to kickstart your fishing rod cleaning process.

What Tools & Cleaning Products Will You Need?

Unless your fishing rods are severely corroded, you’ll only need basic, household cleaning items.

To clean badly corroded fishing rods, professionals use specialized rod cleaning products, that scrape off the rust from the rods’ metal parts.

Here are the other basic cleaning tools you’ll need to clean your rods after saltwater use –

  • A soft cloth for daily cleaning.
  • Gentle detergents for thorough, routine cleaning (they shouldn’t contain corrosive chemicals).
  • A gentle bristle to remove built-up dirt, salt, minerals, and other corrosive impurities from the rods’ surfaces.
  • Wax, polishes, and other lubricants (make sure they’re rod-safe).

Make sure the cleaning agents you use don’t touch your fishing reels by accident. Cleaning liquids dissolve oils and grease.

They can remove the lubricants on your fishing reels.

How to Clean Fishing Rods?

You must clean your fishing rods after every fishing trip in saltwater.

Even if you only use the rods in freshwater, monthly cleaning is highly recommended.

Here’s how professional fishers and anglers clean their fishing rods –

  • Disassemble the Rods: If your fishing rod is made up of different pieces, disassemble them. Now, you have direct access to the joints or ferrules connecting the different components of your rod. Hidden impurities can ruin the connections between these pieces and ruin your rod’s flexibility.
  • Basic Washing: Inspect the rod’s components for damage. Use clean tap water to wash off all visible dirt on the surfaces of the rod. Use pressure washers to get rid of weeds, germs, and other similar impurities stuck to your rod’s components. The water pressure should be mild enough to not damage the rod.
  • Cloth and Cleaning Products: Mix your rod cleaning products with fresh, clean water. Dab a soft cloth in this mixture and scrub off all impurities on the rod that didn’t wash off the first time. Don’t forget the ferrules and the inside regions of the guides. These regions of your rod collect the most amount of dirt, salt, and minerals so they’re highly prone to corrosion.
  • Rinse-Off and Dry: Rinse off the fishing rod. Make sure there’s no leftover cleaning liquid on your rod’s components. Use a dry cloth (don’t use blow dryers) to get rid of any excess water on the rod.

Wipe down your rod’s components.

Make sure there are no water stains and that all the water on the rod’s surfaces has evaporated. Assemble it again and wax it if you feel necessary.

Cleaning the Fishing Rod’s Handle

This part of your fishing rod deserves special attention.

Most fishing rod handles are either made of foam or cork. Both these materials can get quite dirty.

They both absorb tones of salts, minerals, and dirt.

Cleaning your foam or cork fish rod handles routinely is the only way to prevent them from becoming unusable.

  • You’ll need a gentle bristle, chemical-free detergents, and fresh, lukewarm water.
  • Scrub the handle softly with the bristle. Rinse it with clean water multiple times.
  • Create a mixture of water and liquid detergent. Dab the bristle in this mixture.
  • Brush the handle and remove all the hard stains and remaining dirt on the handle.

Never apply cleaning products directly onto cork or foam handles as both these materials are quite sensitive.

Saltwater Cleaning: Special Precautions

Clean your fishing rods every time you use them in salt water is extremely important.

Salt corrodes all types of materials very quickly.

Before salt, minerals, and other atmospheric impurities start damaging your fishing rod, clean it. Do it as you reach home from your fishing trip.


Cleaning a fishing rod is a simple enough task for you to do it routinely. There are several years left in your precious rods.

Make your precious fishing rod last longer than usual by following these simple cleaning instructions and recommendations.