Maintaining Your Tackle:
Fun or Frustration?
By Capt. Butch Rickey
I can still remember
my first spinning reels. They were an old Quick and a French made Centura.
They were given to me by an old couple who were friends of my parents when we
lived on Captiva Island. The reels were in bad need of repair. I,
about age 11, set out to make them work again. thus was born my love affair
with tackle in general, and tinkering with it in particular. As it turned
out, it was mostly a matter of removing sand and dirt, tightening loose parts,
and lubricating moving parts. That still holds true today.
you own tackle today can be lots of fun. But today's tackle is far advanced
from the tackle of the 40's and 50's that I cut my teeth on. Spinning reels
have line layering and wrapping systems on long-cast spools, velvet smooth and
sophisticated drag systems, free-line systems (Bait-Runners), infinite anti-reverse
systems, quick-fire bail systems, trigger bait/line release systems, inner-rotor
bails, and on and on. The baitcasters of today are as advance with features
like magnetic spool controls, variable braking systems, flipping switches, infinite
anti-reverse systems, line layers level-wind systems, and bearings and shims everywhere.
are much more susceptible to loss of performance (casting distance) from improper
lubrication and maintenance or marginal parts because the spool actually revolves
to feed line during the cast. When properly functioning they offer superior
drag systems, smoother operation, and superior casting distance with all but the
smallest baits. The laws of physics are responsible for longer casts, that
is, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. They also offer superior
casting control, in my opinion.
although refined to new heights recently by Shimano's Dyna-Balance System, and
twist reducing line roller, still have one bug-a-boo that's a function of design
-- they still twist line, and they always will. Casting distance is superior
with small baits like whitebaits or small artificials because there's no spool
inertia that has to be overcome as in the baitcaster. That advantage soon
disappears with increasing bait weights.
advantage of the spinner is casting into the wind. Even the best of us will
backlash a baitcaster into the wind occasionally. Of course, I've seen lots
of my clients have real problems casting down a serious breeze. The line
keeps peeling off the spool after the bait has hit the water. The resulting
first few wraps are stacked very loosely, and the whole mess like to jump off
the spool in one twisted lump on the next cast.
With the sophistication
of today's tackle has come an increase in the number of parts it takes to build
a reel, and a decrease in their size. Typically, there are a host of small
mechanical parts, bearings, springs, shims, shafts, etc, in a reel that can be
difficult to handle just because of their size. On first examination by
the inexperienced, the function of many of these parts is not immediately apparent
either. In fact, some of these systems are quite complicated, and best left
to the experts. Of course, even the experts sometimes have trouble remembering
the placement of parts, because they don't work on the same reels every day.
all this, repairing and maintaining you own tackle can be fun and give you a great
sense of accomplishment, as well as save you money. For a fishing guide
like myself, this is doubly true. Someone is always dropping tackle into
the water, banging it against the boat, or sitting or stepping on something.
Things get broken! If you're on the water a lot, learning to maintain and
repair you own tackle would serve you well. A word of caution, though.
If you're not mechanically inclined to begin with, you may wind up doing more
harm than good. If you are so inclined, and like to tinker, this is for
you are now still interested in doing your own thing, you will need to set up
a little shop. You work area can be as simple as your kitchen table or as
nice as you garage workbench. The main thing is that it's kept neat and
clean. I suggest the first thing you do before ever turning the first screw,
is lay down a large white towel or cloth of some kind. This will absorb
cleaners and oils, but more importantly, gives you a good contrasting surface
to lay parts on. Sometime small parts, particularly tiny springs, just disappear
before your very eyes. And the reel won't work without that part.
You also will
need a cleaning tank. It doesn't have to be large, you're only working on
reel parts. I use a cold sterilization tank from a dental office.
It's about 12 x 6 x 4 inches, and has a self-draining tray that lifts out of the
cleaning solution when you open the lid. This is just the first of
many dental tools I'll discuss that are perfect for tackle maintenance chorse.
So get to know your dentist, ask him or her if you can have some of the discards.
They'll still work for you.
As for cleaning
solutions, the best is plain ole' garden variety kerosene, which is readily available,
and cheap. I keep a large plastic container around from which I top off
or refill my cleaning tank. You also may want to have other solvents around
like CRC Marine Degreaser, but kerosene will cut all but the toughest stuff.
Be careful with the degreaser, as it will melt some plastics.
that will serve you well is a plastic egg storage container. Our refrigerator
had a two tier container which was not being used. I scarfed it for my reel
repair business. Those little egg cups are perfect for keeping parts separated
by the system it belongs to, thus avoiding confusion later. Sometimes small
screws, springs, and things that look alike at first glance, in fact, aren't.
of lubricants is very important. One of the most important elements of reel
performance is using the proper lubricants. You will need a gear lube like
Penn's Blue Grease or equivalent, drag grease, which is not the same as gear lube,
light oil for bearings and other lube points, and sometime, special lubricants
like Shimano's TBM Grease, and drag grease that is used on many, but not all drag
systems. A word of caution here. Not all reels use lubricated drag
systems. If you grease a dry system, you will render it ineffective, so
pay attention to this. Make sure you have a supply of the lubricants on
hand before you ever crack the reel open. Also make sure you've got plenty
of clean rags on hand. You'll need them.
Now, to the
tools. Throw away your crescent wrench and kitchen pliers. Those two
tools, in the wrong hands, can damage more parts than anything else I can think
of. Another tool that inflicts a great deal of damage is the screwdriver.
