Reel Care

Taking care of equipment the best insurance policy

Big fish like this one can give your equipment a work out. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.

“Reel, Reel, Reel!,” I screamed, as the main line broke free from the Scotty downrigger release clip and a large king started peeling line off the reel like a rocket. After a 15 minute hard fight I netted a large chinook well over 30-pounds. During this trip my tackle performed perfectly.

Catching large salmon or any hard fighting sport fish can and will tax your tackle to the breaking point. Rods, reels and tackle must be maintained flawlessly to give the angler the upper hand against fierce fighting fish. It’s imperative that you perform routine maintenance on all your tackle from the rod and reel to the last knot tied. If this isn’t done, the only story told will be of the one that got away.

I look at quality rods and reels as long term investments and take the time to care for them properly. Weekend warriors, myself included, should at a minimum have their reels inspected once a year and charter captains and anglers that fish every day should service them monthly to insure flawless operation. There is nothing that will sour a days fishing more than the loss of a large fish because of a bad or sticky drag on a reel.

Here are some simple steps I perform on my Shimano Tekota reels to insure reliability on each fishing trip:


Reel Care

-At the end of the days fishing with the drag system set to a high setting (to prevent water intrusion) clean the entire exterior of the reel using a soft spray of Salt-Away and wash down or wipe clean with a soft spray of fresh water. Clean every nook and cranny to ensure that all the salt water and dirt deposits are removed.

-Dry the reel thoroughly with a soft clean towel and place in a warm dry location to air dry. Back off the drag adjustment until “free spool” is achieved. Leaving the drag system under a heavy setting for extended periods will lead to erratic drag performance.

-For longer storage periods take the reel off the rod and wipe it down with Reel-X. A small brush can be used to ensure the protective spray is worked into tight corners of the reel. This will also help prevent oxidation on the reel seat or foot.

-Lightly lubricate exterior components using top quality reel oil. The reel handle, drag knobs, bar arm pivots and rollers, clicker assemblies, and all oil ports can be serviced easily.

-For the continued top performance of your reel, I recommend a full strip down, complete servicing, and re-lubrication at least every 12 months or even more often if the reel is used frequently like mine are. If you don’t want to do it yourself then send it to a recommended reel repair pro-shop to be completed by a knowledgeable service pro. Your reel manufacture can provide you a local contact for service on your brand of reel.

-I also keep a kit on the boat for quick reel tune-ups or repairs when on the road with my boat to Canada and other distant fishing locations.

This kit includes the following:

a. 4-ounce bottle of Salt-Away
b. Bottle of Reel-X
c. Reel Grease
d. Reel Lube
e. Small brush & Q-tips
f. Spare set of drags for the brand reel I fish
g. Shimano reel handle tool for breakdown


Yes, I do keep an extra Tekota reel spooled with 25 pound main line ready for fast changeovers, should a problem arise while fishing. By taking care of my main reels, however, I seldom have to go to my back up.

For up keep on high quality graphite rods like Lamiglas, Shimano, St Croix, and G. Loomis I like to wash down the rods with Salt-Away and then wipe them off with liquid furniture polish to protect the finish. I then store them on the boat or office in rod socks for protection.

As the old saying goes, if you take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.

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