Spinning Reel Repair & Maintenanceby Capt. Terry Rand
Spinning reel repairs and maintenance are generally best left to the professionals. An assortment of necessary tools, oil, reel grease and some mechanical know-how are required to be successful in completing the needed maintenance. But, there may be times when you just can’t wait for someone else to fix your reel. You may find yourself in a far away location (like on a Fly-in Canadian fishing trip) and you just have to get that reel working again right away. The following information will give you some guidance and confidence in cracking open that pesky reel and getting her back into fish-catching condition. This information will also aid the beginner in learning the ins and outs of spinning reel repair. Most spinning reels work on the same basic gear drive design. There may be some parts variations on some reel models that are not mentioned in these procedures. But, they mostly all work in the same general fashion.
Important Note: When performing reel maintenance it is very important to have the reel’s parts schematic by your side for reference during the procedure. Also, it is extremely beneficial to use a digital camera to take close up pictures of the reel parts BEFORE you start removing parts. These pictures will aid you in putting the reel back together properly. Also, remove parts very slowly and carefully as many spinning reels will contain very small parts including springs that may easily be dropped on the floor, never to be found again. Provide yourself with a large, clean work surface.
- Reel grease
- Reel oil
- Assortment of Philips head and flat head screwdrivers
- Ratchet and assorted heads
- Clean rags
- Small brush (a small tooth brush works well)
1) Remove the reel handle. Unscrew the drag cap and remove the spool.
2) Remove the screws from the reel’s side plate. Most times it is the plate on the left side of the reel and it is usually held on with four screws. Carefully remove the side plate.
3) You will now be looking at the inner workings of the reel gears and spool shaft mechanism. The large circular gear facing you should now be carefully lifted straight out of the gear box. Set it aside.
4) You will now be able to see the entire spool shaft. Inside the gear box, the end of the spool shaft is connected to the crosswind block with one or two small screws. Remove these small screws and set aside. You should now be able to pull the spool shaft out of the reel by pulling it firmly from the end. Also, remove the crosswind block and set it aside.
5) When you removed the crosswind block you revealed another gear that the crosswind block was sitting on top of. You can lift out this gear and set it aside.
6) The gear box will now be essentially empty of loose parts. Wipe out the old grease with a clean rag. You may also find one or two circular bearings inside the housing. Remove them if they come out easily and set them aside. We’ll come back to greasing and reassembling the gear box later.
7) Now you need to remove the rotor to reveal the anti-reverse mechanism. On the top of the rotor, where the spool normally sits, you should see a large nut holding the rotor on to the spindle gear. Use an adjustable wrench or a ratchet and driver to remove the nut from the rotor. Pull the rotor off and set aside.
8) You have now revealed the anti-reverse mechanism. This mechanism is designed differently in different models. It usually consists of a rocker arm that is attached to the reel at a pivot point. The rocker arm is then controlled by the Anti Reverse Switch on the backside of the reel. Some of these rocker arms will also have a small spring attached to them. Study your schematics and the Anti Reverse mechanism to gain an understanding of how it operates. Wipe off any old grease, dirt and sand and lightly grease or oil the mechanism.
NOTE: A small amount of oil or grease goes a long way. You essentially only need to a thin film to lubricate your reel parts.