As a kayak angler, I put my gear through some tough days on/in the water. So, this week I took a couple of hours to clean my rods and reels. I do this about twice a year, which probably isn't often enough. It is very easy and painless and makes a world of difference. All you need is a small rag or sponge, q-tips, isopropyl alcohol, reel oil, an old toothrbush, and possibly a screw driver. Remember that on baitcasters, you shouldn't have to mess with the side of your reel that has the handle, drag star, etc. unless it has been submerged in saltwater for a significant period of time or you want to do an upgrade of some sort (bearings, drag, etc). I was able to knock out Shimano, Abu Garcia, Daiwa, and Okuma reels very quickly and easily. I did need a screwdriver for the Daiwas (I wrap the tip in a towel when using), but the rest can be taken apart without tools of any kind.
First, I take my reels apart and wipe them down, very thoroughly, wish isoproyl alcohol. I use 70% and dab it on a rag and toothbrush. I find it does a much better job than soap and water. Then I take the time to oil the important parts of the reel using a q-tip. This video actually breaks it down quite well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqRDaFNwAd4. And a fishing friend of mine blogged his gear cleaning here (scroll down a bit): http://dadtb-fishingwithdad.blogspot.com/. I found that all of my reels, even the ones with less use, benefited from the cleaning.
For the rods, I take the toothbrush and dip it in a 50/50 isopropyl-water mixture. I use the toothbrush to thoroughly clean the guides. I found that this was especially important with my microguide rods as they get dirty much quicker. Dirty guides can wear down your line quickly - especially with techniques such as cranking or spinnerbaiting. I use the same mixture on the rag to wipe down my blanks.
I remeber how much of a pain it sounded like to take the time and effort to clean all of my gear, but trust me, it is so easy and will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Also, today is the start of the Bassmaster Classic - the superbowl of bass fishing. Many of you who read my blogs regularly know how amped up I get before tournaments, so I can't imagine what goes through an angler's mind the night before the Classic. Today my work productivity will dip as I watch things unravel online on the BASS Live Blog and BassTrakk sites. Until next time, tight lines!