Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide: Keep Reels in Prime Condition

Fishing reel maintenance is not just a hobby; it’s a passion that keeps us connected to nature and provides moments of tranquillity amidst life’s chaos. Whether you’re an experienced angler or just starting your fishing journey, taking care of your fishing gear is crucial. Among your fishing equipment, your fishing reel is undoubtedly one of the most vital components.

Proper maintenance of your fishing reel can extend its lifespan, improve performance, and ensure a smooth fishing experience. In this comprehensive guide by GoodBaits, we will delve into the intricacies of fishing reel maintenance. We’ll cover everything from basic cleaning and lubrication to more advanced troubleshooting and repairs. So, let’s dive in and learn how to keep your fishing reels in prime condition!

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Why Is Fishing Reel Maintenance Important?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of reel maintenance, let’s understand why it’s so crucial. Your fishing reel is exposed to harsh conditions – water, sand, mud, and fishy residue can take a toll on its performance over time. Here’s why maintenance matters:

  1. Performance: A well-maintained reel performs better. You’ll experience smoother casts, efficient line retrieval, and improved drag settings.
  2. Durability: Regular maintenance can prevent corrosion and damage caused by exposure to saltwater or freshwater environments. It can significantly extend the lifespan of your reel.
  3. Cost-Efficiency: Proper maintenance reduces the need for expensive repairs or replacements. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure your gear stays in top shape.
  4. Reliability: When you’re out on the water, you want gear you can rely on. Routine maintenance minimizes the risk of equipment failure during a fishing trip.

Now that you understand the importance of reel maintenance, let’s move on to the step-by-step guide to keeping your fishing reels in pristine condition.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Before you start cleaning and maintaining your fishing reels, gather all the necessary supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clean, soft cloths: Microfiber or cotton cloths work well for wiping down and drying your reels.
  • Toothbrush: A soft-bristle toothbrush is ideal for cleaning small, hard-to-reach areas.
  • Fishing reel oil: High-quality reel oil specifically designed for fishing reels is essential.
  • Fishing reel grease: Similarly, choose a reel grease made for fishing gear to lubricate the appropriate parts.
  • Screwdrivers and pliers: You may need these tools for disassembling and reassembling certain reel components.
  • Rubbing alcohol or a mild detergent: Use this for cleaning reel parts and removing old grease and grime.
  • Reel schematic: If available, refer to your reel’s schematic for guidance during disassembly and reassembly.
  • Work area: Set up a clean, well-lit workspace where you can comfortably work on your reels.

Step 2: Fishing Reel Disassembly (If Required)

Not all reels require disassembly for routine maintenance, but some may benefit from a partial breakdown to access internal components. If you’re uncomfortable with this step or unsure about reassembly, it’s best to skip it or seek professional help. For those comfortable with disassembly:

  1. Consult your reel’s schematic to understand its internal components and their placement.
  2. Remove the reel’s handle, spool, and side plates as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Lay out the removed parts in the order you took them off for easy reassembly.

Step 3: Fishing Reel Cleaning

Cleaning is a critical part of reel maintenance. It removes dirt, salt, and debris that can hinder performance and cause premature wear. Here’s how to clean your fishing reel effectively:

  1. Wipe Down Exteriors: Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe down the exterior of the reel, removing any surface dirt, salt, or grime. Pay attention to the handle, body, and reel foot.
  2. Clean Side Plates: If you’ve removed the side plates, clean them with a mixture of mild detergent and water. Rinse and dry thoroughly before reassembly.
  3. Remove Old Grease: Check the gears and bearings for old grease buildup. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove the old grease and dirt.
  4. Inspect Line Roller: Carefully inspect the line roller for any tangles or debris. Clean it gently with a toothbrush or cotton swab.
  5. Clean Spool: Remove the spool and clean it thoroughly. Pay attention to the spool lip, as debris here can affect casting distance.
  6. Check Drag Washers: Inspect the drag washers for signs of wear or damage. Clean and replace them if necessary.
  7. Reel Frame: Wipe down the reel frame, removing any remaining dirt or residue.

Step 4: Fishing Reel Lubrication

Proper lubrication is essential to ensure your reel’s moving parts function smoothly. Here’s how to lubricate your fishing reel:

  1. Apply Reel Oil: Apply a drop or two of reel oil to key areas, including the handle knobs, ball bearings, and gear teeth. Avoid over-oiling, as excess oil can attract dirt.
  2. Grease Moving Parts: Use reel grease on parts that require a thicker lubricant, such as gears and bearings. Apply sparingly to avoid excess buildup.
  3. Reassemble Carefully: If you’ve disassembled your reel, reassemble it carefully, following the schematic and the order in which you removed the parts.

