Can Fishing Reels Get Wet? How to Protect and Maintain Your Reel for Optimal Performance

Fishing is a popular pastime that many people enjoy, whether it’s for relaxation or sport. The equipment you use is essential to your success, and one of the most important pieces of gear is the fishing reel. Can fishing reels get wet?

This question has been asked by many anglers, and the answer might surprise you. In this article, we will discuss the effects of water on fishing reels, proper maintenance, and tips for protecting your fishing reels from water damage.

In short, yes, fishing reels can get wet, but it’s important to ensure that you take proper care of them to prevent damage and maintain performance. Read on to find out more about the different types of fishing reels, how water can affect them, and how to keep them in top condition.

Types of Fishing Reels

Before diving into the main topic, it’s important to understand the different types of fishing reels available. Each type has its own unique design and functionality.

  • Spinning Reels: These are the most common and versatile fishing reels, ideal for beginners and experienced anglers alike. They can handle various line types and sizes and are typically more resistant to water than other types.
  • Baitcasting Reels: These reels are preferred by more advanced anglers, offering increased accuracy and control. However, they can be more susceptible to water damage, especially in saltwater environments.
  • Fly Reels: Designed specifically for fly fishing, these reels are lightweight and allow for precise control. They can handle getting wet, but proper care and maintenance are crucial to ensure they continue to perform well.
  • Spincast Reels: These beginner-friendly reels are simple to use and low maintenance. They are enclosed, which can help protect them from water damage.
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Can Fishing Reels Get Wet?

Fishing reels are designed to be used in and around water, so they can indeed get wet. However, prolonged exposure to water, especially saltwater, can cause damage to your fishing reel. It’s essential to follow proper maintenance procedures and protect your reel from unnecessary water exposure to maintain optimal performance.

Effects of Water on Fishing Reels

  • Saltwater vs. Freshwater: Saltwater can be more corrosive than freshwater, causing increased wear and tear on your fishing reel. If you fish in saltwater, it’s important to clean your reel thoroughly after each use.
  • Corrosion and Rust: Excessive water exposure can lead to corrosion and rust on metal components, which can negatively affect the reel’s performance.
  • Performance Issues: Water can cause the reel’s internal parts to swell or become damaged, leading to decreased performance, harder cranking, and even failure.

Proper Maintenance of Fishing Reels

  • Cleaning Process: After each use, it’s important to clean your reel thoroughly, especially if it has been exposed to saltwater. Use fresh water to rinse off any debris and salt, then dry the reel completely.
  • Lubrication and Protection: Regularly lubricate your reel’s moving parts with high-quality fishing reel grease or oil. This will help protect against corrosion and ensure smooth operation. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific lubricant to use.

Waterproof Fishing Reels

While most fishing reels are designed to handle some level of water exposure, some reels are marketed as “waterproof.” These reels often have sealed drag systems and other components to prevent water intrusion. If you frequently fish in wet conditions or saltwater, investing in a waterproof reel may be a wise choice. However, even with a waterproof reel, proper maintenance is still essential to prolong its lifespan and maintain optimal performance.

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Tips for Protecting Your Fishing Reels from Water Damage

  1. Store your reel in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent moisture buildup.
  2. Use a reel cover to protect your reel from water and debris when not in use.
  3. Avoid submerging your reel unnecessarily, especially in saltwater.
  4. Rinse and dry your reel after each use, paying special attention to the line roller, bail, and handle.
  5. Regularly inspect your reel for signs of corrosion or wear and address any issues promptly.

Choosing the Right Fishing Reel for Your Needs

When selecting a fishing reel, consider your fishing environment and the type of fishing you plan to do. If you primarily fish in freshwater, a standard reel may be sufficient. However, if you fish in saltwater or wet conditions frequently, a waterproof or corrosion-resistant reel might be a better choice. Be sure to research the specific features and maintenance requirements of each reel before making a decision.


In conclusion, fishing reels can get wet, but proper care and maintenance are crucial to prevent damage and maintain optimal performance. By following the tips and recommendations in this article, you can ensure that your fishing reel remains in top condition, even when exposed to water.

How to Clean Your Fishing Gear Correctly


  1. How often should I clean and lubricate my fishing reel? It’s recommended to clean your reel after each use, especially if it has been exposed to saltwater. Lubricate the moving parts every few months or as needed, depending on the frequency of use.
  2. Can I use WD-40 on my fishing reel? While WD-40 can help displace water and prevent rust, it is not a suitable long-term lubricant for fishing reels. Instead, use a high-quality fishing reel grease or oil specifically designed for this purpose.
  3. What should I do if my fishing reel accidentally falls into the water? Retrieve your reel as soon as possible, rinse it thoroughly with fresh water, and dry it completely. Inspect the reel for any damage and lubricate the moving parts as needed.
  4. Are there any fishing reels that are completely waterproof? Some fishing reels are marketed as waterproof, featuring sealed drag systems and other components to prevent water intrusion. However, even with these reels, proper maintenance is still essential to prolong their lifespan and maintain optimal performance.
  5. Do all types of fishing reels need the same maintenance? While the general maintenance principles apply to all fishing reels, specific requirements may vary depending on the type of reel and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Always consult the owner’s manual or manufacturer guidelines for specific maintenance instructions.

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