When cleaning your fly rod, be sure to use a light brush or dish scrubber. Start by scrubbing the grip and guides thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Also, make sure also to inspect the blank and guides for any wear and tear. Look for grooves, nicks, or scratches in the inserts of the guides, as these can fray or cut your tippets. When it comes time to store your fly rod, remember to lay it horizontally rather than lean it against something. This will keep the blanks from bowing.

If you’re familiar with the process (not being familiar will likely ruin your reel), your fly reel should be taken apart and scrubbed to get the sand and dirt out of the gears. After you’ve cleaned the reel, make sure to tighten all the internal gears, as a season’s use will loosen them. Be careful, though, because gears are hard to replace if you lose them. After your reel is cleaned and checked, make sure that you back down the drag before you store it. Finally, it’s a good idea to store your reels in a soft case so they don’t get damaged.

It’s a good idea to unspool and clean your fly line by running it through a wet rag. When the season comes around again, unspool your line again and apply a little lubricant to get it casting smoothly again.

Next up are your waders, which need to be rinsed and dried. Make sure that you turn them inside out so that both sides can air out completely. This is also a great opportunity to check them over and fix any nicks or tears that you might see. When it comes time to store your waders, don’t hang them under tension from the suspenders. Instead, lay them down, unfolded, on a hard surface, and make sure there are no stress spots, folds or bends, as these could damage them.

Thoroughly washing your fly rod, reel, and waders will keep them performing for years. If you fail to get all the sand, silt, and other debris off your equipment right after a day on the river, trying to remove it once it’s fully dried might cause harm to your gear. If you’re not sure how to do any cleaning yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep the tips outlined above in mind when it’s time to clean and store your fly gear for the winter.