How to Fix a Baitcast Reel

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Bait cast reels are a type of fishing reel suited for use on both fresh and salt water fish species. Featuring an open spool design, bait casting reels are manufactured by several different companies such as Abu Garcia, Shimano, Penn and Diawa. It might be necessary to occasionally perform minor maintenance or repair to a bait cast reel resulting from common use.

Step 1

Wipe down the outside of the reel with a cloth to remove any debris or dirt. Use a small amount of soap and water if necessary to help loosen and remove stubborn stains. Debris such as pond scum and algae can be transferred from the fishing line to the spool. Excessive buildup can affect the overall performance of the reel.

Step 2

Access the spool by opening or releasing a slide or panel on the side of the reel body. This will disengage the spool retention mechanism and allow the spool to be removed. Examine the spool for damage including nicks or cracks as well as excessive wear. Damaged spools should be replaced with parts from the manufacturer.

Step 3

Examine any accessible gearing for moving parts associated with the spool operation. Often debris from the water can accumulate on parts and result in slower gear operation. Brush away any visible debris with a brush, inspect the parts for damage and apply a small amount of oil.

Step 4

Remove the reel handle for inspection and cleaning. Typically, the handle will unscrew if turned opposite or backward from the normal turning direction. Clean and lubricate the handle assembly as well as any interior moving parts. Many reels have a sealed assembly to prevent water and moisture from entering the reel body.

Step 5

Access internal gearing by removing the small screws used to hold access plates in place. A small blade or Phillips screwdriver is typically required. Remove old oil or grease from the internal gears and parts with a cotton swab, and inspect the parts for damage. Apply a small amount of oil and reassemble the reel.


  • Use caution when working with oil and lubricants, avoid prolonged contact with hands and keep it away from your eyes.


  • A thorough cleaning and lubrication can remedy operating problems associated with bait cast reels.
  • Inspecting the reel while cleaning can help to determine more severe issues that require professional servicing.


About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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