I've busted up a few reels just because I didn't take care of them and I'm tired of paying for new ones. So, who has some advice on the best way to care for my reels?
Guide to Fishing Reels
Always, always, always rinse your fishing equipment off after use with fresh water.
Rinse with fresh water after every use, and I mean really hose it down and saturate. Many newer reels are sealed and can just be toweled dry. If not sealed, shake them vigorously to get as much water out and then towel dry. Taking apart and oiling is recommended 1-2 times a year but not necessary as many newer reels are packed with grease then sealed meaning they will last for years with minimum maintenance.
I second that what Sam says. I am a PENN fan, and only use their spinfisher models. I have the older version Spinfisher's... the ssg's and all I do on these reels is wash them with fresh water after each use, and once a year pull the side cover off and add a small amount of new grease.
One of the worst things you can do to a reel is hit it with a hard stream of water, a gentle mist works better and does not force water into any working parts. I wade fish about 5 days a week and carry a garden sprayer so I rinse down everything shorty after leaving the water. I will strip my flyline down to the backing about every two week and clean it with a line cleaner then rinse the backing and let it dry before it away
Dennis brings up a very important point. Do not clean your reels with high pressure. Also avoid soap, the soap will get rid of your grease as well as oil very quickly. Simple reel cleaning every 6 months to a year will help the longevity of your reels. There are a lot of good youtube videos about it. It'll take some time the first time but once you know how to clean the reels, it speeds up.
This brings back memories of reel service repair back in the good ol tackle shop.
A couple tips:
No high pressure washing, especially if you don't have sealed bearing systems. That usually forces the salt water into areas it wouldn't normally.
When you go in to get your reel serviced, consider asking them to grease the retaining screws that hold the reels side frames on. Also ask them to use drag grease to impregnate the drag washers, much harder for water to intrude once they've been greased.
When you wash your reels off, make sure to have your drags engaged. They don't have to be buttoned down, but engage them, so its hard for water to intrude. Once you are done washing off your gear, back off the drag fully to save your washers. You might have carbontex drags, and they will compress and stay compressed if the drags aren't backed off.
Remove braid after the season or mid season. Braid has a tendency to hide salwater deep within the strands. Excellent place for corrosion to eat up in the inside of your spool.
Penn reel grease is your friend! Yes the blue stuff. Its at your local Westmarine. Use it or a similar light grease to create a barrier between two dissimilar metals. Normally you'll find dissimilar screws tapped into aluminum, or stainless bearings sitting in aluminum slots. Do not use lithium grease.