How To Clean A Fly Rod

by Mary

rods and reels

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fly-rod-reel-by-pimpphisher.jpg After you’ve been using your fly fishing rod for awhile, you’ll need to learn how to clean it properly.

It’s a fairly simple job to clean a fly rod, so don’t procrastinate.

You’ll probably want to clean your fly fishing rod at the same time that you clean your fly line and clean your fly reel.

Fly fishing rods are fairly expensive, so you’ll want to keep yours in top-notch shape. Here’s how to do it…

#1 Clean The Cork Grip

Pay close attention to the cork grip, because over time it will become extremely dirty if it’s not cleaned.

Over time, the cork grip will become embedded with bacteria and grime from things like:

  • sunscreen
  • the slimy protective coating from fish
  • dirt from the water
  • the natural oil of your hands

There are several ways to clean the cork grip of your fly rod. You could use an old toothbrush and a bit of toothpaste or some anti-bacterial dish detergent. Household bleach diluted in water also works well.

My preference is to use an old toothbrush and a bit of Mr. Clean with bleach.


My Method Of Cleaning The Cork Grip

Items you will need:

  • Mr. Clean with bleach
  • An old toothbrush
  • Warm water for rinsing
  • An old hand towel for drying

How to do it:

  • Dampen the cork grip of your fly rod
  • Place Mr. Clean with bleach on the toothbrush
  • Scrub the cork grip thoroughly
  • Rinse well to remove all of the cleaner
  • Allow the cork grip to dry completely
  • Return the cork grip to the case


#2 Clean The Hardware, Reel Seat And Rod Blank

The rod blank is easily cleaned with any brand of furniture polish. Clean each section of the rod separately by spraying it with furniture polish. Simply spray the entire surface by rotating the section of the rod, then use a piece of soft flannel cloth to wipe it completely dry. Then, use a corner of the flannel cloth to clean the guides.

Use this same method to clean the metal or wooden seat spacers — spraying the furniture polish on the flannel and rubbing them gently.


#3 Clean The Ferrules

Lubricate the ferrules on your fly fishing rod. (You should actually do as part of your routine maintenance, in order to prevent sticking and allow the sections to be put together and taken apart without a lot of hassle.)

Rubbing alcohol is good for cleaning the female part of the ferrule on graphite and glass rods. Just dip a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol and clean. To clean the male part of ferrules on graphite and glass rods, use alcohol on a soft piece of flannel.

If your fly fishing rod has metal ferrules, clean with a damp flannel cloth or cotton swab. It’s a good idea to lubricate metal ferrules with a small amount of sewing machine oil frequently.


Routine Fly Rod Care

Marshall Estes sums up how to perform regular maintenance on your fly rod:

After each use, wipe down the rod blank and guides with a clean dry cloth. Never store your fly rod wet. It can cause mildew on the cork handle or eventually may rust the guides.

Once a month, take a clean soft cloth such as an old t-shirt and wipe down the blank including the guides to remove dirt and debris. A little furniture wax sprayed on the cloth and wiped on the blank will shine it and lubricate the guides.

Next run a cotton ball or small piece of nylon stocking through each guide. Any burrs or wear will snag the cotton or stocking. Using special wet dry automotive 600 or 1000 grit sandpaper lightly sand off any burrs to reduce damage to the fly line.