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How to Clean Your Fly Rod

Keep your rod strong for years to come!

Learn how to clean and maintain your rods after your season has ended. Get the most out of your kit with our gear maintenance series!

by Kyle Brown • November 15, 2021

Knowledge Center


 This is part of a series on cleaning and maintaining your equipment when the offseason comes around, be sure to read out other blog posts to make the most out of your gear and to protect it for years to come. If there are any pieces of your equipment that you would like to know how to clean and maintain, please reach out to us with any questions.

  1. How to Clean and Maintain Your Fly Lines
  2. Fly Rod Maintenance
  3. How to Clean and Maintain Your Fly Reels - Upcoming
  4. Cleaning, Maintaining, and Storing Waders - Upcoming
  5. Cleaning and Lubricating Your Fly Reels - Upcoming

Cleaning the Blank

There are many ways to clean the blank on your rod so it comes out looking shiny and new. Cleaning the blank can be as easy as applying a liquid dish soap and water mixture, wiping with a soft cloth or paper towels. Continue this process until all dirt, grime, dust, and other small particulates are gone. Wipe again with water to remove any remaining soap. 

Cleaning the Ferrules 

Cleaning the ferrules is the most important of maintaining your fly rod. The ferrules represent the most delicate parts of your rod so it is especially important to pay extra attention to these parts. 

The Female Ferrule 

- Clean with a cotton swab dabbed in alcohol all the way inside of the ferrule. You can use something like isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol which won't damage the graphite or fiberglass. Let dry which should happed quickly with alcohol. 

The Male Ferrule  

- With a soft cloth or a paper towel dabbed in alcohol, isopropyl or denatured again, wipe all the way around the black until it no more debris is visible on the cloth. Let dry. 

- After your ferrules have dried, you can apply some lubricant to the male ferrule. Lubricants like parrafin wax or graffitolin wax ensure that the connections between ferrules remains strong when they are attached but not strong enough that it is difficult to detach the rod pieces from one another. 

Angler lubricating the male end of a Fly Rod Furrule with wax

Cleaning the Snake and Stripping Guides

If you see that the feet of your guides is getting loose, cracking the glue, or lifting in some places, it may be time for you to consider sending in your rod to get repaired by the manufacturer or a reputable rod repair service. 

Clean fly lines and clean rod guides go hand in hand with one another, friction goes both ways in this case. 

Remember how your line can pick up all sorts of particulates, dirt, grime, algae? Well when you're shooting out line and stripping it in a lot of that debris gets transferred to your guides. As your guides become gunked up with all of this, it will affect the speed at which your line is cast and if the debris is built up enough it can even damage lines over time. 

Keeping your guides clean will not only extend the life of your rod but will also keep your line in great shape for more season before you consider replacing it. 

Hit your guides at the same time when you are cleaning the blanks on your rod, soapy water will be more than enough for upkeep on these components since they are primarily made of metal. 

If you are especially keen on getting the most performance out of your rod, you can even apply a small amount of line dressing to your guides. 

Cleaning the Cork

The best way that we have found for cleaning the cork is hitting it with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser that is slightly damp, this will have your handle looking next-to-new in no time at all! If your cork has seen some especially hard days you may want to consider sanding it down with extremely fine sand paper. If you do decide that sanding in the way to go for your gear then be sure to hit it with some kind of sealant before getting back out on the water. 

If you encounter a split in your cork or a particularly deep groove you can apply a bit of wood filler and sand it down. 

Cleaning the Reel Seat

For a proper fit between your reel and the seat you should pay attention to the the smallest components in the reel seat.

Whether it be uplocking or downlocking, you need to make sure there is not debris in the threads or underneath the band. Small debris here will damage the threads and could eventually mean that the reel seat does not ensure a proper fit with your reel. 

Wipe down the metal components the same way that your cleaned your guides and blanks, with soapy water and then finish with clean water before wiping down. 

If your reel seat has wooden furniture, you can apply a wood polish for that ultimate shine to show off your rod. 


Rod Cleaning Supplies

Graffitolin Ferrule Wax - After making hundreds of casts a day, it is inevitable that things will come loose eventually. Graffitolin Wax from Loon is designed to keep things sticking together while also making them easy to break down when your day is done and the rod needs to go back into storage. Simply applying the wax to the male ferrule ensures a strong attachment and is intended to keep your rod strong for years to come in the weakest parts. 


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