foam handleWe’ve all had the feeling: the joy and excitement of picking up a brand new rod. The shiny blank, the perfectly aligned guides, and the crisp, smooth handle—all appealing components of your new toy. Keeping your rod looking new will be difficult, especially if—like a good angler—you’re using it a lot. We took a look at keeping cork rod handles in shape last week. Today, we’ll look at some ways you can take care of your foam rod grips.

Anglers who use a lot of live bait know that the stuff can get messy and smelly. This can transfer to your hands and your rod grip and build up in the pores of the foam over time. Furthermore, steady use over time can cause wear and tear. Usually, a quick rinse with water, followed by a cloth rubdown after an outing can do the job. Sometimes, though, you need a little more.

There are a few different products you can use to clean up your reel a bit. Acetone, for example, can do a good job. Don’t soak your rod grip in the stuff, but a little here and there can work wonders.

Other products that work well are lacquer thinner and rubbing alcohol, applied with an old towel. Apply a generous amount of thinner to the cloth, but be careful not to soak the grip in it. Lacquer finish targets a variety of substances, and using too much may cause the adhesives that bind your grip to the rod itself to deteriorate, so use it sparingly. To clean the handle, wrap the damp towel around the grip area and work it back and forth with a good amount of pressure. You'll probably see some foam transfer to the cloth, but don’t worry. After a few minutes, this technique will clean the grip area pretty well and once it dries it will look like new. Sanding and resurfacing rod grips, paired with a rubbing alcohol wipe-down works well, too.

Sometimes, though, when the foam breaks down and starts to crumble or tear, there isn’t anything more you can do, aside from applying a new rod grip or purchasing a new rod altogether. This will happen eventually. Yes, there is a difference in the quality of foam grips on the market today, but ultimately, time and the elements will break all of them down. Keep the tips outlined above in mind when cleaning your foam rod handles, and you’ll help them last a little longer.