How to Clean a Fishing Rod? [Smart Cleaning Guide]

How to Clean a Fishing Rod

Every angler cares about fishing equipment a lot. Many of us spend hours on choosing and then frequently using our rods.

Some of them are expensive, some are affordable, but no matter the price and brand, all of them have something in common, and that is cleaning.

So, how to clean a fishing rod? The goal of cleaning is to remove dirt, salt, and impurities that could cause damage and corrosion. To remove those, you need fresh water and soft cloth. For more thorough cleaning, you need specialized rod cleaning products, and something to scrape off any corrosion from metal parts.

Cleaning your rod after saltwater use is especially important, and it would be wise to remove a reel to have access to all rod parts.

Also, when cleaning it, don’t forget the handle. That can be the dirtiest part but somehow many anglers ignore it.

Unlike reels, rods are easy to clean, and don’t require any special tools. To find out more about the process, read the following chapters.



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What Tools and Products Do You Need to Clean a Fishing Rod?

For regular cleaning, you will need a soft cloth, a gentle detergent that is rod safe, and fresh water.

For removing corrosion, you will need some additional things, but that will be mentioned a bit later on.

Another useful thing is a gentle bristle, that can help you remove any built up of impurities. Dirt can cause abrasion damage, while salt and various minerals can cause corrosion.

Many anglers will recommend using any kind of mild soap instead of professional cleaning liquids, however, there is a downside to this. Regular soap can dissolve oils and grease, so of it ends up on your reel by accident, it can remove the necessary lubricants.

You do not need any special tools, and the only thing you need to “disassemble” is actually removing the reel from your rod, if you used it in saltwater. You don’t have to do this after every fishing trip in freshwater, but after saltwater it is highly recommended.

Using ferrule vax is also recommended, to make the connecting process easier.

How to Clean a Fishing Rod? [Step-by-Step]

Cleaning the fishing rod is a straightforward process.

Here I will list all the steps for thorough cleaning. There are some additional steps for cleaning after saltwater, but those will be mentioned later on.

STEP 1: Disassemble rod

If the rod is designed in pieces, disassemble them to have access to ferrules. This is very important as impurities can damage the connections.

STEP 2: Wash off any dirt

Use freshwater to wash off any dirt or visible impurities. If there are some stuck weeds or similar objects, remove them. When doing this, make sure that the pressure of water is low, and never use pressure washers or similar devices.

STEP 3: Use a soft cloth to wash off any impurities

Use a soft cloth and the rod cleaning products to wash off any impurities that are hard to come off. Don’t forget the inside part of the guides, as that is the part that collects a lot of dirt and minerals that can cause corrosion.

Clean the handle too (I will tell you more details about this in the following chapters).

Make sure that you clean the ferrules. If the rod is telescopic, clean the connection on an extended rod to remove all dirt, otherwise, it could end up inside and damage the connections.

STEP 4: Rinse off

Rinse off thoroughly and make sure there is no soap leftovers. Again, avoid various washers and do it gently.

STEP 5: Remove any excess water

Use soft and dry cloth to remove any excess water. Pay special attention the line guides. Also, don’t use blow dryers or similar devices to dry the rod.

Thoroughly wipe down the ferrules and wax them if necessary. Before you assemble it again, leave it a bit to make sure that all the water evaporated.

Additional step: Inspect the rod for damage

This is not actually cleaning, but it is equally important. Inspect the rod for damage, and if there is any, make sure to fix it before it becomes unfixable.

How to Clean a Fishing Rod - Cork

How to Clean a Cork Handle on a Fishing Rod?

Cork handles are great, but they can get quite dirty. Salt, minerals, dirt, and your hands full of fish guts can make a handle look horrible. Also, cleaning it is an important step in damage prevention.

So, how to clean a cork handle on a fishing rod?

A soft bristle, lukewarm water and a detergent are all you need. Make sure that the bristle is very gentle in order not to damage the cork. If you don’t have it, use a cloth instead.

Some people will use stain removers, alcohol, and similar products; however, I would not recommend that as it can damage the coating of the rod blank if it comes in contact with it. Use rod safe products only.

