Are You Showing Your Reels the Love They Deserve?

TSFMag Editorial Staff and Warren Faulkner
Are You Showing Your Reels the Love They Deserve?

Warren Faulkner - Forty-six years in the trade and still after it hammer and tong every day.

Today’s fishing reels are highly-engineered and manufactured to precise tolerances. And the prices can certainly reflect this. Right out of the box they deliver incredibly long casts and the drag systems function as smooth as silk.

But, in the real world, and we’ve all been there; our favorite outfit that operated flawlessly the last time out sounds more like a coffee grinder than a precision instrument after a few weeks in the rod rack.

What it boils down to is the way you care for them after a fishing trip can make all the difference in how long they can continue to deliver that wonderful out-of-the-box performance, especially in saltwater. So, rather than offer layman advice on how to care for your tackle, we decided to ask a professional.

Warren Faulkner heads up the Reel Service Department at Fishing Tackle Unlimited’s Katy Freeway Store, and he’s been doing it for a long time – 46 years, to be exact. We asked for Warren’s advice and here’s what he had to say. Hopefully his words will help our readers enjoy better performance from their reels…and greater success on the water.

TSFMag: How many years have you been working in the reel service trade…how long with FTU?
Warren: I started in 1978 with White Plaza Sporting Goods. I became a general partner in the repair department at Bass & Bay in 1984 through April of 1992. I have been with Fishing Tackle Unlimited since May 1, 1992.

TSFMag: In general, how would you rate the quality and reliability of today’s fishing reels with those of the past?
Warren: The earlier reels were well-built, stronger construction but extremely heavy, and fairly reliable for the times. Today’s reels are lightweight construction, much faster retrieve, and manufactured to very close tolerances that require more maintenance.

TSFMag: What are the most common reasons or problems for customers bringing reels for service?
Warren: Lack of simple maintenance and the fact that Texas saltwater is brutal on reels, especially when they’ve been dunked.

TSFMag: What percentage of the business brought to you is saltwater related…what percentage is freshwater?
Warren: I would say an easy 80% or more of the reels that go through our shop are fished in saltwater.

TSFMag: In your opinion, do any reel brands or models stand out as superior in terms of resisting failure due to wear and tear under normal usage?
Warren: I would say that most name brand reels today are very good. In the baitcasting category Shimano, Lew's, 13 Fishing, Daiwa and Abu-Garcia have all made great improvements. As far as spinning reels I prefer the Shimano, Daiwa and Penn. But in the end it still comes down to maintenance, how the owners take care of them.

TSFMag: Which reel components seem most prone to failure in what you would term normal usage?
Warren: The most common failures we see on a continuing basis are ball bearings, drag systems, levelwind worm shafts and pawls, and the anti-reverse roller clutch.

TSFMag: How might you recommend anglers care for their reels between fishing trips?
Warren: There are several products on the market today such as Reel Wash by RBT, Lew's Speed Cleanz, Rod and Reel Cleaner by Penn, and the Ardent line of reel products. Simply spray the exterior of both rods and reels and then wipe down. I prefer micro-fiber cloths for wiping both rods and reels.

TSFMag: In general, and in your opinion, is rinsing reels with water a good idea after fishing in saltwater?
Warren: The age old question of fresh water rinsing…only as a last resort. I've had a lot of people argue with me about rinsing reels. Many of them have told me their dads and grandads used nothing but water. I usually jokingly reply, "Yep, and I worked on their reels as well because of it."

TSFMag: Do you recommend reels to be opened, side plates and spools removed, to promote drying between fishing trips?
Warren: If the owner insists on using water to rinse the reels, then yes. Water’s going to get inside the reel and it needs to be allowed to air dry as much as possible, followed by a light oiling of the bearings. I say ‘light oiling’ because today's bearings are very close tolerance. This is one of those instances where less is better.

TSFMag: Which lubricants would you recommend anglers use on their reels when preforming their own maintenance?
Warren: On most baitcast reels we suggest a very light viscosity oil, such as Shimano’s reel oil or Remington’s Rem Oil. For spinning reels we suggest a heavier viscosity oil like those offered by Penn, Reel-X, Ardent and RBT Technologies. These companies offer kits featuring both a light and heavier viscosity oil, as well as a grease lube. Our preferred grease lubricant for most reels is the Shimano Drag Grease. There are many great products on the market today. The key is knowing which product to use and where to apply it. This is one of those questions you might ask ten different repair shops and get ten different answers.

TSFMag: In your opinion, what are the most harmful practices anglers are guilty of in caring (or not caring) for their reels?
Warren: Leaving their reels exposed to the elements. Lack of maintenance of any kind. Submerging reels in saltwater is almost the kiss of death if you don't get something done within a short period of time. Most repair shops are very busy with long turnaround times, so be sure to mention to them that the reel has been under water. Most good shops will take the time to at least get some type of lubricant into the bearings or other areas to slow the effects of corrosion.

TSFMag: Any other ideas, comments, or topics not covered so far?
Warren: I will throw this out there as a PSA. Keep in mind that a good repair shop usually has a large work load, so turnaround times will take a while. Sometimes parts are hard to come by, especially for older reels. Before you get upset with the guys in the repair shop, remember they are not making money with your reel waiting in the shop. Parts have been much harder to get since the supply shortages of the Covid years, and it’s still not over. But, the better news is that things are improving. Please feel free to come by or call us anytime and we will do our best to help you out.

So, there you go, folks. Straight talk from a professional that’s been in the trade longer than any other technician we have ever met. Hoping this helps you get the most out of your tackle investment…and catch more fish! -TSFMag Editorial Staff