Saltwater is impressive in its ability to creep into, and destroy almost anything. Fishing reels, even those specifically designed for harsh saltwater conditions, are no exception. Saltwater (and sand, for the surf guys) manages to find its way into every part of a fishing reel.
Luckily, all is not lost in the fight against saltwater intrusion. A few simple things, when done on a regular basis, can greatly extend the life of a fishing reel.
1. Always lightly rinse (don't use high pressure) reels after every use in saltwater.
2. Clean the outside of the reel with a soft mitt or brush and a non abrasive dish or boat soap.
3. Shake off any excess water after rinsing, and dry with soft towel or shammy.
4. Store all reels (spinning, baitcast, and leverdrags) with the drag backed off.
5. Depending on how much use the reel gets, have it cleaned professionally once to twice a year (Heavier used reels should be cleaned more often).