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There is no disputing that fishing can be a dirty business. Between fish smells, the sun, and the dirt … things can get pretty messy. However, just because you may be looking (and smelling) less than fresh doesn’t mean that your equipment needs to. Having a clean fishing rod is vital to your success as a fisherman. Imagine if a dirty handle or debris-filled guide caused you to lose a fish, or – worse yet – the whole rod!
Most likely a cleaning system will develop over time, but if you haven’t started one yet, here are a few tips to get you going. Many of these products you will already have in your house, but you can also create a tackle box for cleaning supplies to keep handy on your boat, or even in the back of your car for easy equipment cleaning on the go.
Although rod handles come in a variety of textures and materials, cork handles are especially difficult when it comes to keeping clean because of their porous nature. Some anglers recommend rubbing alcohol for cleaning the cork handle, as well as other parts of the rod.
Although it can be a great disinfectant/odor neutralizer, rubbing alcohol can also be very drying, and no one wants their handle falling apart while fishing. A less harsh alternative would be an all-natural citrus-scented cleaner. The natural ingredients will effectively clean, while the citrus will cut through any fish juice odor that may be lingering.
To clean, spray the handle down and let the liquid sit for a moment. An old towel will serve nicely as a cleaning instrument. Use the towel to firmly rub down the cork area, removing all residue. Repeat if desired. Be sure to steer away from things like sandpaper and steel wool, which can wear down your rod and damage it over time.
For the rest of the rod, Pledge works wonders. Simply spray down the rest of the rod and clean with your towel. For the guides, cleaning with a Q-tip and WD-40 will make sure that the residue and rust stays out. An easy way to check the soundness of your guide is to run a cotton ball, or even women’s nylons, through them. If anything snags, it’s time to replace them.
Finally, like all equipment that sees water and wear, rods need to be replaced. Use your rods well, clean them often, and retire them when it’s time.