Too many people just don't pay attention, or don't realize that there is a proper
screwdriver for every job. If the tip of the screwdriver you're about to
unscrew that pretty gold plated screw on you Stradic with doesn't fit into the
secrehead like a glove, nice and snug, don't use it. Find the one that does.
If you don't, you're going to wind updamaging the screw. If it's a stubborn
screw, salt water aged and full of corrosion, you may wind up having to drill
it out. The lesson here is.....use the proper tool for the job.
already own will probably serve you well. All you need is a set of small
sockets, and small end wrenches. You'll also need a small file, a small
hammer, pliers, wire-bending pliers, magnifying glass, small flashlight,
inspection mirror, and tweezers.
Now it's time
to see your dentist. He can give (or sell) you an inspection mirror, fine
tweezers, hemostats, and a myriad of scraping, shaping, spreading, and tools designed
to do who knows what. They sure are great for working on reels. You'll
find something that's great for reaching into place you can't get you chubby little
fingers to place a part, hook a spring, or spread grease where you can't reach.
If he offers it, take it. You'll find some use for it. Also, don't
forget some fine steel wool and emery paper.
I use an antique
dental work stand with one drawer. The drawer is large enough to hold all
my tools and lubricants, except spray cans. On top I keep my cleaning tank,
egg container, and spray cans. On the bottom shelf, I keep clean rags.
It has roller feet, and easily goes where I want it, right next to my work surface.
When I sit down to do a reel, I have everything I need right at my fingertips.
down a spinning reel for a routine D and C. If it's a front drag model,
which are superior to rear drags, the first step is to remove the spool.
The drag system is in the spool. This should be your first area of attention
if it is anything less than silky smooth at all settings. Refer to hour
owners' manual for proper lubrication.
The next step
is usually to remove the handle. It's probably a folding one of some variety,
and removing it should be simple. Lay it and the related parts in the egg
container. To further disassemble many of today's spinners any further it
is first necessary to remove the rotor housing. This will allow access into
the reel body through the side plate. This is usually accomplished by first
removing a locking screw, then the rotor nut from over the spool shaft.
If your reel is a rear drag model, you may first have to open the side plate and
disconnect the spool shaft from the rest of the drag mechanism. Once the
spool shaft is removed, you can remove the rotor. Note: Some of the
newest reels have a left handed thread on the rotor nut.
Now, if you
haven't already done so, you can remove the side plate. You will now have
the internals revealed, and have access to the rotor bearing on most reels.
On many reels, you may have to remove the anti-reverse mechanism before you can
remote the rotor bearing for replacement or lubrication. Study it carefully.
Study the owners' manual exploded parts view carefully. When you feel confident
that you understand what everything does, proceed. Same for the insides.
Reel make, design, and features will dictate what you will find inside.
You may or may not encounter level-wind mechanism, anti-reverse mechanisms, free-spool
mechanisms, as well as the main gear drive and spool actuator mechanism.
If you're feeling a great deal of anxiety at this point, you may want to stop
here, and put Humpty Dumpty back together again for your reel service man.
If not, keep going. Just be patient and careful. Note the location
of shims, springs, and such. Make sure you understand where it goes and
what it does after you have it clean and ready for installation and lubing.
part carefully. If you're confident, you may want to put the whole ball
of wax in your tank and let it soak overnight. If not, you may want to wash
each part individually and return it to the egg container so you don't get things
mixed up. You may want to remove the kerosene film from some parts before
applying the prescribed lubricant. You can do this with spray degreaser.
Pay careful attention to the recommended lubricant in the owner's manual.
Don't put grease where oil belongs, and don't overdo it. Too much can be
as bad as too little.
You may find
sealed ball bearing, some requiring oil, some requiring grease. Greasing
sealed ball bearings often confounds people. There's a simple way to do
it, but it's messy. Put a blob of grease in the palm of your left hand.
Now take the bearing and press it into and drag it through the grease in your
hand. After a couple of times you should notice new grease coming out of
the sealed side of the bearing facing you. Ahead of it will usually be the
old grease remaining after you cleaned it. Just keep spudging the bearing
into your palm until you can see that only fresh grease is coming through.
It's ready to install. Of course, new grease is not a cure for a rough bearing.
If it's rough or noisy, replace it.
process should be the exact opposite of the take-down. Remember to pay close
attention to the order of things done. The last step is to spray the reel
with a good quality protectant. I recommend Corrosion Block. It's
expensive, but worth it.
test the reel. Check every feature on the reel to make sure it works properly.
You don't want to find out when you get on the water that your anti-reverse doesn't
work or that your drag is jerky. When you're finished, you should have a
reel that feels and works as good as new, sometimes better.
If all this
sounds like too much hassle, I'd be happy to service your reel for you.
I guarantee 24 hour turnaround on full take-down and service, not repairs.
Cost is $20.00 prepaid with shipment. On repair orders, turn around time
is dependent upon parts availability, or my creativity in some cases. You
may send your reels to:
Please add a
few bucks for return shipping.
- Capt. Butch
If you take
your reel down and can't get it back together properly, consider this story.
I have a good friend here in Sarasota who owns a copier repair business.
He amazes me with his ability to fix one of the most complicated devices ever
contrived by humanity....the copier. I mean, they're complicated.
He can often fix them without parts, using little tricks he's learned over the
years. But, to this day, he cannot take a rear-drag Shimano reel apart and
have it ever work properly again. For some reason the whole concept seems
to be beyond him. It just doesn't figure.
So, if it
happens to you, don't feel too bad!
Visit my Web Site:
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