How to Fix a Fishing Reel: A Step-By-Step Guide

A fishing reel is a tiny winch that is mounted on a fishing rod to retract a fishing line. The main types of fishing reels include; bait-casting reel, open face spinning reel, closed-face spinning reel, and fly reels, among others. Fishermen know which one to use and when.

How to Fix a Fishing Reel

What can cause a fishing reel not to work?

To preserve your fishing reel, it should be cleaned and lubricated frequently.  However, parts may break or wear out. The spool may also loosen due to a fly reel fatigue on the spring.   The springs and bait casting reel drag washers can wear or tear. Spring and pawl mechanism may break or wear out.

Also read: How Do Fishing Nets Work? A Detailed Explanation

How to identify a problem in a fishing reel

  • If a fly fishing reel is not properly working, the broken spool can be replaced.
  • You can also replace a broken bail of an open face spinning reel with a new one.
  • Replacing the bail springs of an open-face spinning reel if they fail to make the bail catch the line properly.
  • Replacing the springs and drag washers if the bait casting fishing reel s not functioning properly.

What is needed when fixing a fishing reel?

Spare parts of fishing reels are readily available at fishing stores, sporting goods stores and from manufacturers.The materials required for repairing a fishing reel include:

  • Wrenches
  • Tweezers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Clean cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Lubricants
  • Water

Materials needed

The best way to get any job done is to first ensure that you have the right tools for the job. The same case applies to when fixing a fishing reel. And the following are some of the key tools you’ll need in this case.


You will use them when for loosening up the nuts.  You may use available wrench so as long it matches the size of the nuts.


This equipment is used to grab and take care of smaller parts, such as reel springs and wire clips. Additionally, it helps in fixings them correction to prevent them from flying around. Any tweezers may be used when cleaning the reel.

Screw drivers

The most commonly used types are flat head screwdrivers and Phillips. You’re required to check materials used by the manufacturers’ fishing reel. Thereafter, you can select the screw drivers to use in assembling and disassembling your fishing tackle.It advisable to have a variety of screw drivers as manufacturers may use different sizes too.

Clean cloth

Cotton or any other soft and absorbent fabric can be used. It helps in eliminating excess water before applying the lubricant. This material tends to be overlooked in the instructions. It is essential to use this material. When lubricant or oil mixes with water, it destroys the reel’s performance.


This material is used to wipe hard-to-reach parts of the fishing reel.It also removes stubborn grime.

Cotton swabs

These tools are useful when cleaning the tight parts of the reel and applying grease.


These items are readily available in the market. The products aids in removing contaminated grease.


It is used to rinse off salt debris your reel gets after fishing. Water helps in removing dirt and grime on the inner parts.

Simple Step by step procedure of fixing the fishing reel

So, what steps do you need to follow during the fixing process? Here now are the details you need to keep in mind.

Disassemble the reel

This part may be scary. Different types of reels have different parts. You should consult the manufacturer’s manual, especially if it’s your first time doing this. Most fishing reels have spool, drag and reel handle. You may forget where some items came from while disassembling the reel.

To avoid this, you may arrange the reel’s part from the first removed components to the last. Lay the parts on a mat or floor. Arrange the components in a line. This tip makes it easy to arrange the materials back again.

Mark each disassembled part

Below the materials, put a masking tape. Number each masking tape according to the material you took out first to the last. Be very careful with the screw.

They might be small items that may cause problems when you forget their original positions. They have different sizes. Therefore, they may confuse you after unscrewing each piece. You can number them also.

Know the parts that wear out, and then replace them

After dissembling the parts, you will notice which ones are making your reel not to work. Most fishing reels nowadays have good and durable components.  Most parts that need replacement are plastic parts.  Start with plastic pinion yokes, brake shoe, and clutch.

 The next things you should check are line guide and dry washers. If you are a frequent fisher, you should consider having stock of these materials. This is because you never know when your fishing reel may have a problem.  The rest of the materials are pure metals and do not easily wear out.

Apply grease

Grease should be applied under the teeth of the gears. Applying grease on the top causes it to scatter. It is better to use a cleaner or a light fluid when applying grease. Spin them in order to ascertain their cleanliness.

Do not forget to use a cloth when cleaning the inner parts of the reel before applying the lubricant. This prevents the grease and any excess water from mixing.

Warning: Avoid prolonged contact with these products. Use them in a place with proper ventilation far from flammable substances.

Assemble the parts 

To successfully reassemble the parts, you may refer to the steps. Follow the number’s sequence as indicated on the masking tape discussed in the first step. Make sure you use the correct tool when handling each component if the reel.

Use a wedge to loosen up nuts and tweezers to handle wire clip and springs. To avoid difficulties in putting back screws, use impact drivers.

Change the leader

After removing the worn and old lines from the reel, replace it with a new one of the same amount. The line should pass through the eyes of the rod’s guide. Always remember to include your guide. 

Attach the new line after opening the reel’s bail. Afterward, close the bail. Lay down the spoon then spin the bail. Do not overfill or under-fill. The final step involves loading the reel.

How to maintain and take care of your reels

  • Reels require extra care because their working parts can corrode or rust. The following are some ways of maintaining your fishing reel.
  • Replace the bearing frequently. Worn out bearings degrade the reel’s effectiveness. Replace them with high-quality races.
  • Regularly clean and flatten the metal drag washers. Wipe the non-metal washers with a cloth that is moistened insolvent. For larger reels, replace old washers with carbon washers.
  • Protect one-way bearings from oil because they perform best when dry. You can clean them with a solvent. If the part doesn’t work properly after a good clean, replace it.
  • Drive gears require a lube considering their high use. It is good to coat seals with grease and apply it on worn drive surfaces and the shaft.
  • Remember never to put metal against metal when handling your reel.  Reel parts are made metal to fiber.


We hope that the detailed steps above will help you make some meaningful progress in fixing your fishing reel. And that way, you’re likely to get more value for your money because reels don’t come cheap. All the best!

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