Step 5: Fishing Reel Drag Adjustment

Check and adjust your reel’s drag system as needed. Drag settings vary depending on the target species and fishing conditions. It’s essential to have the right drag tension to prevent line breakage when fighting fish. Refer to your reel’s manual for guidance on proper drag adjustment.

Step 6: Fishing Reel Reassembly

If you partially disassembled your reel, carefully reassemble it using the schematic and in the reverse order of disassembly. Pay close attention to alignment and ensure all parts fit snugly together.

Step 7: Final Reel Inspection

Before your next fishing trip, perform a final inspection of your reel:

  • Confirm that all parts are securely fastened.
  • Check the handle, spool, and drag adjustment.
  • Spin the reel to ensure smooth operation.

Step 8: Fishing Reel Storage

Proper storage is essential for maintaining your reel’s condition:

  • Store your reel in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Use reel covers or protective cases to prevent dust and damage during storage.
  • Avoid hanging reels vertically for extended periods, as it can cause warping.

By following these maintenance steps, you’ll ensure that your fishing reels stay in prime condition, ready to perform when you hit the water. Regular upkeep is key to enjoying a seamless and successful fishing experience.

In the next sections of this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deeper into advanced troubleshooting, reel repair, and additional tips for specific types of fishing reels. Stay tuned for more in-depth insights into keeping your gear in top shape.

Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide: Advanced Techniques and Troubleshooting

Welcome back to GoodBaits’ comprehensive Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide. In Part 1, we covered the basics of cleaning, lubricating, and maintaining your fishing reel. Now, in Part 2, we’ll delve deeper into advanced maintenance techniques, troubleshooting common issues, and provide tips for specific types of fishing reels. Let’s continue our journey towards keeping your gear in prime condition!

Advanced Maintenance Techniques

1. Fishing Reel Bearing Maintenance

While basic maintenance involves oiling bearings, you may encounter situations where you need to disassemble and clean them thoroughly:

  • Disassembly: Carefully remove the bearings from the reel using appropriate tools. Be cautious not to damage them during removal.
  • Cleaning: Soak the bearings in a specialized bearing cleaner or a suitable solvent to remove old grease and debris. Use a soft brush or compressed air to clean hard-to-reach areas.
  • Lubrication: After cleaning, apply a minimal amount of high-quality bearing oil. Ensure even distribution, and spin the bearings to work in the lubricant.

2. Fishing Reel Calibration

Calibrating your reel involves adjusting various components to achieve optimal performance:

  • Brake Settings: Fine-tune brake settings to control casting distance and backlash. Experiment with different settings to find the sweet spot for your casting style.
  • Handle Bearings: Check and upgrade handle knobs with ball bearings for smoother operation. Lubricate these bearings regularly.
  • Gear Meshing: Ensure gears mesh correctly. If you notice roughness or noise during operation, disassemble and inspect gear teeth for damage or wear.

3. Preventing Saltwater Corrosion

If you frequently fish in saltwater environments, preventing corrosion is paramount:

  • Rinse After Use: After each saltwater trip, rinse your reel thoroughly with freshwater to remove salt and debris. Pay attention to all nooks and crannies.
  • Disassembly: Periodically disassemble your reel and clean internal components to prevent salt buildup. Reapply grease and oil as needed.
  • Use Corrosion Inhibitors: Apply corrosion inhibitors specifically designed for fishing reels to protect metal parts. These products create a protective barrier against saltwater.

Troubleshooting Common Reel Issues

1. Reel Won’t Cast Smoothly

If your reel experiences casting issues, it’s likely due to incorrect brake settings or a dirty line guide:

  • Brake Adjustment: Adjust the brake system to match your lure weight and casting style. Experiment with different settings until you find the right balance between distance and control.
  • Clean Line Guide: Check the line guide for debris or line tangles. Clean it thoroughly with a toothbrush or cotton swab and lubricate if necessary.

2. Handle Turns Roughly

A rough-turning handle can hinder reeling in your catch. Here’s how to address it:

  • Handle Knob Lubrication: Apply reel oil or grease to the handle knob’s bearings or bushings. Ensure smooth, even distribution.
  • Check Handle Alignment: Inspect the handle alignment with the reel’s body. Adjust or reassemble it if needed.

3. Reel Makes Grinding Noises

Grinding noises often indicate an issue with gears or bearings:

  • Gear Inspection: Disassemble the reel and inspect the gear teeth for damage or wear. Replace damaged gears and ensure proper alignment during reassembly.
  • Bearing Maintenance: Clean and lubricate bearings. If the noise persists, consider replacing worn-out bearings with high-quality replacements.

Tips for Specific Reel Types

1. Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels require meticulous maintenance due to their complexity:

  • Spool Tension: Adjust spool tension to minimize backlash while maximizing casting distance.
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean and lubricate the level-wind system and worm gear regularly. Remove side plates for deeper cleaning when needed.

2. Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are known for their user-friendliness:

  • Anti-Reverse Switch: Ensure the anti-reverse switch engages smoothly to prevent handle reversal during fights with fish.
  • Line Roller Maintenance: Clean and lubricate the line roller to prevent line twists and tangles.

3. Fly Reels

Fly reels are susceptible to debris and require special attention:

  • Backing Check: Inspect the backing for tangles and smooth spooling. Ensure proper backing alignment for even line distribution.
  • Drag System: Check the drag system’s smoothness and adjust it according to the target species.


By following the advanced techniques, troubleshooting advice, and reel-specific tips in Part 2 of our Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide, you can elevate your reel maintenance skills to the next level. Remember that regular upkeep is key to enjoying seamless fishing experiences and prolonging the life of your fishing gear.

Maintaining your fishing reel may seem daunting at first, but with practice and patience, you’ll become a pro at keeping your reels in prime condition. Your dedication to maintenance will pay off in the form of improved performance, durability, and countless memorable fishing moments.

Stay tuned for more expert insights and guides from Good Baits, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have specific questions about reel maintenance or fishing gear. Tight lines and happy fishing!

Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide: Reel Types and Specialised Care

Welcome back to GoodBaits’ Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide. In Part 3, we’ll explore various reel types and their specialised care requirements. Whether you own a baitcasting, spinning, or fly reel, understanding the unique maintenance needs of each type is crucial for prolonging their lifespan and ensuring top performance. Let’s dive into the world of reel-specific care!

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels are known for their versatility and are popular among anglers seeking precision casting. To keep your baitcasting reel in optimal condition, consider the following care tips:

1. Spool Tension Adjustment

Proper spool tension adjustment is key to preventing backlash and ensuring smooth casting:

  • Fine-Tune the Spool Tension Knob: Adjust the knob to match your lure’s weight and casting style. Start with a tighter setting and gradually loosen it until you achieve the desired casting distance without backlash.

2. Cleaning the Level-Wind System

The level-wind system on baitcasting reels helps distribute the line evenly on the spool. Here’s how to maintain it:

  • Regular Cleaning: Remove side plates to access the level-wind system. Clean it thoroughly with a toothbrush or cotton swab to remove dirt, debris, and old grease. Lubricate moving parts with reel oil.

3. Worm Gear Maintenance

The worm gear plays a crucial role in baitcasting reel operation:

  • Cleaning: Periodically disassemble the reel to access the worm gear. Clean it thoroughly, removing any accumulated dirt and old lubricants.
  • Lubrication: Apply a small amount of specialized worm gear grease to ensure smooth operation. Avoid over-lubrication, as excess grease can attract debris.

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are favored for their ease of use and versatility. To maintain your spinning reel, pay attention to the following:

1. Anti-Reverse Switch

The anti-reverse switch prevents the handle from turning backward during a fight with a fish. Ensure it functions smoothly:

  • Regular Lubrication: Apply reel oil to the anti-reverse switch to keep it moving freely. Check for any signs of wear or stiffness.

2. Line Roller Care

The line roller plays a crucial role in preventing line twists and tangles:

  • Cleaning: Periodically clean the line roller with a toothbrush or cotton swab to remove dirt and debris. Lubricate it with reel oil to ensure smooth rotation.

Fly Reels

Fly reels are highly specialized and require unique maintenance:

1. Backing Inspection

Backing provides essential support for fly lines. Regularly inspect it to ensure it’s in good condition:

  • Tangle Check: Ensure that the backing is spooled neatly without tangles or knots that could hinder line distribution.
  • Proper Alignment: Check that the backing is correctly aligned on the spool to prevent uneven line distribution.

2. Drag System Check

The drag system on fly reels is crucial for controlling fish during fights:

  • Smoothness Test: Test the drag system’s smoothness by adjusting it and simulating the pressure of a hooked fish. Ensure it operates seamlessly without sudden jerks or sticking.
  • Lubrication: Apply a specialized fly reel drag grease to the drag components if necessary. Avoid using excessive grease, as it can attract dirt.


Understanding the specialized care requirements of different reel types is essential for maintaining their longevity and peak performance. Whether you own a baitcasting, spinning, or fly reel, regular maintenance ensures that your gear operates smoothly and reliably on every fishing trip.

By following the reel-specific care tips provided in Part 3 of our Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the unique challenges each reel type presents. Remember that a well-maintained reel contributes to successful fishing adventures and unforgettable moments on the water.

Stay tuned for more expert insights and guides from Good Baits, where we’re committed to helping you get the most out of your fishing gear. If you have specific questions about reel maintenance or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Until next time, tight lines and happy fishing!


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