Friday, January 16, 2015

DIY Reel Maintenace Made Easy

Not that we are all not dummies when it comes to reel maintenance but for some this is an overwhelming task especially for kayak anglers fishing in saltwater. After all we are fishing nearly at the same level as the fish we are chasing which provides a greater risk that our reels will be more in contact with the saltwater then if we were fishing from a boat, dock/pier or from the shoreline. Although I have stated saltwater what I’m going to provide a simplified approached to cleaning and maintaining your fishing reels will also apply to those that fish freshwater as well. The only difference is the frequency of maintenance on your reels.

The frequency for saltwater anglers needs to be after every trip on the water and for the freshwater angler could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, twice or once a year. Whatever the frequency; remember that your fishing reel is the most important tool and investment for catching that record breaking fish. Does it have to be a 100% tear apart your fishing reels process? I don’t think so but that depends on the situation that your equipment has endured during your trip.
If your fishing trip had incidents that caused you to submerge your reel into the water or tested that rod that claims that it will float with the reel attached you will have to either take your reel into your local reel repairperson or do the maintenance yourself. If your trip had no incidents then a simple approach to cleaning and maintenance is all you would need to do. First let’s look at how to clean your fishing reel after an incident free fishing trip.
After a day’s fishing there are several methods that you can use to clean your fishing reel.
  • When you get home you can take the garden hose with a spray nozzle adjusted to a light spray to rinse off any salt or dirt debris from the reel. Some anglers might even take their expensive reels into the shower with them. While others might consider soaking the rod and reel in a bucket of water. I don’t have a problem with the garden hose method but the shower concept scares me having those hooks close by while taking a shower with my rods & reels. Soaking your reels in a bucket of water is like submerging your equipment in the water when you are fishing. The water might be clean when compared to that water that you are fishing but I would discourage you from cleaning the reels in this manner.
  • Another suggestion is to use a reel cleaner like Penn Rod & Reel Cleaner after a day of fishing on your reels and those rods as well. I will spray on my reels after each trip then lightly wipe down when I get home to help prevent moisture and salt build-up that can cause corrosion. Using this method is very simple.
  • My last simple solution is to use Blakemore’s Real Magic. This is not a cleaner but a petroleum distillate. This product claims to reduce line memory and helps in casting distance. It is also very friendly on marine electronics but preventing corrosion and UV damage. I will use this product on my reels prior to getting on the water to protect my reels with paddle spray or waves slapping the kayak.
These three suggestions are great preventative measures to ensure the longevity of your investment in fishing reels. But these methods will not prevent damaged to your reels that have been submerged in the water or temporarily lost to Davy Jone’s locker. When your reels have been put into the fish’s habitant you will have to open that reel up for some deep cleaning. At this time I need to inform you that each reel is a little different but the basics are the same. In my opinion the majority of anglers use a spinning reel so the instructions from this point on will be concerned with this type of reel.
  1. Assemble the proper tools before starting. You will need two small screwdrivers (a standard screwdriver & a Phillips), a pair of tweezers and an old toothbrush and a toothpick. If you have the wrench and parts list that came with your reel have them handy as well.
  2. Assemble the cleaning supplies. I will be using Penn Rod & Reel Cleaner but you could use Simple Green cleaning compound, Ronsonol Lighter Fluid, etc. something that will help remove the contaminated oil/grease. Along with the cleaner I will be using the Penn Angler Pack that contains synthetic reel oil and precision reel grease. Other items that will work is Quantum's Hot Sauce grease and Hot Sauce oil, Ardent Reel Butter grease and oil, I’m sure that there are other products but these are what is available at my local tackle shops.
  3. Now comes the scary part of this tip on maintenance of your fishing reels. You will now disassemble your reel. When I’m taking my reel apart I will lay the parts on a mat. I will add a strip of masking tape under the line of parts. Number the parts as you remove it from the reel. This will allow you to assembly the reel by following the number sequence in reversed order.
  4. I suggest that you always hold your reel in the same hand when disassembling and putting it back together. So I always hold the reel in my left hand and work with my right. This keeps the reel oriented the same way during the disassembly and assembling of the reel.
  5. When disassembly of the reel you might notice that there is never metal against metal. All manufacturers of reels have the parts designed metal to fiber. If you are numbering the parts as they are removed from the reel and reverse the numerical sequence during assembly you will not really have to be worried about this rule.
  6. Use the tweezers to handle springs and wire clips. Using the proper tool to handle these parts should help preventing them from flying all over the place and getting lost.
  7. Either remove or secure the fishing line before you remove the spool. If you decide not to remove the fishing line you can either secure it with masking tape or that little clip on the spool. By not securing the line you are providing the opportunity for the line to get caught between the spool and the reel frame making removal very difficult.
  8. Clean the parts with the Penn Rod & Reel Cleaner. Don’t use gasoline or similar products to remove dirt and grease from the parts. These products will damage plastics. Use a biodegradable product and a toothbrush that will not harm the plastic or fiber parts of the reel.
  9. Apply the grease to the bottom of the teeth on the gears, not the top. Applying the grease to the tops of the teeth will allow the gears to throw the grease everywhere. You want it in the bottom. You do not need to slop the grease all over the place; a light coating is all you will need. This is where the toothpick will be handy to apply the grease to the bottom of the teeth.
  10. Clean the bearings with the cleaner or you could use lighter fluid. Remove the dirt and grunge from the bearings. After they are cleaned give them a spin. This will tell you if they are clean. Oil them with synthetic reel oil. One drop per bearing.

After all that put your reel back together ensuring that there are no extra parts left over. Check to make sure everything is operating the way it should. Back the drag off and apply a little Reel Magic to the exterior to protect the fishing and line. Casting reels can be maintained using this same process. Just keep in mind that basics of staying organized, cleaning properly, greasing the bottom of the gear teeth and a drop of oil on each bearing.


  1. Is your spinning reel telling you that it needs a little TLC? Some maintenance perhaps? It is if, over the past couple of fishing trips, your reel feels like it is slowly filling with sand. If the handle sticks in one spot on the retrieve, making rhythmic presentations difficult. Or if the reel binds after getting wet. You may think that it's time to replace the reel. But an hour with some grease, an old toothbrush, rubbing alcohol, and a quality reel oil will make your reel feel like it did right out of the box.

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  3. I also generally prefer Shimano over other
    fishing reels because of the durability, construction and strength to get hold of the bait even during a fish fight. No work, no gain.

  4. Just read your article. Good one. I liked it. Keep going. you are a best writer your site is very useful and informative thanks for sharing!

  5. As should be obvious there are numerous things you have to remember when purchasing a reel notwithstanding when it is a draw throwing