How To Fix a Fishing Reel?

Fishing reels are like the engines of your fishing setup, making it crucial to keep them in good shape. As you spend time casting and reeling in your catch, it’s common for reels to face issues.

But fear not, because knowing how to fix a fishing reel, these problems can be a game-changer. In this guide, we’ll explore common reel troubles and provide simple steps for you to troubleshoot and repair them. From dealing with annoying tangles to fixing drag problems, these skills will empower you to maintain your gear easily.

So, gear up as we delve into the world of reel maintenance and repair, ensuring you can handle any hiccup that comes your way while fishing. Let’s make sure your fishing reel is always ready for action!

How Can a Fishing Reel Go Wrong?

Before you ask how to fix your fishing reel, it’s important to know what could go wrong. If you’re not very experienced, your fishing line might get tangled up. Using too much or too little lubrication can also cause problems, especially if you’re not good at taking care of your reel. So, understanding these issues beforehand can help you tackle them better when they happen.

Another problem you might face is with bail springs. If you don’t install braided lines correctly, especially the braided ones, they might slip and cause issues.

External factors can harm bait casters with level wind. Over time, the bearings, drag, and other moving parts of the fishing reel may wear out or become damaged due to age.

Even if you only use your reel in freshwater, it can still get corroded. There are various potential problems that may come up, as you can see.

What Are The Signs Of a Damaged Fishing Reel Problem?

Detecting line twists on fishing reels is easy, but figuring out if there are no line twists is challenging.

When things start to go wrong with your reel, you might notice some twitching, or it may not operate smoothly anymore. Beginner anglers are likely to misunderstand and misdiagnose some of these problems.

A specific type of damage commonly causes the following symptoms:

1. Bail Spring

If the bail spring, which is an internal part, is broken, you’ll observe that the bail won’t return to its position.

2. Braided Line Slipping

If the braided lines aren’t anchored properly, they can tangle and slip around the spool. If you notice these symptoms, it’s almost certain that your line hasn’t been mounted correctly.

3. Drag Malfunction

If setting the drag is difficult or shows inconsistency under tension, check the internal drag parts. Additionally, if you notice dragging without a clicking sound, it may be one of the symptoms.

4. Corrosion

If your reel shows any of these internal symptoms, be sure to inspect for corrosion in its internal parts when you take it apart.

5. Line Twist

If your fishing line frequently tangles, changes shape, or doesn’t lay evenly, you might have a line twist problem. Pulling out the line can result in curly twists.

6. Anti Reverse Malfunction

If the anti-reverse is broken, the most noticeable sign is that it will likely stop working.

7. Bearings Problems

If the bearings are worn out and corroded, you may notice symptoms like cracks and twitching in the reel.

Tools Required To Fix a Fishing Reel?

For a fishing reel to work well, it has many small, intricately-made parts that need to function properly. This applies to both spinning reels and baitcasting reels. Anglers will require some specialized tools to fix their gear.

  • Screwdrivers with flatheads and Phillips heads: You’ll probably need screwdrivers in different sizes. Many popular fishing reel brands are designed to be fixed using these tools.
  • An old toothbrush or a paintbrush: Use this tool to clean any dirt that has built up inside the housing or in other areas where the reel needs cleaning.
  • Compressed air: You can use compressed air to clean and blow away parts of the reel that are hard to reach.
  • Set of small wrenches: Make sure to have wrenches of the right size for tightening and loosening various fasteners.
  • Grease: Reel grease is crucial for properly lubricating specific areas of the reel. It’s an item you should always have in your tackle box.
  • Pliers: When working on reel parts, you may need to use pliers to secure them. The best type for this job is the needle-nose plier.
  • Cotton swabs: Rub the interior parts of the reel with these and apply solvent or detergent as needed.

If you encounter a serious problem while fishing and need to fix it on the spot, it’s a good idea to keep a small toolbox or toolkit in your boat.

mall toolbox or toolkit

You are often forced to deal with problems as they come up on the water if you work as a fishing guide or compete in tournaments, so it’s very important to have the right equipment to deal with them. 

How To Fix a Fishing Reel?

A fishing reel can be easily repaired by identifying and repairing each component. In the following sections, we briefly describe each part in detail.

