How to Clean and Maintain a Spinning Reel

How to clean and maintain a spinning reel

Cleaning your spinning reel is an essential part of keeping it up and running.

If you don’t regularly clean and lubricate your reel, it will gradually lose its functionality.

And if you think taking care of a spinning reel is a tough task, we have all the tips and tricks you need to do it as easily and effectively as possible.

There are two types of cleaning and maintenance. The one that is quick and can be frequent, and the one that takes time and is done from time to time.

Spinning Reel Maintenance & Cleaning: Outside 

Step 1: Organize Your Tools

Gather all the supplies and tools you’ll need and keep them organized to start taking apart your reel.

There are many parts on a spinning reel, and a lot of them are small and can be lost easily.

A helpful trick is to lay a mat or a towel over the area in which you’ll work.

Then, you should stick long pieces of tape that are labeled with numbers that go in the order you took apart your reel. This way, you’ll know how to put it back together step-by-step.

Step 2: Take Your Reel Apart

Make sure to start with a clean reel, so maybe follow the quick routine mentioned above if your reel isn’t clean.

Take your time exploring the parts, how they can be unscrewed, and number them somehow to be able to build your reel back together.

A very important step to take before removing the spool is securing your fishing line. Otherwise, you’ll be faced with a nightmare of tangled lines.

You can use a piece of masking tape to stick the line on the spool or you can completely remove it and store it somewhere until the cleaning is done.

On top of that, you can user tweezers to pick up the smaller parts.

Step 3: Thorough Cleaning

Using a toothbrush can help you clean every part thoroughly and reach tougher parts.

Make sure that you remove all the residue on the parts and don’t rush the process.

Step 4: Greasing the Gears

After you’ve cleaned the parts of the reel, use a toothpick to apply a light coating of grease to the gears inside the reel.

Make sure you apply the grease to the lower set of gear teeth only.

Applying grease to the upper set of gear teeth would probably result in that grease being spread to other parts of your reel.

Step 5: Oiling the Bearings

The bearings on the reel are what make it crank smoothly and seamlessly.

You can either get a specialty bearing cleaning solution or use a basic lighter fluid.

After applying your choice of solution, scrub the bearings with a brush and spin them to test how clean and smooth they are.

As long as they don’t spin, keep brushing.

After you’re done with cleaning the bearings, use a toothpick to add bearing oil.

Step 6: Reassemble the Reel

After you’ve cleaned and lubricated everything, it’s time to put it back together.

If you mix the parts’ order up, you can use the help of the explosion diagram included with your reel.

Spinning Reel Maintenance & Cleaning: Inside

You should make this a routine after every fishing trip to ensure that your reel stays working properly for as long as possible.

1. Loosen the drag completely and remove your spinning reel from the rod.

2. Wipe off the dirt and grime with a soft cloth that’s moistened by freshwater.

When you run water on the built-up dirt and sand, it can help remove these residues.
Make sure that you use a sink instead of a hose as high water pressure might actually push the dirt deeper inside the reel.

3. Dry your reel thoroughly with a dry piece of cloth.

4. Spray your reel with WD-40 or something like it from time to time to keep the water and grit off of your gear. Be careful not to get any of the solvents on the line, however.

5. After you’re done, attach your gear again.

Final Thoughts

While the cleaning procedures may seem like a tedious task, they’re very important in keeping your reel smooth and efficient.

Moreover, thorough cleaning once a year will extend the durability of your reel for a considerable amount of time.

And finally, nothing works better than a kempt reel.

How Does Spinning Reels Work

How a Spinning Reel Work

The spinning reel is probably the most popular choice of reel for bait fishing among recreational anglers. Due to it being very easy to use and also being efficient most recreational anglers at some point use this type of reel.

 

The spinning reel got its name because of the rotating bail wires and bail arms that go around the spool.

 

A spinning reel is made up of 8 main parts: the foot, the handle, the body, the anti-reverse switch, the bail, the spool release, the line spool, the drag adjustment, and the line roller.

 

Each of them is an important part that performs a certain function. And if you want to have an in-depth background regarding the job of each part, here’s an overview.

 

·      The Basic Mechanism

A spool is a cylindrical object where the line is wounded around to allow the line to be cast and retrieved.

 

The spool itself does not spin around but it moves up and down along the reel to allow the line to be rewind back on itself evenly.

 

This allows the line to spool from bottom to top and from top to bottom so it doesn’t bunch up and down.

