Today’s fishing reels are built to last you a long time, however simple cleaning and maintenance can extend the life and functionality if performed regularly. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a complete tear down to get to the basic components that need lubrication and cleaning. Most reels come with an exploded parts diagram to aid in disassembly and reassembly of the reel. Some manuals even show basic lube ports where oil or grease can be applied. Here is a handy site for schematics and parts if you can’t locate a manual. https://www.mikesreelrepair.com/
Of course, there are a ton of YouTube videos that give some training also. A helpful tip is to layout a couple of paper towels in a row and as you disassemble lay everything in an organized fashion in the sequence it was removed. Also taking a photo with your cell phone of the components before and during the tear down will help. Pay close attention to washers and springs to ensure that they go back in the correct sequence and correct sides position because they may look similar but may have an effect on performance.
In general, clean the outside parts with soapy water and gently rub down exterior parts with a cloth. An old toothbrush makes an excellent cleaning tool for scrubbing small parts and hard to reach places. After the outside is complete and dry begin to isolate how much disassembly is required to get to the essential parts that need some care. Some items to have handy are, a couple toothpicks, as well as Q-tips, a small clean rag and reel grease. Some swear that WD40 and the likes are degreasers and should not be used as a primary lubricant.
Most spinning reels are constructed pretty much the same way, so the procedure and interior mechanism is basically the same.
Loosen the drag cap on the spool by turning counterclockwise until the cap and spool has been removed. Clean any exposed parts of grime and old grease that is visible. A small drop or two of oil where the shaft goes into the frame may be applied. Replace spool and cap.
Working over a clean towel, next remove the handle. Then, remove the screws that hold the body cover onto the body of the reel, being sure to put them back in the same order if they're at all different from one another. Check the condition of the grease in the gears. If it's black and dirty, take a Q-tip and remove as much of it as you can by wiping it off. Sometimes grit gets in the gears and that can really impair the reel's performance and shorten its working life.
Under normal fishing conditions, all you'll really have to do is add a little new grease to the gears. This can be done by applying a ball of grease on the end of a toothpick and distributing on gears and bearings.
Baitcasting reels require a little more attention because depending on the reel can be quite complicated. But generally, remove the side plates paying close attention to any bushings washers etc that may come lose with the plates. Remove the spool and check for any grime or dirt on gears, shafts and thumb bar clutch springs. Gently brush away with an old toothbrush debris found. When everything is cleaned apply any quality reel oil to bearings and shafts and springs. A marine reel grease should be applied to gears and worm drive. Reassemble reversing the order reel was taken apart.
That's all for today's tips! Be sure to check back each Tuesday for new tips from our expert staff and pro staff around the country.