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Taking Care of you new Rod and Reel

“I bought my first rod and reel. How do I take care of it?”

Most people don’t actually ask this question but some simple basic knowledge isn’t a bad idea. In this age of “throw away” products, rods and especially reels have become just that. If it’s not a Penn or Shimano, reels are almost impossible to get parts for. Many of the repair centers won’t even work on a reel if it is not a major “name brand.” So with that in mind, let’s begin.

If you buy the bargain basement variety rod and reel combo, the first rule of thumb is to check the reel and make sure it works from the “get go” before leaving the store. Flip open the bail, crank it a few times and make sure the reel locks and it’s not continuously in “free spool.” (There’s a switch on the back or bottom of the reel called an anti-reverse switch that puts the reel into free spool or into a lock position. You want to fish with the reel in the “lock” position.) Look over the rod, and make sure all the rings are in the guide frames. If it is two-piece, check and see that it fits together properly.

Make sure the reel is seated in the reel seat and if it isn’t tight on the rod, take the rings of the reel seat and turn them until they are tight and the reel is snug. Make sure the reel seat isn’t bent. Most pre-mount rod and reel combos come with a plastic strap that attaches the reel to the rod. This is on there so people in chain stores don’t steal the reels off the rods. It isn’t meant to stay there. So after you buy your rod and reel, cut it off, and make sure the reel is snug in the reel seat.

Again, find that anti-reverse switch, know where it is, and leave the reel in the locked position. Tell the kids not to mess with this button while they are fishing. There’s no worse snarl in the world than a reel being fished with the reel handle cranking both ways! For some reason, people think that you need to flip this switch to “free spool” to cast. This just isn’t true.

“Well, why is the button there then? What is it for?”

The anti-reverse button is there to subtlety let out a little bit of line if you get a bite, or if your swivel is jammed up against your rod tip and your drag is too tight to pull out some line, you can back off with the anti-reverse. That’s about it. Penn and a few other reels have quit using the anti-reverse button and the reels are continuously in the lock position. I think this is the best thing anyone ever did!

Make sure the handle of the reel is on tight. Some reels handles simply crank clockwise to tighten them. Others are held by a handle screw on the opposite side of the reel. If the handle screw comes loose from the factory and the handle screw falls off, the handle can fall overboard, and that’s the end of the reel’s life. When we get rod/reel deliveries to our stores, the handles are usually hanging limp for shipping reasons and we try to crank them into the fishing position. But sometimes that doesn’t happen!

Screws. Whether it’s an inexpensive reel or a high dollar reel, it’s not a bad idea to get out a screw driver and check to see if all the screws are tight, especially the screw that holds the line roller to the bail wire. That screw holds in a lot of little parts. Don’t go crazy and strip the threads, just make sure there are no loose screws. Almost all the fishing reels are made in countries other than the USA and are shipped across the ocean to us. That’s miles and miles of vibration that could make a loose screw looser!

Check the drag knob on the top of your reel to make sure it is set. Some reels come in from the factory real loose. This isn’t a bad thing, because the drag washers won’t become compressed. But, if you are a novice and don’t understand what that button on the top of the reel is for, it can be frustrating. Turn it clockwise, so it isn’t real loose, but don’t crank it down as tight as you can either! Once you have your line pulled through your guides, pull on the end of the line and make sure you can pull some line off with pressure.
That’s so if you get a real big fish on, the fish won’t pull you overboard or break your line right away. If you are surf fishing and your drag isn’t set, a big ray can drag your rod/reel right out of the sand spike and into the ocean!

Speaking of the ocean, it’s a big expanse of salt and sand. A lovely place to fish, but please don’t let your reel fall in the sand or wash your reel in the ocean. Use a sand spike, that white pole that is made out of PVC. If sand gets inside a reel, that anti-reverse mechanism quits working, and the handle will turn both ways whether you want it to or not. The only way to fix it is to take a reel totally apart and clean it. If you don’t have the knowledge to do that, and most folks don’t, including me, it’s either spend $25 at a repair center or buy a new reel! Inexpensive reels aren’t even worth fixing, so then you have to buy a new reel!

After you have been fishing in saltwater, always hose off your rods and reels with freshwater. Even if you didn’t fish with a rod and reel that day on your boat, still wash it off. Be sure to hose the rod from top to bottom including the tip top where invisible salt spray can start corrosion. At the end of the season, back off your drag, take off any rigs and spray your rod and reel with a light lubricant like CRC or WD-40. There’s a product out there called Reel Magic that is nice to use at the end of the season too.
Good fishing…

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 10:17