All anglers want their spinning reels to perform flawlessly each time they hit the water. The drag should sing out smoothly when that bull red or monster striper hits. The bail should close effortlessly after every cast. And the bearings should roll smooth as silk with every turn of the crank.
But like any mechanical item, keeping a reel in tiptop shape requires regular maintenance. Especially with spinning reels, dirt and grime can work their way into the reel and interfere with its moving parts.
Fortunately, with a little bit of know-how and effort, you can keep your reels operating at their peak. In this video, Mercury Pro Team member Korey Sprengel, a professional walleye angler and member of The Next Bite crew, takes us through short-term spinning reel maintenance and also dives deeper into annual maintenance tasks.
Reel maintenance begins with a comprehensive cleaning at least a few times a season. As you see in the video, Sprengel prefers using water and a clean cloth, plus a small brush to get into the cracks and crevices. The key element here is to remove any dust and oil residue that might gather on the reel before it has a chance to work its way inside.
At least once a year your reel will need to be cleaned from the inside out, and internally lubricated as well. Note that Sprengel doesn’t just add grease. He degreases and then re-lubricates the internal components.
Another important detail that many anglers aren’t aware of is the use of small plastic washers to adjust the travel and timing of the spool in relation to the reel’s body. If you bought a quality spinning reel these washers probably came in the box with it, in a small plastic bag. After a season or two of use you might notice that the line doesn’t lie as evenly on the spool as it did when the reel was new. The solution is to add one or two of these washers to the main shaft before installing the spool. Sprengel points out that this is the result of normal use as the reel gets broken in and is nothing to worry about.
If you follow all of Sprengel’s tips, you can help extend the life of your spinning reels and enjoy smooth, reliable performance season after season.
Saltwater anglers might also want to check out our How to Clean Fishing Reels blog, which goes into detail about post-fishing washdowns. Especially after use in the brine, this is another critical reel maintenance chore that you’ll want to complete.