Best bets to clean rod grips

Different methods used for EVA foam, cork

Keeping your rods clean might seem like a fairly simple chore: Just hose them down at the end of every fishing trip and they’re ready for the next time, right?

Well, maybe the rod blanks could use a good spraying, and the reels a good cleaning and oiling, but water alone isn’t going to clean those rod grips — cork or otherwise.

Filthy grips, darkened by dirt and by the oils from our fingers and palms, are a different animal altogether. And depending on what kind of grips your rods carry, it’s a different task.

“If you’re talking about EVA (foam) grips, you need some kind of brush — a toothbrush or nail brush,” said Bill Ballou of Custom Fish Grips in Knoxville, Tenn. “You need to use something like Dawn soap and scrub your grips with the brush, foam it up good, then hose it off.

EVA foam will withstand a good, soapy scrubbing.
EVA foam will withstand a good, soapy scrubbing.

“If your grips have got a lot of white in them, you’ll get a lot of dirt or stains on them, and you may have to scrub them several times, but you just keep scrubbing until you’re happy with them.”

Cork grips

When it comes to rods with cork grips, keep the water away, according to 7even Seas custom rod-builder Nuno Paulino, who opts for the finest sandpaper he can find and scrubs the grips clean.

“You just need to take off the thin, surface film that’s on the cork grips,” Paulino said. “I clean them with 1,000-grit sandpaper, even 2,000-grit. Just stand it off until it’s clean.”

Very fine sandpaper removes the grime from cork grips.
Very fine sandpaper removes the grime from cork grips.

Paulino cautions anglers not to use any product that contains oil when cleaning rods, and don’t get oil-based products you might use to clean reels on your rod blanks.

“People like to use stuff like WD40 to clean their rods, but it’s hard on the rod’s top coat and the epoxy,” he said. “Always use a silicone spray. It will do the job, and protect the rods and the guides.”

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