There is no great secret regarding fishing reels. If you take care of them after every use and service them at least once or twice a year it will extend the reliability and life of the reel. It doesn’t matter if you fish inshore, offshore, lakes, rivers, saltwater or fresh; old grease, sand, salt and grit can bind the gears and can cause excess wear on parts and possibly cause the loss of a trophy fish.
Of all the reel’s parts, bearings and drag washers are the most important. If you feel the reel binding or you’re not getting the distance when casting, the cause could be “dirt, old grease or a bad bearing.” There are many types of bearings, stainless and ceramic. Without hesitation if a bearing needs replacement, we replace it with a stainless steel, ABEC-5 or ABEC-7. For those anglers where weight and casting distance is everything, I suggest ceramic, as they are 2/3 the weight, virtually frictionless and harder than steel with less corrosion issues.
Depending how much you fish, drag washers should be replaced periodically or in some cases cleaned to remove the grit and grime. A basic test for drag washers is to start by tightening down the drag and pulling line off the reel by hand. If the line is slipping or jerky as you pull, it’s time to change out the drag’s washer. We’ve learned that replacement should be what the manufacturer recommends; substituting could change the dynamics of the reel performance. Wet or dry drag washers; that’s a discussion in itself. We let our customers decide what they want.
Regular cleaning of your fishing equipment is essential for peak performance. If nothing else, rinsing with fresh water will help. Our company has developed the product 4 Reel Cleaner. Just spray on after each use and you’ll dramatically extend the lifetime of any reel by eliminating harmful salts, grit, stains, mold and blood. It’s also safe on all fishing lines including braids, mono and fly lines.
Whether you service the reels yourself or send them out, reels should be completely torn down, parts cleaned and inspected for wear. Inspect bearings for noise or binding. Check for worn or broken drag washers, and replace them if needed. Then re-assemble reels using the highest quality lubrication available.
4 Reel Services has been serving the fishing community since 2006 in southeast Florida. We service a full spectrum of reels including salt and freshwater reels, power-assist reels, electric reels and downriggers.
By Capt. Pete Bilardello