 

If the spinning reel lacked this feature the line would bunch up in the top, bottom or at the middle of the spool. Those bunches can build up to a point where it would make it very hard for the rotor arm and the bail wire to circle around the spool.

 

 

·      The Bail Arm

A very obvious component of the spinning reel is the bail arm. It is a wire contraption that is bent across the top of the spool.

 

Its function is to help manage the line. When the bail is in a closed position the line does not pull and you can retrieve it.

 

If you want to cast the line you hold the line near the fishing rod itself by one finger, and flip the bail arm in the other direction allowing for the line to be cast.

 

You then jerk the fishing rod in the direction you want the line to go and release your finger from over the line and watch the line fly towards the water.

 

Then when you want to retrieve the line or stop it at a certain point you either flip the bail arm to a closed position or just crank the handle to retrieve the line and the automatic bail closure will flip the bail for you.

 

·      The Reel’s Foot

Another distinct feature of the spinning wheel is a handle-like object designed like a long neck which is called reel foot.

 

The reason it is designed like a long neck is because it hangs underneath the fishing rod connecting both the rod and the reel together, allowing enough space for the bail to spin while casting or retrieving your line in a way that doesn’t interfere with your fingers or the fishing rod itself.

 

Likewise for the handle found on the side of the reel, designed to be long enough to leave adequate room between the spinning reel and your hands.

 

·      User-friendly

One of the features of the spinning reel that it’s both right and left-handed friendly.

 

Since you can unscrew the handle from the right side by removing the screw on the left side and attaching the handle to the left side of the reel and put the screw on the right side.

 

Also, the screws on the handle can be helpful when storing the reel, since the handle is too long it might hook on stuff around, essentially damaging the handle.

 

You just loosen the screw on the reel until you feel the hinge loosening up, then press on the handle itself to fold it or stick it near the body of the spool and re-tighten the screw again.

 

·      The Anti-Reverse Switch

Another feature on the spinning reel is a button called the anti-reverse.

While it’s on the on position you can only crank your handle in one direction, either to cast your line or retrieve it and the mode of switching directions is just by flipping the bail arm from one direction to the other.

 

When you switch the anti-reverse button to the off position you can crank your handle in both directions to cast or retrieve.

 

The anti-reverse button is more friendly to beginners since disabling it shuts of the gearing system in the reel, basically putting the reel on manual mode.

 

This means that when you cast your line and it’s pulled it would keep going until you start retrieving. So inexperienced users may lose line if it’s pulled and they are unaware.

 

·      The Drag System

Drag systems exist on the cap of the spool (called front drag system) or on the rear of the spinning real (called rear drag system). Drag systems add tension to the line as it's being pulled off the reel. 

 

Adding drag makes it harder to pull off the reel,  and vice versa.

 

Whether the front or rear drag system is better is a matter of personal preference. Where some see the rear drag system easier to use, Others see that the front drag system is more spontaneous.

 

 

How to Choose a Spinning Reel

How to Pick a Spinning Reel

Good performance requires that you own reliable equipment, and that’s why despite how talented an experienced you are at fishing, you need a good spinning reel.

A spinning reel is comprised of 8 parts: the body, the anti-reverse switch, the foot, the handle, the line spool, the spool release, the bail, the line roller, and the drag adjustment.

Each of these parts performs a job and is related to a certain feature. Let’s check these features out and find out what you should look for when you’re trying to choose a spinning reel.

1. The Size of the Reel

You should match the size of the reel you pick to the size of the fish you intend to catch.

This also related to the size of the fishing line you’ll use, and the lighter the line, the smaller the reel should be.

So if the average line strength you need is 8 pounds, go for a medium-sized reel that’s rated for 6,8, and 10 pounds.

If a reel states a “6 LB/ 90 YDS” rating, then that would be the average. This line is suited for lines weighing between 4 and 8 pounds.

The 3 sizes you’ll find are:

  • Small-Sized Reels

These ones range from 1000 (10) to 3500 (35). They can handle mono lines ranging between 2 to 10 pounds and braid lines ranging between 4 to 14 pounds.

You can use them to catch smaller fish like bass, flathead, and bream. They’re also more suitable for light fishing in rivers, harbors, and lakes.

  • Medium-Sized Reels

These range from 4000 (40) to 5500 (55). They can handle mono lines between 8 to 14 pounds and braid lines between 8 to 25 pounds.

