How to Clean & Repair Penn Reels

by Samantha Volz
Penn brand fishing reels have helped fishermen break records.

Penn brand fishing reels have helped fishermen break records.

The Penn Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Company first opened in 1932 in Philadelphia. According to the company's website, more than 800 International Game Fish Association records were set using Penn reels by 1997. There are thousands of Penn reels in service around the world. To keep record-setting reels in top shape, owners must clean them properly; salt water and other contaminants can corrode the reels and render them useless.

Unscrew the straps that hold the reel to the rod. Slide the reel from the rod and set the rod safely aside.

Rinse the reel with warm water to remove surface dirt, salt water and other contaminants.

Mix warm water and dishwashing soap in a bucket or plastic container until it forms suds. Insert the reel and allow it to soak for 10 minutes, and then rinse again with warm water to remove remaining contaminants. Allow the reel to dry completely before continuing.

Disassemble the reel as much as possible by removing all screws. Wipe each part clean with cotton swabs or soft cloths. Carefully set aside each piece so that you can keep track.

Grease each moveable part of the reel with reel grease to repair any sticking or reeling problems. Apply one drop of grease to each moveable part and gear of the reel. The grease will lubricate the moving parts for more effective reeling.

Reassemble the reel and reattach it to your rod.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver
  • Water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Bucket
  • Cotton swabs
  • Reel grease


  • In general, Penn reel repairs any larger than regular greasing are done by professional repair shops. Consult a local repair shop, or contact Penn Reels:
  • Factory Repair Service
  • Penn Fishing Tackles
  • 3028 W. Hunting Park Ave.
  • Philadelphia, PA 19132
  • 800-892-5444
  • Find schematics for Penn reels on Penn's website if you have trouble disassembling or reassembling your reel.
  • Rinse your reels with clean water after every use to remove any contaminants. The Penn Reels company also produces a number of professional products that you can use to clean your reels.

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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