Simply scrub the handle and rinse it. Repeat the process if necessary. This part may need a bit more time to dry even if you wipe it with a dry cloth, so keep that in mind before storing the rod.

How to Clean a Foam Handle on a Fishing Rod?

Knowing how to clean fishing rod cork is important, but what if your rod has a different kind of handle? How to clean a foam handle on a fishing rod is a question frequently asked among beginners, so here is the answer.

Foam can absorb impurities, and that is why you will definitely need a very soft bristle, or even a soft toothbrush. A simple cloth won’t be able to remove all the dirt completely, as it can’t penetrate into its pores.

Use a rod safe soap, or of you really don’t have any, use some mild soap you have at home, diluted with water. Brush it as long as you need to remove all the dirt.

When you are rinsing it, take your time. Make sure you rinse it well so that nothing is absorbed by the foam.

As you can see, the process is quite similar as the one for cork handles.

Don’t apply soap or any kind of cleaners directly onto the handle, and this goes for both cork and foam ones.

How to Clean a Fishing Rod - Foam

How to Clean Fishing Rod Guides? [+ Corrosion Cleaning]

I told you in the previous chapters that you have to clean the guides well, especially their inner part. But, how to clean fishing rod guides when they are very dirty, or have some corrosion present?

First of all, you have to scrub them with a very soft bristle or a cloth from inside. A thin cloth can come in handy, to pull it through the guides. Use safe cleaning liquids and rinse thoroughly. For small and inaccessible areas, you can use Q-tips that are soaked in a cleaner.

To remove corrosion, you can either use professional cleaners safe for fishing equipment that are also used on reels, but make sure that you buy ones that have the ability to remove corrosion, as not all of them can do it. Read the instructions to see what the liquid is for.

If you don’t have one, a bit of vinegar can also help. It is quite safe for other rod parts and it is acidic, so it will remove corrosion. However, don’t use some other strong acids or you will destroy the rod.

Apply some vinegar or a rod cleaner onto the bristle or a cloth and scrub until its clean. If you can remove it completely, think about getting your rod professionally cleaned.

Some people will say that they use wires or a fine sandpaper, but that can cause some serious damage if you don’t know what you are doing.

How to Clean a Fishing Rod - Guides

How to Clean a Fishing Rod After Saltwater Use?

I already described the process in the first chapter, but here are some additional tips. It is important to clean the rod as soon as you get home.

If you are on a multi-day camping trip, use bottled water and make sure you always have extra water stored for this purpose. Removing salt as fast as possible is important, and don’t wait until its convenient.

Also, don’t be lazy to remove the reel and clean everything meticulously. Remove the reel and clean the reel seat. Make sure to dry it well before you assemble it again. Leave it to air dry a bit after you wiped it because attaching a reel onto a damp seat can cause corrosion to form under it.

Another important thing not strictly related to rod cleaning, but it has an influence on it, is cleaning the fishing line. If you don’t clean your reel and a fishing line, and you pull the line through the guides, you will basically apply salt and minerals onto the clean guides.

How to Clean an Old Fishing Rod?

Even if the rod is old, that doesn’t mean that it is not good for fishing, at least, if it was properly stored. But time can cause some damage, and you have to take care of that rod before you go out and fish.

I told you how to clean a fishing rod, and you can follow all those tips to clean an old rod. You may need to do it more than once. Also, make sure to use ferule wax, as old joints are prone to damage.

For old rods, I would recommend avoiding regular soaps and vinegar. You may notice a greenish or bluish film on the guides or a seat, or more corrosion than you expected. These should be treated with professional liquids.

Rod is a rod, no matter how old it is, just make sure that you are treating a very old rod gently and inspect it well to identify any damage and fix it before you use it.


Cleaning your fishing rod is not complicated, and it does not require a lot of time. Although simple, this process will ensure the longevity of your rod, and save you money in the long run.

When cleaning it, use products that are safe, and avoid harsh chemicals. Clean all the parts thoroughly, including guides, reel seat, and the handle.

Try not to skip it, especially if you used it in saltwater. If you are in doubt about something, check the manufacturer`s instruction and recommendations.

Now you know how to clean a fishing rod. And don’t forget to clean the reel too!

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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