How to Fix a Fishing Reel: Problems and Solutions

By Sonnox | Fishing Advice

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Whether you invest in an expensive piece of fishing gear or you’re using hand-me-downs that are as tried-and-true as they could get, there will come a time when your gear simply breaks. Some broken parts aren’t easily fixable, while others, you can learn how to fix on your own!

One of the most important troubleshooting tips that you can learn is how to fix a fishing reel. When you can fix your own reel at the moment or when you get home after a day of fishing crappie and walleye, you can save yourself some money, time, and frustration.

How to Fix a Fishing Reel

Not every reel will be fixable at home, but there are a few things you can try when you’ve got a broken reel on your hands! Keep in mind that the solution you are looking for might not be here, but maybe one of these fix-it options will inspire your very own solution.

Problem #1: Twisted Line

If your reel isn’t working right because the line is twisted, you’ll need to first remove the old line and then apply a new line. Make sure that you move the line uniformly with enough tension to keep it from slacking where you don’t want it to be loose. If possible, having your reel spooled with a machine can prevent twisting.

Problem #2: Worn Out Bearings

Another common issue with reels is that the bearings will wear out completely. Sometimes, the bearings will actually be corroded and cracked. At other times, the bearings will simply be so dirty that they don’t function properly.

When this happens inside your reel, you have two options. First, you can try to de-grease the bearings. Disassemble the entire reel, and then soak the bearings in a degreaser formula. Then, clean them with a mild detergent, dry them, and reassemble the reel.

Another option is to simply replace the bearings. Bearings are very inexpensive, so this is likely to be a better option for most people.

Problem #3: Oil Causing Too Much Drag

If you recently relubricated the bearings in your reel and now you are having performance issues, there’s a good chance that the bearings have been overlubricated. The simple fact of the matter is not all oils and lubricants are created equal, and using the wrong type or too much lubricant can create unnecessary tension in your reel.

When you are adding oil to bearings, make sure you only use a tiny amount. A little bit of lubricant goes a long way, after all, and putting more than you need is sure to cause problems.

Another thing that you will want to double check is the type of lubricant or oil you use when cleaning and lubricating your reel. The type of oil used in the bearings should match the type of bearings that you have.

Choose the appropriate oil or lubricant for steel and ceramic bearings accordingly, and you will be able to get better performance out of your reel.

Problem #4: Baitcasting Reel Come In Roughly

If you have a baitcasting reel that isn’t pulling the line in as easily as it once was, there’s a good chance you have a problem with the level wind.

The level wind is the part of the baitcasting which keeps the line coming in uniformly and smoothly. Due to where it is located on a baitcasting reel, the level wind can easily become clogged with dirt, sand, oil, grime, and any number of other types of debris.

Fishers who put their baitcasting reels on the ground frequently will have the biggest problem with this.

To fix this problem, you can use a cloth to wipe down the level wind. If there is a lot of buildup on your level wind or it is hard to access on your reel, you may need to disassemble the reel in order to clean this part. In some cases, the level wind may need to be replaced completely.

Problem #5: My Problem Isn’t Listed!

Have a problem with your fishing reel that isn’t listed here today? Sometimes, you can fix a variety of problems by simply doing a deep cleaning on your fishing reel. Before you give up on fixing your reel at home, try cleaning it to see if that makes any difference in its performance.

First, you’ll need to learn how to disassemble your reel. As mentioned, the best way to do this is to look up a specific tutorial online for your specific reel.

As you take it apart, look carefully at each part and look for anything that seems to be broken or worn out. Additionally, keep the parts in order so that you can reassemble it later.

Next, get some mild detergent, fresh water, and a toothbrush. Carefully clean each part of the reel, removing all built up oil, sand, and other debris. Use a soft cloth to wipe everything down, and then let all the pieces air dry.

Once dried, use a light lubricant to relubricate all of the moving parts in the reel. The oil prevents water from causing damage to the reel and keeps things moving smoothly. Once oiled, reassemble the parts. 

Give your reel a try and see if the deep cleaning session fixed your problem! If you found any broken or worn parts along the way, look into getting a replacement part to fix your reel problems.

Reel Problems: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Into It!

To those fishers who are new to taking care of their own fishing gear: don’t be afraid! While it can be intimidating to think about learning how to fix a fishing reel when you have a problem with your reel’s performance, doing your own fixes is a great way to learn how your reel works.

When you have gained a deeper understanding of how the reel works, you can address performance and maintenance issues quickly and easily in the future. And that will give you more time to do what you love to do: fish!

If you cannot figure out what the problem with a reel is on your own, don’t simply give up on the reel. Take it to a local fishing store or outdoors shop and ask if there is anyone available to do a check on it.

Often, the experts at the shop can point out the problem to you so that you can fix it on your own. If the problem is more complex, they can do the fix for you.

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