How To Fix a Fishing Reel Handle?

To fix your fishing reel, you’ll need to remove the line from the reel handle. Ensure that all connections or attachments to your reel are disconnected or cut off to prevent any accidental pulls.

Along with the hooks, there is a hook guard on one end of this free end. Allowing all the hooks and other items to float, the de-hooker tool or tool rest they use can often be helpful in this situation.

  • It’s crucial to be aware that fishing lines can cause your reel to jam if they get wedged inside!
  • You can remove these bits by catching them on their sharp interior point, similar to a tack’s needle, using a foot-long piece of pipe or a large wire from the hardware store bent into a hook shape.
  • Generally, you’ll begin at the tip of a retrieval rod, potentially causing damage to your line. I would advise you to only use it on retrieval rods. For the rest of you, it’s better to keep it and not use it!
  • The retrieval stops or rosettes on my older ones were built-in, but I never used an external tool for them, making replacement more challenging.
  • How do these things work if they pop off? There’s a chance that the line can get tangled around the guides, leading to their failure.
  • If there is a gear involved, you might need to repair it, but be cautious not to break anything else! The issue could be due to a spring, an internal event, or a bad connection. Hopefully, this information helps you fix your reel handle.

How To Fix a Spinning Reel?

A fisherman is someone who enjoys the outdoors and fishing, finding joy in catching fish and spending time in nature. When your spinning reel isn’t working, you can fix it by following a few steps. First, identify the problem if you encounter any issues with your reel.

  • Does it not reel smoothly? Is the casting not as good as it used to be? Does the reel’s line tangle?
  • If you’re experiencing casting issues, you can adjust the drag knob to help smooth out the process.
adjust the drag knob
  • If your line continues to tangle inside the reel, remove all the lines from the spool and rewind the reel, ensuring there is no slack between each coil.
tangle inside the reel
  • If your line isn’t reeling smoothly, try working the gears inside your reel with a pencil eraser.

How To Fix a Fishing Reel Bail?

In a spinning reel, the bail plays a crucial role in keeping the line on the spindle in place. If it’s not functioning properly, it can hinder your ability to catch fish. Before fixing it, it’s essential to identify what’s wrong with the spinning reel bail. If the spring is broken or not spinning correctly, it will need replacement.

  • To replace the spring, you need to remove the spool. Loosen all four bolts holding the spool in place, and once they are loosened, slide it off. Set it aside with the other parts of your reel until it’s loose enough to be easily removed.
  • To remove the rod top, start by taking off the spool. Then, remove the spool nut, replacing it with a new one. Make sure to reinstall the spool nut securely.
taking off the spool
  • Once you’ve replaced the spool nut, you can tighten the top of the rod by sliding it back into place. It’s secured by a bolt. After reattaching the spool, make sure to tighten all four bolts holding it in place.
tighten all four bolts holding it
  • If the spring on the reel is broken, the reel won’t spin properly. To fix this, unscrew the reel from the rod, and install a new spring.

How To Fix a Fishing Reel Drag?

If the reel isn’t spinning at all, the motor may need replacement. Excessive vibration could indicate a loose bearing. When you experience excessive vibration or high-pitched sounds during use, replacing the bearings usually resolves the issue.

When your spinning reel is turning too quickly and not putting enough drag on your line, adjust the drag settings to match your fishing style.

  • To maintain the proper functionality of your loops and leaders, it’s important to change them regularly.
  • Dropping your fishing pole in a bucket of water can cause irreparable damage!
  • After catching a fish, bring the rod down horizontally. Particularly when fishing offshore for extended periods, regularly check the line with me
  • Don’t use hook bearings on your rod tips! They might stop working after 4 hours with light drag. If the drag is heavy, they could get hurt and break
  • Make sure your fishing line is touching your finger when you reel in upside down! Otherwise, the mercury inside can get messed up. If you’re moving towards the slackline bulkhead, reel in the right side up.
 fishing line is touching your finger
  • Great Lakes spinning reels lack a line lock, and it can cause problems. If your spool breaks, which happens sometimes, you can fix it using three thin strands of stray monofilament or KT monofilament. KT monofilament is stretchier and a bit thinner than regular monofilament.

