Reel Care Part II: The Do Not’s

Reel Maintenance is Important to any serious angler!

Keep Them Clean!

The first article of this series talked about the “Do’s” of fishing reel care, now we will discuss some do not’s. There are many things that will cause your baitcasting reels to fail, we will talk about them and what you can do to avoid costly repair bills.

Lack of or improper cleaning many be the biggest culprit when it comes to worn and damaged reels. Everyone talks about the Shimano Curado 200B (Green) as being a bullet proof reel; while it can take being extremely mistreated it too can fail if not properly taken care of. Your fishing reels are an important part of your fishing ability and regular maintenance is a sure way to make sure that you don’t go without.

Ever been fishing with that guy who’s reel is making noise every time he casts it? “Oh it just has some dirt in it”, then he dunks it in the lake a couple times and says “that should do it”. And yep the noise is gone for a little while and then it comes back. This is probably the worst thing (other than never servicing your reels) that you can do to your equipment. When you completely submerge your reel in water, the fiber drag washers soak it up, the gears lubricants are washed away, and the oil is being flushed out of your reels bearings. Eventually this reel will lock up from lack of lubrication and corrosion. The drag washers are compressed between the drive gear and the drag plate, when the washers get saturated with water and then add compression, you have a very quick reaction called oxidization and it will cause your drag system to completely lock up and you may loose the fish of a life time. Let’s recap, flushes oil out of bearings which will lead to them seizing, washes grease off the gears causing teeth to break and stripping, drag washers soak up the water and cause oxidization and the drag system locks up; sounds like bad mojo to me! Don’t dunk and fish!

WD40, the fix all, right? Wrong, WD40 is a cleaner with penetration qualities and quickly dissolves grease and oils. If you have your reel disassembled and want something to clean it with this would work great, however I recommend Simple Green. WD40, since it is an aerosol, could help while on the water to clean dirt and debris out of a reel or bearing, to keep you going for the day, however make sure to have it serviced ASAP after a situation like this. By spraying your reel with WD40 you have dissolved everything in it that was protecting it.

Oversized Handles have become a trend in “Amping up” your fishing equipment. By placing an oversized handle on your reel the goal is to increase the gear ratio and make it retrieve faster. While this is true and it does work, you are also changing the stress management factor of the gears inside the reel. Most reels will be able to support this added stress, however eventually the gear system is going to fail. Either by a fractured tooth or a crack in the gear it’s self. It’s going to take a load to cause this to happen and guess when that load will be, when you are trying to retrieve the fish of a life time. The manufacturers of today’s reels have put a lot of technology and field testing time in and they have squeezed every ounce of performance out of today’s reels. If you want to achieve a faster gear ratio, look into changing the drive gear and pinion gear or look at a different reel. Changing the handle is a risky proposition in today’s bass fishing tools.

Many reels on the market today have brake systems that allow you to turn on or off a set of 6 brakes that rotate on the end of the spool. When adjusting a system such as this try to keep the brakes symmetrical. If you have 1 or 5 applied this is pretty much impossible but with 2, 3, and 4 make sure to have them as symmetrical as possible to makes sure the spool maintains the best balance. Believe it or not when you make a long cast with a heavy lure that spool is rotating at a high rate of speed and the slightest bit of dirt on the end of the spool can cause vibration and reduce the reels performance, so keeping the brakes (which are heavy in relation to the performance of the reel) as symmetrical as possible is very important to maximum casting and overall performance.  In reels with these types of braking systems do not remove the brakes completely. I hear so many folks say that they just don’t like them at all and completely remove them. These types of reels were designed to use these brakes whether on or off. The best analogy I can give you is a figure skater on ice, when they go into a spin the tighter their arms are to their body the faster the spin, if they let their arms out they slow down and then if they want to speed up they bring their arms in again. By having the weights next to the spool shaft you are achieving a faster spool rate. So a spool with all the brakes in the off position will spin faster than a spool with all the brakes removed. With that said and a good thumb, the person with the brakes in the off position will be able to out distance the person with the brakes completely removed.

Don’t engage the reel in the middle of a cast? On the same note make sure that the reel is completely disengaged before casting. This is probably the most damaging single event that can happen to a reel. In the middle of a cast the spool is traveling as fast as it can and when the pinion gear is suddenly engaged, there are two places on the pinion gear that get damaged. First the cross hatches that engage with the spool and second the teeth that engage with the drive gear. The spool is spinning and the drive gear is not, when you engage the reel at this time the pinion gear tries to connect the spool to the drive shaft and it’s at this point that something has to give. Thankfully the pinion gear usually takes the brunt of it, I say thankfully because it is the cheapest of the three to replace. Most of us are pretty good about not engaging a bait caster during a cast, however I have seen reels that are very dirty and have been having problems with the spool release system and folks keep fishing with them, this is where most of these type of problems come from, so if your reel is having issues have it looked at before you do some real damage that may get expensive to repair.

Don’t use motor oil as a lubricant. Although it sounds like a great idea, I mean look at the technology put into these products, the problem is they are way too heavy for the micro bearings in your reels. Motor oils will actually cause your reels to loose performance and your casting distance will be greatly shortened. Another factor is because they are so heavy, this type of oil will gather dust and debris very quickly; this too will slow down your reel and possibly damage a bearing inside.

To close this segment I would like to say, “If your reel is making noise don’t keep casting it!” If your reel is making a funny noise, that means something is wrong, continuing to casting it only damaging it further. This will lead to costly repair bills that quite possibly will be more than the reel is worth! If you have a steady hand, and some basic knowledge of reel maintenance you more than likely can fix it yourself, if not take it to a professional and have it repaired. Many times if you take immediate action the repair is very simple and not very expensive. I have seen all too often that a screw inside a reel loosened up or backed out and caused issues that were not attended too and the inevitable was a pricy repair bill when it could have been a simple tightening of a screw!

Get The Net, It’s a Hawg,
Mike Cork

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