They’re the best for lakes, light off-shore boat fishing, bays, and for catching fish like Morwong, Dummer, Snapper, Cod, Barramundi, Bone Fish, and Mulloway.

  • Large-Sized Reels

These range from 6000 (60) to 10,500. They can work with monolines from 12 pounds to over 44 pounds and braid lines from 12 pounds to over 50 pounds.

Large-sized reels are best suitable for rock fishing, beach fishing, and boat fishing.

You can use them to catch Samson, Mulloway, Kingfish, Australian Salmon, Tuna, and Trout.

2. The Body and Weight of the Reel

The body or the housing of the reel can be made of either graphite or aluminum. Sometimes it can be a combination of both.

Aluminum bodies are evidently stronger and don’t flex as much as graphite ones.

On the other hand, graphite bodies are much lighter, so it’s more suitable for an angler that spends an extended period of time.

Moreover, if you’re going to be fishing in freshwater, an aluminum body would suit you well.

However, saltwater requires a graphite reel as an aluminum one would be less prone to corrosion.

Double-check that your reel’s mechanical parts move smoothly with no back play and that it doesn’t have any loose parts.

3. The Reel’s Gear Ratio

A spinning reel has a fixed reel where the line is wrapped onto the spool with the help of the bail as you turn the handle.

The gear ratio indicates how many times the bail rotates around the spool with each turn of the handle.

For one turn of the handle, the bail on a reel with a 4:1 gear ratio would rotate 4 times around the spool.

A 4:1 would be considered a slow-speed reel as it doesn’t collect that much line with each crank.

This gives it the advantage of extra torque to handle bigger fish. That’s why a 6:1 high-speed gear would be better for medium to small-sized fish.

If you’ve don’t have the budget to buy multiple reels with different gear ratios, you can go for a medium-speed 5:1 gear ratio.

4. The Reel’s Drag System

The drag system on a spinning reel is one of the most important features. It’s the part responsible for applying pressure on a fish when it’s hooked as well as releasing the line during a fight against the catch.

It also has an impact on how often your line would break, so make sure you get a reel with a high-quality drag system and smooth performance.

Generally, there are 2 types of drag systems: a front drag and a rear one. They differ in their location and their styles. Front-drag systems come with multiple large drag washers to make your reel more durable and enhance its performance.

On the other hand, rear-drag controls make your fights easier as they’re more accessible. However, they’re not suitable for fighting larger or more stubborn fish.

5. The Ball Bearings of the Reel

The ball bearings or bushings are placed within the body of the reel to provide it with smoothness, support, and stability.

A rule of thumb is that the more bearings found on a reel, the smoother its performance will be. And generally, 4 is the minimum number.

Getting a reel with sealed stainless steel bearings is better for the extra durability and ability to fish in saltwater without it corroding.

When it comes to the ball bearings, you shouldn’t concern yourself with the budget as the smoothness will have a huge impact on your fishing experience.

6. The Spool of the Reel

The spools on the reel The reel’s spool has 3 important functions: controlling the casting distance, providing smoothness, and holding the line.

There are 2 types of spools: internal or skirted. Internal spools are a bit out-dated and they can get entangled within the body of the reel.

On the other hand, skirted spools work smoother and with less probability of entanglement.

Moreover, there’s a variation of the skirted spool known as “long cast” whose design makes it a lot more functional.

It’s longer and shallower, so it minimizes the friction of the line and enables you to cast for longer distances. You can go for a Mag spool to benefit from its long castability.

Mag spoils are wider and flatter than regular ones -a design that makes its casts longer and its retrieves faster.

On top of that, the design works on reducing lone twists and maximizing the line pickup with each handle crank.

7. The Reel’s Anti-Reverse Handle

The anti-reverse handles of the reel Anti-reverse handled are also an important aspect on a spinning reel as they work on preventing the handle from spinning backward.

This ensures that your hook sets are solid and precise. The larger the arms and knobs on a reel, the faster the handle would be and the firmer your grip on it would be.

Final Thoughts

Spinning reels are the most popular types of reels (compared to spin cast or baitcasting reels). Their open-faced design makes them more accurate and quite easy to use.

Moreover, their versatility allows you to add a good amount of line and some even come with an extra spool for easier line changes.

The only problem with them is that they can’t handle heavier weights of lines, so the fish you catch with them will probably be not that big.