As the fishing season winds down in the fall and gear is being stored away for the winter, it is the perfect time to perform annual maintenance on your spinning reels.

Good spinning reels are a significant investment, and maintenance is key in protecting that investment. Any angler can perform proper reel maintenance by just following a few important steps.

Before you get started, the first step in the maintenance process is collecting all the items you will need to do the job right. You will need both a phillips and flathead screwdriver, reel oil and grease, a toothbrush, isopropyl rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs and paper towels.

Before disassembling your reel, take the opportunity to remove that old fishing line you have been using all season. Throw that line away and re-spool the reel in the spring, with fresh line.

When working on a spinning reel, the first step is to remove the spool. Use a paper towel to clean the spool shaft. Clean the spool seat with the rubbing alcohol and cotton swab.

The next step is to take a clean, dry cotton swab and run it along the roller guide to check for rough patches that could nick line. The cotton swab will catch on any burrs or nicks. If you find any rough places, use  a fine piece of sandpaper to file them smooth. Repeat the process, until no rough patches are detected.

Next, apply a drop of reel oil to the spool shaft, the roller guide and the connection between the bail spring and spool housing. Just a drop will do it. Two much oil will create a mess and could attract unwanted dirt to other areas of the reel.

Following the spool maintenance, the next step is to remove the handle. If your reel does not have a maintenance port, remove the screws that hold the side plate in place. Remove the main gear and soak it in the rubbing alcohol. After five or 10 minutes, scrub the gear with the toothbrush to remove the old grease. Allow the gear to air dry; then place it back into the reel.  Lightly grease each tooth on the gear. Apply oil to the spiral worm gear and bearings; then re-secure the plate on the reel. Oil the moving connections on the handle and reconnect it to the reel.

Once this step is complete, tighten the nut at the base of the spool shaft; then put the spool back in place. Wipe down the outside of your reel and your maintenance project is complete.

Before putting your reel away for the winter, back off the drag. Wrap the reel in a clean cloth and store it in a dry place that remains room temperature all winter. Your spinning reel is now ready for spring.