Winter is the time for fishing reel maintenance—or to be more accurate, it's the time when we can do some fishing tackle chores without feeling like we're missing out on anything. In fact, at this point in the season it's quite nice to break out all of those rods and reels and reels for any reason... any at all. Of course, if you want that gear to work properly come spring, you'll want to do the best job you can. So here are five important fishing reel maintenance tips to keep in mind.
1. Always take the reel completely off the rod, before you do anything. This doesn't just make the job easier, it's also an important part of maintaining the reel seat. If saltwater found its way into the seat (and it probably did) you may discover a corroded mess underneath. Now's the time to find it, and fix it. Before you re-mount the reel, give the seat a spritz of a good corrosion-inhibitor, like CorrosionX or Boeshiled T-9.
2. Never, ever, never never ever spray WD-40 inside a fishing reel. That's not what this stuff is intended for, and although it'll make the reel spin like a charm right now, by the end of next season it'll probably feel like turning a coffee grinder. WD-40 is a solvent as well as being a lubricant, and it will break down the other oils and greases inside the reel.
3. Speaking of oil and grease... don't mix the two. Some parts of some reels require oil, and others require grease (or teflon, PTFE, or another specific lubricant). Make sure you know what's what and which belongs where (check the owner's manual or just Google it) because mixing the two ensures the wrong viscosity.
4. Replace monofilament fishing line, at least every other year, even if it looks and feels perfectly good. Mono is degraded by UV rays, so after spending some time in the sun that 20 pound test is more like 18 pound test. You should be able to get several seasons out of a spool of braid, sometimes even as many as four or five. With this stuff, the real limiting factor is wear due to abrasion.
5. As you reassemble the body after cleaning and lubricating a reel's innards, always give the screws a dab of anti-seize. The body screws on reels are notorious for corroding into place, and often they're small enough that stripping them or breaking off a head is common.
Now let's say you've made each and every reel in your arsenal look and feel great. Good job. But you'd better start sharpening those hooks, shining your spoons, and combing your bucktails—there are still a few long months of winter ahead.