Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

This is how I look after my spinning reels

I said the other day that I’d blog about how I look after my spinning reels here at home - there’s no exact science to it and I see and read about all manner of different ways of keeping your spinning reels as smooth and long-lasting as possible, indeed there is most likely also an argument for doing nothing to your reel after fishing and just sending it off for a service once it starts feeling a bit rough. That approach is not for me though and I guess I have a sort of routine with my spinning reels. If what I do is of any help then that’s the point of this blog post…………….


Bearing in mind that I have a few spinning reels of my own and then from time to time I get different reels to test out, I will always take a new reel out of the box and do a bit of oiling and possibly some greasing before I even put it on a rod and load it up with braid. I have used all manner of different oils and greases over the years, but these Penn Slammers III reels especially have come along and so blown me away that all I use now is the same oil and grease that are used in these reels - the Penn Precision Reel Oil and Penn Precision Reel Grease. As I said the other day, if these products are good enough for the Penn reels then they’re good enough for me.

As with the brand new Shimano Stradic FL 2500HG spinning reel that I received the other day for a test - and which I think seemed to be a bit “dry” out of the box, as in I can’t see any signs of oil in the easy to get at bearings, or grease around the top of the drag - I will put as much of the Penn Precision Oil into some of the bearings as they will take. Some anglers suggest running bearings in reels as dry as possible, but I do what I do here and it works well for me - I have been doing exactly what I am talking about in this blog post to my beloved little Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel from day one, and it’s genuinely as smooth as it was when I first lifted it from its box a couple of years ago now.

Sorry to keep banging on about the Penn Slammer III reels, but it is noticeable how they are well greased and oiled straight out of the box, indeed that easy to see blue coloured Penn Precision Reel Grease doesn’t half make it easy to see what parts are actually greased up. Okay, so one of the Penn quirks it seems is that you often have to play around with the shims to get a proper line-level out of the box - I can’t recall having to do this with a Shimano reel for example - but I’ll take a well greased and oiled reel any day of the week, and I can’t help but like how easy it is to remove the side plate on these Penn reels and properly check inside.


Anyway, so from the off and as regularly as I think is required, I’ll put some of that Penn Precision Reel Oil into each bearing either side of the handle - considering how much these bearings revolve as you turn the reel handle, I don’t personally want these things drying out. I don’t know where the oil goes when you fish with the reel for a while and then remove the handle and/or the side cap for a look/see - is there a little oil leprechaun? - but I do oil these bearings fairly regularly.

I am no reel engineer and my DIY skills are severely lacking, and whilst I don’t feel confident enough to completely strip down a spinning reel and do my own servicing, I used to do so with all my multipliers because I wanted them set up in a very specific way. I think I have a basic understanding of fishing reels, and to me the line roller on a spinning reel is surely the part of a spinning reel that is going to cop the most grief from saltwater ingress. Think about where your braid sits as you retrieve a lure, and then how saltwater is continually kinda spitting off the braid and then in and around the line roller area. For all that a company such as Daiwa bangs on about their Mag Seal technology, I don’t for a single second buy that it’s doing anything remotely meaningful around the line roller area, and that isn’t just a hunch - and yes, how much good Mag Seal does on the rest of a Daiwa reel as regards “sealing” is I believe somewhat open for debate - hence I’d be doing the same on any Daiwa reel as I would a Shimano or a Penn………...


I’m opening up that line roller on a pretty regular basis and oiling it up. I don’t really care whether it’s bearings or bushes or fairy dust in the actual line roller assembly, but I’ll unscrew the thing, carefully hold it from the other side, and get a load of oil in there. I then screw it back together, give it a wipe with a cloth, run some string back and forth around the actual line roller to make sure it’s turning, and then I will turn the reel handle a bunch of times. If your braid suddenly starts snapping out of the blue or looking badly damaged, you firstly need to have a close check of the guides on your lure rod for any damage, and then you need to check the line roller either for signs of rust, or whether it’s gone and actually seized up completely. I am not qualified to talk about replacing parts like these on a spinning reel, indeed if this was to happen to me I’d either oil it up and try getting it to turn nice and smoothly, or if it was seized and/or will not freely turn I’d be looking to send my reel somewhere for a service (I found an interesting article from Shimano on accessing and oiling up the line roller here).


As an aside, when I owned that Van Staal VR50 that I so wanted to work out for me, I messaged the powers that be at Van Staal USA to ask if the line roller was 100% sealed like the rest of the reel was. I eventually got a reply back that said just “yes” (so helpful!), but with no explanation as to how the line roller was actually sealed as I had asked. Is it? I would love to believe that the line roller is 100% sealed against saltwater getting in, but I can’t find any explanations online as to how this is achieved and/or whether it is truly the case. Please leave me a comment if you know more about this supposed line roller sealing on a Van Staal, thank you.


I also put a load of the blue Penn Precision Reel Grease underneath where the drag knob screws in, which I believe is the top of the actual drag assembly. I know that some of you here are very into the idea of uber-smooth drags for our lure fishing, and as much as I like it that braid can come off a reel nice and smoothly, I fish with a tight drag, I don’t like to give bass much if any line if possible, and I like the idea of plenty of grease around that area to help prevent saltwater getting in and doing its horrible thing. I do also remove the spool and put a drop of oil on the shaft, as per below.


When I get home from fishing I leave my reel on my rod (my rods sit in a rod rack in the hall and I then put them on a rod rack on my epic Berlingo to go fishing, so they rarely get broken down), I tighten the drag right down, and then I hose down the rod and reel with freshwater from an outside hose - you could of course do this in the shower or whatever, if showering with your rod and reel is your thing! I spray a lot of freshwater around the reel, then I slacken the drag off and leave the rod and reel to drip dry. Again I see some anglers saying that spraying a reel after use in saltwater can drive sand and grit further into the reel, but I have never found this to be the case and I will continue to do so.


If my spinning reel does happen to ship a lot of saltwater (surf fishing!) and/or I use my rod butt with reel on to test the depth of a gully (Slammer III only for me, I would never do this with a Shimano or Daiwa spinning reel), then when I get home I will take the reel off the rod, tighten the drag down tight, secure the line on it with a velcro strap (buy some velcro like this here and cut it into strips to wrap around the spool), and then put the reel in a sink of warm water and turn the reel handle for a while. I take the reel out of the water, wind the drag off, and let it drip-dry. So there you go. I reckon this is all nice and simple, and it works for me. If you have any suggestions then please leave me a comment below, and please rest assured that if I can do all of the above then I guarantee you can! None of the above takes me much time at all, and I will continue to do what I can to keep my gear lasting as long as possible.

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