Here at Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, we preach to all our valued clients how vital it is to wash all your gear after a trip. This will prolong the life of your expensive fly tackle. You must make sure your gear is ready for your next fly fishing vacation. This does not take long and I have found doing all this also reveals breakage and other issues with my tackle! I was just buffing one of my rods two days ago after a recent hosted trip to Los Roques, where I set-up our 22 guests with demo gear. As I got to the tip of one of the rods while cleaning it, I noticed there was a minor abrasion, flexed the tip, and it easily snapped off. It is much better to figure this out right after a trip, so that you have plenty of time to remedy the problem. There is nothing worse then pulling out your rod from it's case on the first day of a new trip, and the rod tip is cracked. Also, inspect all your lines for cracks, and I will often re-tie all my knots for my butt sections.
Use hot water and a mild soap to clean all your gear, then oil the reel and buff your rods. Also wash your wading boots, luggage, rain jacket, sunglasses, pliers, nippers, back packs and hip packs, and just about anything else that came into contact with the saltwater! I like to scrub the "nooks and crannies" of my rods and reels with a toothbrush, and then treat all my lines with fly line dressing. To get the most out of your flies wash any that came into contact with the salt. Make sure there is no rust on your hooks! If there is rust then toss that fly.
I have found that filling up a bath tub with hot water is a great way to do this, because you may submerge the rods, reels, pliers, etc. Let the reels soak in the hot water to dissolve the salt. I then drain the water and rinse again from the tap. You may choose to pull the fly line off and clean it at this point. Then I will refill the tub and soak my packs, boots and rain jacket. The salt can ruin the zippers in just one trip. Air dry everything before storing. Be sure the drag on your reel is all the way off, so not to compress the drag. Storing your reel with the drag setting turned "on" or on a substancial drag setting can ruin your reel. Lower the drag setting to the lowest possible when not in use to preserve your drag!
If that isn't enough to make you wash your gear, there is also another very important issue: stopping the spread of invasive specie. Regardless of the destination, it’s very important we all be noble stewards of the resource and make certain to keep our gear clean.
If you do all this after each trip you will be ready for any last minute trip . Always be ready to jump on a plane or in your car and go fishing! I tend to repack my gear after cleaning it all, and use the same but separate luggage for salt and fresh water trips, so that I'm pretty much already packed. Toss in some fresh clothes and your toiletries and you are ready to head out for your next fly fishing vacation!