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Gone Fishin?: Ultrasonic Cleaners and Fishing Equipment

Every year, millions of Americans enjoy casting their lines into their local lakes, rivers and bays to hopefully catch a few fish. Some enjoy a relaxing afternoon on a calm lake chasing bass or catfish, while others enjoy the challenge of deep-sea marlin fishing. Both the recreational fisherman and the professional angler have learned that an ultrasonic cleaner can keep their reels, hooks and other equipment clean after every use, insuring that they can bring home a big catch.

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How Ultrasonic Cleaners Work

The ultrasonic cleaner produces high-frequency sound waves, well beyond the range of human hearing. The sound waves produce vibrations that pass through the water in the cleaner’s tub and produce billions of tiny bubbles. The bubbles, a combination of air, water and detergent, impact onto the surface of the item being cleaned. The bubbles implode (a process called “cavitation”) and dislodge microscopic particles of dirt, salt and other contaminants into the water.

What to Look For in an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Several low-cost models of ultrasonic cleaning machines are available at sporting goods stores, hobby stores and scientific supply shops, but may not have the power to remove contaminants from the more intricate mechanisms in high-end fishing reels. Larger models, built for bigger equipment and heavier cleaning tasks, can cost over $1,000. The key is to find the correct balance between the budgetary limitations and the cleaning jobs the machine will be required to handle. are also useful in the cleaning of delicate materials, such as surgical instruments or laboratory tools. Since they do not rely on any abrasive surfaces to scrape off the grime, ultrasonic cleaners are highly prized for their ability to wash instruments without inducing any friction or wear. Environments that require a thorough cleaning of sensitive equipment rely on ultrasonic cleaners to prevent damage that may come with other cleaning techniques.

Precautions to Take with an Ultrasonic Cleaner

For cleaning delicate materials, such as glass, or highly sensitive mechanisms, it is important to select a cleaner with suitable ultrasonic frequency and power. Some anglers seal their smaller components in plastic containers before placing them in the ultrasonic tank. This method prevents breakage by reducing the ultrasonic power reaching the parts and prevents scratching of polished surfaces. Since the ultrasonic cleaner is made for fast cleaning chores, most manufacturers recommend keeping the cleaner running for no more than fifteen minutes on any single task. If the cleaning job is taking much longer than fifteen minutes it’s possible that the cleaning parameters such as temperature and chemical cleaning solution have not been optimized.

How to Choose a Chemical Cleaning Solution

Most contaminants such as dirt, salt, and grease can be easily removed with a wide choice of aqueous alkaline cleaning solutions. A universal cleaning solution such as Elma tec clean A4 will safely clean all type of metals and glass, as well as most types of plastics. Note that removing rust and corrosion may require an acidic cleaning solution such as Elma tec clean S1. Consult with ultrasonic cleaning experts to select the best chemical cleaners. Cleaners are generally available as concentrates that must be diluted with water before use.

Ultrasonic Cleaners and Equipment Maintenance

Fishing equipment has evolved well beyond the simple one-piece rod, cylindrical reel and nylon line. Modern fishing reels are precision instruments requiring special care and maintenance. Conventional fishing reels can cost hundreds of dollars. Specialty reels, such as those used on charter boats and deep-sea fishing boats, can run into the thousands. Ultrasonic cleaners can keep these reels clean and well maintained, giving fisherman more years of use out of their most important equipment.

Fast, Easy and Precise

Ultrasonic cleaners can also save time on cleaning chores that would normally be done by hand. Hand-cleaning with brushes and solvents could take several hours, require intense scrubbing and still not accomplish the task as thoroughly as an ultrasonic cleaner can in a fraction of the time. The millions of small bubbles the ultrasonic cleaner produces can reach parts of these complex instruments that no hand-held tool can touch.

While most fishermen have their reels packed away for the winter, an ultrasonic cleaner can still be a great tool when preparing for the spring fishing season. A clean reel with a smooth action can be the difference between a trophy catch and another story about “the one that got away”.


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