End-of-Year Reel Maintenance


Back off your drags and add a little lubricant to clean and prepare your reels for fishing next spring.

As the year comes to a close and the ice fishing season begins, it’s time to put away the open water toys and prepare for some ice fishing adventures. But before hitting the ice, it’s important to ensure that all your equipment, especially your reels, are properly maintained and ready for the next year. In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to store and clean your reels to keep them in top condition during the winter months.

Storing Your Reels

The first step in preparing your reels for winter storage is to back off the drags. This helps prevent the washers from flattening or bending over time. By loosening the drags, you’ll extend the lifespan of your reels and ensure they perform optimally when you use them again in the future.

Next, consider how you’ll store your rods. You can either store them in an upright position or hang them in overhead storage. The choice depends on your preference and available space. Personally, I like to store my rods in an upright position or hang them in overhead storage. This helps keep them organized and prevents any damage or tangling of the lines.

Organizing Your Reels

When it comes to organizing your reels, it’s important to consider which ones you’ll be using first in the upcoming season. For example, if you plan on targeting sturgeon early in the spring, keep your sturgeon reel easily accessible. On the other hand, if you won’t be using a certain reel until later in the season, store it in overhead storage or a less accessible area.

Cleaning Your Reels

Before storing your reels for the winter, it’s a good idea to give them a thorough cleaning. While I’m not a reel cleaning expert, I’ve found a simple method that works well for me.

To clean your reels, you’ll need a lubricant and a rag. I recommend using a lubricant like Deep Creep by Sea Foam. This lubricant not only stays on your reels for a long time but also acts as a good cleaner.

Start by removing the spool from the reel. Apply a small amount of Deep Creep to the shaft of the spool. This will lubricate the spool and help remove any dirt or debris. Use a q-tip to clean out any grease or dirt that may have accumulated in the spool area.

Next, apply a little bit of Deep Creep to any other important spots on the reel, such as the bearings and springs. Be sure to apply the lubricant lightly, as a little goes a long way. Use the rag to wipe down the reel and remove any excess lubricant or dirt.

Finally, focus on the handle side of the reel. Back off the handle and apply a small amount of Deep Creep to the area. Spin the handle to allow the oil to work its way into the bearings and main body of the reel. This will help remove any gunk or debris and make the reel smoother to operate.


Taking the time to properly store and clean your reels before the winter season can greatly extend their lifespan and ensure optimal performance when you’re ready to hit the ice again. By backing off the drags, storing your rods in an organized manner, and cleaning your reels with a lubricant like Deep Creep, you can keep your equipment in top condition and be ready for a successful ice fishing season.

Remember, you don’t have to be a reel cleaning expert to maintain your reels. With a little bit of maintenance and the right tools, you can keep your reels in great shape and enjoy many seasons of ice fishing adventures.

So, as you prepare for the ice fishing season, don’t forget to give your reels some TLC. Your equipment will thank you, and you’ll be ready to make some great catches on the ice!

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