I have mentioned in several of the other articles about catfishing reels that I am not a “reel nut” meaning that I am not caught up in having the smoothest, best casting and latest and greatest fishing reel. I am known to push my reels well beyond their normal limits of needing cleaning and repairs and keep using them.
I don’t suggest this because it will not add to the life of your baitcasting reel. I hate to clean fishing reels, mostly because I typically have a part go flying across the room in the breakdown or assembly, never to be found again. Then there was that one time that my beagle Georgia at an e-clip but that is another story for another day.
I can break a reel down and reassemble and complete all the necessary work, and one of these days I will see about putting together a tutorial (or getting someone else to) but this article is specific to basic baitcasting reel maintenance and oiling.
Completing some basic baitcasting reel maintenance will add to the life and make it operate much better in the long run, especially when you are between full breakdowns and cleanings.
I complete these steps usually several times a year, when I am spooling with fresh fishing line. I spool with fresh line much more often than that but I typically stop a few times a year and complete some basic maintenance and spool everything with fresh line, when the lake is turning over is usually one of the times I pick to do this.
Here are the basic steps for oiling and maintaining a baitcasting reel
First make sure that you have a good oil, preferably a light weight oil specifically made for fishing reels. I like to use Quantum Hot Sauce.
The first thing that you need to remember when doing this is that MORE IS NOT BETTER. Adding a bunch of excess oil will just muck everything up and make it work so you want to limit the oil to a minimum of one or two drops at the very most.
I like to work at a table in a well lit area and lay a clean towel down on the table to make it easier to work.
One of the biggest problems you will find when you start fishing with shad is that you will have shad scales all over everything. They get caked on everything and stick and are pretty tough to remove from a lot surfaces. I find that baby wipes do a pretty good job getting the initial layer of dirt and shad scales off the reela so I wipe everything down really well and get some of that initial gunk off the outside.
Once I complete this with the baby wipe I take a soft cotton rag and use some WD-40 to wipe down the rest of the exterior with a soft cotton rag and get all of the rest of the gunk and grime (and shad scales) off the outside. I then repeat the process with a baby wipe again. Once complete I give it a few really good sprays of Reel Magic and wipe it all down again with another clean towel or rag.
Now I move on to oiling the baitcasting reel.
Take the Quantum Hot Sauce and apply one drop of the oil to each end of the handle where the “knobs” meet the handle (see photo).
Remove the cover from the spool tensioner by unscrewing it. Be careful because there is a small ring inside of here that can easily be lost and is essential to the reels performance. Once the cover is removed apply a drop of oil and replace the cover by screwing it back on.
Now turn the reel over and check the worm drive gear. This is one of the more common parts to wear out and often occurs from excess dirt and grime being in the gear during use. If you have a lot of dirt and grime in this gear you will want do a full cleaning of the entire thing.
Apply two drops of oil to the worm drive gear.
The worm drive is one of the more common parts to wear out and is easily replaced and also inexpensive. You can tell when the worm drive is going bad because the line will start to spool incorrectly back on to the spool. Typically the line will start to “pile up” on one side of the spool and the line will no longer spool evenly.
Once you have completed all of the steps in applying the oil give your reel few good spins turning the handle slowly allowing the oil to penetrate. While doing this check to make sure that everything functions smoothly, again if not it may be time for a full cleaning.
Now, take a small screwdriver and double check all of the screws on the exterior of the reel. These have tendency to begin working their way loose over extended periods of use and assuring they are tightened correctly will prevent malfunctions or losing parts while fishing.
Here are some good basic indicators to let you know when you might need to perform a full cleaning on your baitcasting reel:
- It begins to make noises on casting or retrieve
- It does not operate as smoothly as it used to
- You feel something gritty in the reel when you are reeling or casting
- You are having any issues at all with it (the first thing I often notice is the spool release begins to stick or become more difficult)
- You have any problems at all with it
I have seen some other tutorials online for basic baitcasting reel maintenance and oiling that are a lot more involved than this. While they claim to be “basic” they are really more of a hybrid between a basic service and a full cleaning. These basic steps have always worked well for me and keep my catfish fishing reels functioning smoothly, and I have never had an issue with one of them wearing out prematurely.
What fishing reel maintenance steps do you perform on a regular basis? Tell us more in the comments below.
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