How To Fix a Fishing Reel Handle That Breaks?

If the plastic handle breaks on your spinning reel, follow these steps:

  • Take out the screws that are holding the handle in place.
  • Lift the handle upward to remove it from the spindle.
Lift the handle upward to remove it from the spindle
  • Use pliers or a screwdriver to take out any gears inside the handle. Be careful not to damage any wiring connections.
  • Attach the hook to the handle and spindle by threading a new line through them.
  • Since tackle stores use various sizes and threads for grips inside their plastic handles, obtaining a replacement handle from them might be challenging. Additionally, if the reel is geared or has fishing jigging gears, attempting this yourself may not be successful. It’s advisable to seek assistance from someone with expertise in handling such matters.

To fix a broken carbon handle on a spinning reel, follow these steps:

  • To avoid harming the gears and wires, it’s advisable to remove the broken carbon hood covering them. Use pliers to create a hole in one or two clear rubber gaskets to take off the cover. This way, you can conveniently access all wiring connections and hooks for attaching the line, ensuring that fishing remains possible. However, if you’re worried about your hands getting contaminated with carbon fiber shrapnel, it’s best to avoid attempting this.
  • With pliers or a screwdriver, take out any gears, wires, or blades as necessary. If you’re aiming to repair the plastic handle part of your reel, you generally shouldn’t need to remove any other components that appear to be inside the handle itself.

How to Fix a Tangled or Twisted Fishing Reel?

Fishing reels can get tangled due to various reasons, and every angler eventually encounters this issue. It’s a common problem that almost everyone faces with their reels.

Several factors can lead to twisting. Uneven line lay or loose line during hand spooling may be the cause of the problem. Some lures, like inline spinners, can contribute to twisting if their bodies are used instead of just the blades.

  • To address line twisting, start by untwisting the line. You can utilize a current in a river or boat for this purpose. Grab the line and gradually untwist it, meter by meter. 
  • Once the line hangs freely without twisting, reel t back in. Ensure it is evenly distributed and firm. If a part of the line becomes tangled accidentally, you can cut it off. However, if the problem of tangling and twisting persists, you may need to consider re-spooling.
  • Perfecting the process takes practice, but if you find it challenging, consider seeking professional assistance. Twisted and tangled lines can lead to difficulties when reeling in your reel.

How To Fix a Fishing Reel That Won’t Reel In?

Here are the steps to fixing a fishing reel that won’t reel in:

  • Check the tension of your line. If the line is too tight, the spool may not have enough play. Loosen the line a bit to address this issue.
  • Make sure to keep the reel properly lubricated. Apply grease to the gears and bearings for smooth operation.
  • Clean the reel thoroughly inside and out to remove any dirt or debris.
  • If there is wear-and-tear or if the drag knob is broken, it’s essential to replace it.
  • Verify that the spring tension is correct. If the spring is too loose, it might stretch out. Ensure that the spring is appropriately tight.
  • Check the bail on your reel. If it’s bent, there’s a chance the bail pin might be stuck. Try removing the bail pin and then attempt again.

How To Fix a Spinning Reel That Won’t Lock In lace?

If your spinning reel won’t lock in place, consider adjusting it or replacing the bearings. Check if the drag knob is loose, as its position on the handle might prevent proper engagement with the stop at the end of the travel. Loosening it up can provide a better feel for your spindle’s movement.

A bearing might experience excessive wear if one side is significantly worn down. Simply replacing the bearings may not be sufficient. There’s a possibility that one of your bearings, specifically its internal ball bearings, is moving differently than its neighbor within the bearing.

Swapping out certain parts may prevent the spinning reel from locking in place, leading to side-to-side wobbling or other issues.


In conclusion, fixing fishing reels is like having a secret skill for anglers. The guide talks about common problems reels face and gives a complete set of tools, both in knowledge and actual tools, to deal with these issues. It stands out by explaining signs of damage and specific symptoms of reel troubles, making it useful for all anglers.

By teaching practical skills, from fixing tangled lines to repairing important parts, the guide helps make every fishing reel a reliable partner, always ready for unexpected problems. It’s like a simple guide for anglers to fish confidently and skillfully.

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