Saturday, March 9, 2013

How to Keep Busy in the Off Season Part 3: Reel Maintenance and Storage

Well, this off season is moving along pretty fast so I though I better get this last one in prior to the ice melting and spring season kicking off. In part 1 we reviewed keeping your tackle organized and prepped for the new season, part 2 we discussed proper rod storage, so what does that leave? Reel maintenance and storage, and other then your boat your reels need more work then most other items in your arsenal.. here's how to make sure you have them ready for the up coming season

Strip'em Down

I think that this article more then the other two will really have reader butting heads, there are many schools of thought when it comes to the proper storage of reels, and all i can really do is share with you mine.. you don't like, that's cool, Ill try not to be offended.

the first step in the process for me is "strip'em down" and what that means is removing whatever line is left on your reel from the end of the season. Hopefully all you have left on there is the scraps from the end of the season and not an entirely full spool. Either way, as you all know line ages, and not well, so if you have a full or partial spool of mono or flouro there is a good chance that line is going to be a coily mess come the start of the next season, so do your self a favour and get rid of it now, because there is a good chance that if you wait, you are going to get lazy and convince yourself that "it's still good"

The same philosophy goes for braided line, but it is not as urgent as it is with higher memory lines, so if you just re-spooled prior to the end of the season, I say leave it be. Braid ages worse on the water then in storage, but it will still age. The wear on braided line is pretty visible, so if you  got some use out of it prior to the end of the season so take the time to pull it off and start fresh when the time comes.

Inspection and Oiling

Ok, Im going to do my best to keep this simple, with the various types of reels and then the difference between each brand there is no way I can cover the entire spectrum, but what I can do is tell you how to complete a check of your reels condition as well as some low level maintenance to keep it running like new.

Spinning Reels:

The quick and easy process is as follows, remove all the line from your reel and do a "Q-tip" test. This is done by running a Q-tip along the spool lip and bail arm (the areas the line is most likely to run against when casting) and then again along the line roller system (the area your line places the most pressure on a retrieve) If you find any catches or ruff spots.. stop what your doing as this reel may need more loving then a cloth and some oil will ever give it.

If your reel passes the Q-Tip test it is time for some oil. To keep your reel running smooth there are 3 or 4 key areas you will want to oil up. I usually start with the bail itself by placing a drop of oil between the metal frame and the bail arm (both sides). Open the bail place a drop of oil, then open and close the bail a few times to work the oil down inside. I then move on to the line roller, and place a single drop of oil on the roller, at times I will use a Q-Tip to work it in and remove access oil. Next remove the reel handle to get access to the gear bearings, they should be clearly visible once the reel handle was been removed, so again just give it a drop or two. Lastly if your reel has a maintenance port, open it up and give it 2 or 3 drops of oil... quick and painless

Tip: A little goes a long way, I know that small drop of oil does not look like much but it will do the trick, over oiling is not helpful!

Baitcasting Reel:

cleaning or oiling your bait casters can be a more daunting task for many anglers as it requires you to take your baby apart and really get into the inner workings. Again I will keep it simple and focus on the key areas to clean and oil up.

Most reels have a simple turn key system on the opposite side from the handle. Turn the Key and open'er up. Once inside you will want to slide the spool out to get access to all the reels innards.

I like to give my reel a slight cleaning prior to re-oiling, this means simply applying some  warm soapy water to a Q-Tip and wiping down each area prior to re-oiling. The oil itself will be applied to 3 key areas, starting with the area/gear in which the spool slides in and attaches to reels handle all so called a spindle. I then move on and place a drop or two of oil on the level wind bar.. give the handle a few cranks the the level-wind moves and works the oil in. lastly I apply some oil to the spool itself (yes along the shaft, and I know there is a joke in there somewhere). I do this just before sliding the spool back into the reel cavity. Once the side plate is locked back on, give'er a few cranks and see the difference, your TLC has made

Tip: Give Quatum Hot Sauce oil and grease a try, I cant say I'm a huge Quantum reel fan, but they sure as hell make some killer lubricants. For cleaning products soap and water will work, but Ardent makes a cleaning spray and gets into the areas you need it to go and is fairly reasonably priced

What No Grease?

I know your reading this and thinking that i missed a pretty big step in overall reel maintenance, and your right, but just know that I missed it intentionally, and not as an oversight. The greasing of reels can be considered an advanced step in this process and not one that many anglers are comfortable doing.. seeing the parts of your best reel spread out on a table can be frightening. So if you plan to take apart your reel to grease it, be sure you can put it back together.. if you can't.. consult help. Not only are there hundreds of videos on-line walking you though this process but many major areas have shops and or places you can send reels to get this done.. make no mistake cleaning and re-greasing your reel will improve it's life span, old grease gets loaded with dirt and starts to bind up.

Pack'em away

Now that your reels are cleaned and oiled , it's time to store'em. Like with storing rods there are a few things to consider when storing reels. First things first, I take a moment to loosen back the drag and spool tensioner. I'm a firm believer that relieving any undue stress on the reel while in storage will lengthen the life of the reel. It also helps ensure and internal great or parts do not bind up on you.

When it comes to actually storing the reel, I again try to keep it in an area that will not be effected by dramatic weather changes. Keeping the reel out of "freezing" temps is better for the life of the grease, as most ice fisherman can attest not all greases are created equal, and some will bind up in colder temps.

If you treat your reels with respect they will return the favor and live a long and healthy life. But just like your car they do need the occasional tune-up and will benefit from proper winter storage.

No comments:

Post a Comment