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Keeping it Reel (clean)
Anglers are known to tinker with their gear, either by tweaking a bend in a hook or add some flash to a dodger amongst other things that we do to catch more fish. It is these little tricks and how we take care of our gear that helps us pass the time when we are not out fishing. One friend often spends hours each weekend working on his boat, either fixing something or cleaning something, another ties leaders and makes Slinkies; it is who we are and what we like to do. But when it comes to our reels most don’t give it much thought. But this is the one piece of equipment that we should pay most attention to, after all it allows us to catch the fish we seek.
Reel maintenance can be simple or complex depending on how often you do it and to what level of repair it might need. Starting with the end of the day of fishing it is best to rinse off the reel in fresh tap water once you get home. This is because reels are exposed to many things that can affect its function, such as egg goop, baits, oils, dirt, salt water, and even our own sweat. If you put the reel away without rinsing it then the smells and odors can get on your hands and transfer them to the bait or lure.
Every few trips it is best to take off the handle and apply a small amount of grease or silicone lubricant after you wash the threaded post to get any dirt off of it as this can cause the reel to stick. Then take off the drag plate, or for a spinning reel the spool and inspect the inner workings of the reel. A can of compressed air, like you use to clean off a keyboard of a computer, blows any debris out as well as dry the inside of the reel. Then re-lubricate it again and re-assemble.
At the end of the season—or between seasons—it is best to do an overhaul of the entire reel. If you don’t have the diagram and directions on how to disassemble the reel then look it up on the manufacturers website or search for some “how to” videos. Completely disassemble the reel and replace any worn drag washers (most reels come with extras or you can find them at tackle stores that offer reel maintenance). Clean all of the parts and then lubricate them. After you’re finished cleaning the reel take off the old line and replace it with new. Keeping your reel clean will allow it to work as it is designed and save you time and money and most of all help you land that fish.