Reel Repair and Maintenance

For a fisherman, there can be few nightmares worse than arriving at your fishing spot and discovering that your favorite reel desperately needs repair or maintenance. Even though reel repair and maintenance is better left to the experts, you can do it yourself if you are willing to take the risk. Remember: this type of work requires caution and care, and should only be undertaken by someone who understands the working of the reel!

Getting Started

How the project is begun is one of the most critical steps to any job that requires care, so you should prepare accordingly. Set aside a workspace that is suitable for the job, and make sure you leave plenty of elbowroom. Make sure that there is space for all of the delicate reel parts. It’s smart to add a detailed photo of the reel piece-by-piece so that it can be put back together after the maintenance/repair is complete, or utilize a hand-drawn diagram.

Disassembling The Reel

Most reels come apart the same way, since they are built in a similar fashion (for the most part, some reels may vary slightly). This step is the most important time to photograph or draw each piece as it comes off, so that you can guarantee that you will be able to put the reel back together. Carefully remove each piece and place them in some kind of order (i.e. order removed). Be sure to take special care with very small pieces, such as screws, springs, and similar objects. Every piece has an important function, and each has a particular place in your reel.

Tools of The Trade

Repair and maintenance tools are some of the fundamental elements to the success of the project. Before starting the project, make sure that you have what you need, so that you do not have to go hunting for something in the middle of the project. Necessary tools usually include (but are not limited to) screwdrivers in various sizes (Philips and flathead), pliers, ratchets (including heads), clean and absorbent rags, reel grease and reel oil. You will also need a small brush, such as a clean toothbrush. Make sure that the reel grease and reel oil are in closed containers to prevent messy spills.

The Disassembly

Your first step is to take the reel apart bit by bit, taking great caution with every section, to reduce the possibility of misplacing or damaging vital parts. Find the nut that attaches the reel handle and remove it. Rotate the drag star counterclockwise and put it aside. Remove the side plate, making sure to notate the position of the four screws holding it on. Disconnect the main gear assembly. Detach the spool from your reel case. Use your clean cloth to get rid of sand, dirt, and/or old grease. Grease the mechanism in its entirety. If your reel has a worm gear, revolve the level wind (in the left plate) to ensure that this gear is greased correctly. Use a very tiny amount of reel grease to lubricate all teeth. Cleanse the spool. Lubricate the endpins. Finally, you should replace the spool within the end case.

Main Drive Gear Assembly

Cleaning the main drive gear assembly is one of the most critical aspects of the cleaning and maintenance routine, and failure to exercise proper caution could result in your reel not working properly later. Follow each step carefully and pay close attention to details. Carefully remove the screws attaching the main drive gear assembly. Some will be screwed into a mounting plate, but others will be able to be lifted out. Locate the main gear assembly. Use your rag to remove sand, dirt, and old grease, making sure there is no trace of the residue remaining to ensure smooth function later. Grease the gear assembly thoroughly.


Due to the number of very small parts involved with these steps, you must take special care to notate the location of each screw, washer, nut, and bearing. In order for the reel to function, each must be put back in the place they came from. Diagrams or photographs are absolutely fundamental to the success of your delicate reel cleaning/maintenance project.

Cleansing Washers/Bearings

The main gear will have washers in the top. After removing them, you should first notate the placement of each. Clean each washer with your clean rag. Grease, making sure to massage the clean grease gently into every washer. Remove excess grease with a clean cloth. After the washers are dry, you can then replace them in the proper order.

Seized bearings can be a major problem for some reels, so you need to be sure to thoroughly grease each bearing along all sides or replace the bearing. Do not attempt to take the bearing apart, or you will wind up cleaning up BBs from your workspace!

Reassembling The Reel

Place the spool back inside the reel casing to begin to reassemble your reel. Position the right side plate and gear assembly over the endpin. Line up the screw holes, making sure each side is aligned properly. Screw in each screw into the side plate. Next, you should screw the drag star back on. Finally, you can mount the reel’s handle. You are almost done!

Using your photos or map, confirm that each piece is back where it initially came from. Check your work by making sure the reel is well secured.


Though the process is monotonous and slow, you have the ability to execute these simple maintenance steps and save money. Nevertheless, a calm hand is required, and you may discover that either a magnifying lens or excellent eyesight is very advantageous.

No matter what kind of reel you are operating (conventional or bait-casting), these straightforward steps can help you steer clear of waiting for and paying a professional to keep your reel operating efficiently. Since you are probably one of the many fishermen who are finicky about who handles their reels, simply utilizing methods such as these can help put a stop to mistakes and/or repair costs. Keep your reel safe and clean, and you will nearly promise long life and many fishing memories.

There are many types of reels out on the market today one of the most popular brands is Daiwa Fishing Reel, some of their most popular models are Daiwa BG90 and Saltiga 30T.

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