Reel Tips and Techniques

Now days, anglers are interested in cleaning and maintaining their own reels, changing out bearings, jazzing up the gears and constantly pushing their reels to the edge of design. I hope you will find the following information interesting and beneficial to you in your quest to have a perfect fishing reel.


This part stops handle from turning backwards. It is either one of two types. The older reels (left) have a anti-reverse dog that is mounted on a frame post and it has 2 claws and it must straddle the drive shaft ratchet. The other type (right) is called an Instant Anti-Reverse (IAR) and it is mounted in the cranking side plate.

* ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee)

Bearing manufacturers design and manufacture their bearings to meet this standard. The number following the ABEC the 1-3-5-7 indicates the tolerance of the bearing. The higher the number, the tighter the tolerance. All reel manufacturers have Precision Miniature Bearings in their reels.

* Bearing clip removal/installation

These are the retaining clips that hold bearings in place. Usually Octagon shaped.

Removing a clip is fairly simple. Put your forefinger over the bearing clip, use a pair of tweezers and grab hold of the clip, slide tweezer ends toward the clip end and pull end of clip in and lift out the clip. All the while, keeping forefinger over the clip. Be careful, they sometimes take on a life of their own.

Installing is just as easy. Put your forefinger over bearing cavity, using tweezers install the back of the bearing clip and one side and then slide the tweezer up towards the free end of clip pull in and push down. It's a done deal!

* Bearing clips, E clips, and drag springwashers

The photos don't clearly show these parts so I wanted to include a close-up. The bearing retaining clip is in the upper left corner. Beside it is an E clip. On the bottom, I'm holding some spring washers in the correct orientation ( ). These are oversized for detail.

* Bearing Removal

Unfold a paper clip, bend one end at a right angle. Now, you have a bearing puller. Insert right angle inside the bearing and lift out. Paper clip makes a great tool.

* Bearing Installation

Position bearing over bearing cavity. Using forefinger apply even pressure to seat the bearing. Never hit or use heavy force to seat bearing. The tolerance between the outside of bearing and the inside of the bearing cavity is close.

* Bearing Maintenance

Cleanliness and care of bearings is very important. Clean bearings in a bottle cap or small jar with Lighter fluid or Acetone in it. Swish bearings around until clean. Air dry on a towel. Spin on end of screwdriver to ensure they are spinning freely. Apply one drop of oil per bearing.

* Chemicals

It is not a good idea to use chemicals on reels and this is why….The use of harsh chemicals such as gasoline on plastic parts in reels may not show up until later. The chemicals can corrode parts. Use of a bio-degradable cleaner is highly recommended to clean reels and parts.

* Copper Insulators

These are located in the palming side plate of reel and inside the Cast Control Cap They may be round or rectangular in shape. From time to time, they will get dented due to the tightening of the Cast Control Cap causing the spool shaft ends to indent the insulator. Check them and turn them over so the smooth side will be in contact with spool shaft ends. Apply one small drop of oil to the insulator.

* Curved washers

They are actually called Drag Spring Washers. These two washers should always be mounted ( ) one curved up and one curved down. This is necessary for compression when the star drag under the handle is tightened down.

* E Clips

These clips are shaped like an E. Remove by positioning your forefinger over them. Insert tip of open tweezer into back of the E, pull out just a tad until able to grab hold of the clip completely to remove it. Be sure to hold finger over the clip until you got a good bite on it with tweezers. Don't want you to wear out knees of britches crawling around on floor looking for those little suckers! Been there and done that!

* Grease

The application of grease is important. Grease should be applied at the base of the gear teeth so when the teeth of the gears mesh together, the grease is being used as intended. Wiping the outside of gears with grease will cause the grease to splatter inside of the reel and all is lost. Grease with a good temperature rating is preferred. Never use Vaseline.

* Line Guide

It is the piece at front of reel with an eyelet that line is threaded from the reel spool to the rod. The line guide travels from back and forth on the worm gear. It holds the line guide pawl. Check for wear periodically with a Q-Tip or some nylon pantyhose material.

* Line Guide Pawl

This small piece is mounted in the cavity on the line guide and held in place by a cap. The pawl travels between the flattened teeth of the worm gear. If pawl is hanging up or stopping on one side of the reel, remove and inspect it. Examine the sides looking for scratches and gowges . The tips will be worn and not sharply pointed. The worm gear may have burrs or scratches also on the flattened teeth. Generally, it is a good idea to replace both at the same time.

* Line Slipping

If braided line on spool and the drag will not tighten down and line is slipping on the spool, the solution to this problem is to spool at least 10-15 yards of monofilament line next to spool arbor, then tie the braided line to the monofilament. A uni-uni knot works well for this connection.

* Oil

Rocket Fuel oil is available in three viscosities. The Tournament is very thin and used mostly by anglers in Casting Contests and must be applied quite frequently. Next , is the Yellow and is of medium viscosity and is used by most of us anglers. It doesn't have to be applied as often, Probably twice a season , depending on how much reel is used. The last oil is the Red and is the thickest and used by anglers wanting to slow down their reel. Rocket Fuel possesses slightly adhesive qualities at the start of the cast, yet is free running at end of cast. It will not evaporate, so the reel bearings will not film over, or have the oil in them turn to sludge. The oil will not mix with water, has a wide temperature range. It is not affected by any normal temperature differences and due to its slightly adhesive qualities, it will not easily be thrown off.

* ReelX

This product is made by the Corrosion Technologies folks. It is a new, high-tech, extreme pressure lubricant that stops and prevents wear, corrosion and rust. It contains no wax, tar, silicone, or other solids, so it can't gum up. It outperforms all other lubricants, displaces moisture and won't harm monofilament line.

* Quantum Hot Sauce

This oil is the new kid on the block! Working with lubrication specialists, the engineers developed their own lubrication called Quantum Hot Sauce. It has some very unique properties not found in ordinary reel oils. Its low viscosity allows for an extremely free rotation of the crank handle and a lightning-fast Free Spool that may scare you. Special additives cause the lubricant to bond moleculary with the base metal providing superior corrosion protection and a lubrication bond that remains---permanently.

* Pinion

As the handle is turned in the retrieve mode, the pinion sets down on the spool shaft. If retrieve is started prior to lure landing, the pinion doesn't get a chance to seat on the spool shaft. After a period of time, there will be a clatter click and that is the pinion trying to seat on the spool shaft. The pinion stops the spool rotation If pinion not seated, the fish will be hauling off and you probably can't turn or stop the get-away.

* Reel cleaning

Cleaning a reel isn't as difficult or scary as one might think. Use a bio-degradeable cleaner and an old cake pan, or your wife' new one will be fine.

Lay out strips of tape (masking tape will do) on table and write numbers on tape every 2 inches or so. As you remove a part, lay it by the number. For instance, the first thing removed should be the nut cap screw on handle nut cap. Lay the screw on number one, lay the nut cap on number 2, lay the handle nut on 3. Continue until all parts are removed. To re-install parts, start with the highest number and do so until the last part mounted which is the nut cap screw laying on the number one. It is very important to jot down on piece of paper the orientation of part if you don't have a schematic. I tell all anglers to orient the reel the same way each time it is picked up. Doing this allows you to install parts correctly and will eliminate confusion of part installation.

* Smoooooth Drag Washers

These drag washers are comprised of a high-density fiber material and silicone. The fiber draws off the heat rapidly, and the silicone provides lubrication to materials that reach very high temperatures. These drag washers require no grease.

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