How to Clean a Martin Automatic Fly Reel

by Chris Hennessey

Like all other types of fishing gear, a Martin automatic fly reel requires periodic cleaning to protect it from water, salt and dirt it may pick up while in use on the water. With a few simple tools and supplies, cleaning a fly reel takes just a few minutes. By regularly maintaining your Martin automatic fly reel, you can prolong its life and ensure its reliability on the stream for many years to come.

Remove the line from the reel by stripping it off until the knot at the spool is reached. Cut the knot to free line.

Remove the flat-head screw in the center of the right side of the reel and the flat-head screw on the left side of the reel.

Pull the two halves of the reel body in opposite directions to separate them and reveal the spool. Pull the spool straight out of the left half of the reel body.

Gently scrub all visible surfaces of the spool and both halves of the reel body with the brush and soapy water. Use cotton swabs to scrub any hard-to-reach areas.

Rinse each of the three components with clean, warm water and dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Lightly grease all gears and cogs. Apply a light coat of oil to the coil spring and all other surfaces.

Return the spool to the left half of the reel body. Press the two halves of the reel back together and reinstall both flat-head screws.

Items you will need

  • Small, soft brush
  • Hot, soapy water
  • Cloth
  • Cotton swabs
  • Lithium grease
  • Oil


  • Do not soak any reel for long periods of time. Prolonged exposure to water can damage internal components.

About the Author

Chris Hennessey has been a journalist since 1990. A resident of State College, Penn., Hennessey also teaches news writing at Penn State. His writing has been published in many newspapers, including the "Pittsburgh Post Gazette" and the "Harrisburg Patriot News." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Temple University.