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Reel Tips & Maintenance

The drag systems in Fin-Nor reels are designed with high-performance materials like ceramics, carbon fiber and stainless steel to stay smooth even when fighting big fish. But your drag still needs to be set properly.

To set the drag correctly, start by releasing the drag tension by turning the dial on the front of the spool counterclockwise. Then as you pull line from the reel, slowly turn the dial clockwise to increase the drag tension to the proper setting. A good rule of thumb is to set the drag to about 1/3 the breaking strength of your line (e.g. 10 lb. test = 3-4 lbs of drag). The best way to measure the setting is to use a fish scale tied to the line, but you can also simply use your experience in feeling how much tension is best as you pull on the line. Remember, you should always be able to pull line through the tension of the drag to prevent line breakage.

Basic Cleaning & Maintenance
Periodically, the spool should be removed and gently rinsed with fresh water, along with the rest of the reel. Then, dry with a soft cloth and use a few drops of light oil to lubricate the line roller, bail hinge springs, crank handle knobs and shaft, and where the center shaft exits the top of the reel.

Detailed Cleaning & Maintenance
Remove the handle, spool, rotor, side plate and crank gear, use a small brush (paint brush or toothbrush) to clean exposed parts with water and a mild detergent (such as dish washing liquid). Dry with a soft cloth then apply lubricant as suggested in the spinning lubrication section. If you are uncomfortable with a more detailed cleaning, contact one of our authorized Fin-Nor Service Centers.

Saltwater Cleaning & Maintenance
After each saltwater fishing trip, remove the spool and soak in fresh water, thoroughly rinse the reel body with a light spray of fresh water. Thorough cleaning after each saltwater trip is very important to the life and dependability of your reel. The reason for this is that every time saltwater gets on the reel and dries, it leaves a microscopic coating of “crystalline” salt residue. This salt coating will not only attack the components in the reel but will create the same wearing and/or binding effect as sand or dirt.

The lever drag is used when trolling for big game fish such as yellow fin tuna or marlin. When trolling, the lever is set just above the "free" position. Then, once a fish takes the bait, the lever is pushed into the "strike" position. When the lever is in the "strike" position you are able to employ the precise amount of drag to control the fish without breaking the line if the fish turns and makes a hard run. You can also increase the drag above the strike position by moving the lever beyond the strike preset. This can add even more drag force when needed to stop a hard running fish but be careful not to exceed the breaking strength of your line. 

To adjust the drag, move the lever into the free position. Then use the drag preset knob to adjust the drag power you want at strike. Move the drag lever to strike and measure the drag tension with a spring scale. If further adjustments are needed, return the lever to the free position and dial in more or less force with the preset knob as needed. Note: Only adjust the preset knob when the lever is in the free position.

On 2-speed conventional reel models, a shift button is provided at the end of the crank handle. By pushing in on the center button the reel is shifted into the low speed position. To return to the high speed position, simply rotate the outer ring until you hear a click. The reel is now in the high speed position which is how the reel should be used in most situations. The low speed setting is particularly helpful when fish are directly below the boat as it helps to provide the “winching” power to pull hard fighting fish up through the water column.

Your conventional reel is designed to handle the harsh saltwater environment for many years when properly maintained and lubricated. After each use, mist your reel thoroughly with warm fresh water to remove salt and grime. Wipe it dry and lightly mist it with water displacement lubricant or protectant. Be careful not to wash reel under high pressure that could force contaminants into the reel. Let your reel set out to dry before putting on any kind of reel cover or storage.

Thorough cleaning after each saltwater trip is very important to the life and dependability of your reel. Every time saltwater gets on the reel and dries, it leaves a microscopic coating of “crystalline” salt residue. This salt coating will not only attack the components in the reel but will create the same wearing and/or binding effect as sand or dirt.

You will need to completely clean and lubricate the inside of your reel periodically because moisture and salt will eventually build up inside your reel and cause damage. 

Your spinning reel has been designed to provide years of dependable performance when properly maintained and lubricated. The following points document the proper maintenance guidelines that should be used for all spinning reels:

  • Be sure to exercise care when applying oil and grease and use only small amounts of each when lubricating, as excess is unnecessary and can hinder performance of reel.

  • The more frequent or severe the use, the more often and thoroughly a reel should be serviced. Your reel should be cleaned and re-lubed after each trip of saltwater fishing or if dropped in dirt or sand.

  • Annually the reel should be professionally cleaned and lubricated by an authorized Fin-Nor Service Center.

  • A detailed lubrication schematic for spinning reels can be viewed here. Lubrication points are as follows (some part descriptions will vary from reel to reel): 

    • Grease: Crank Gear, Crank Shaft, Pinion Gear, Center Shaft Assembly, Pick-up Arm, Line Roller, Spool Washers and Bushings.

    • Oil: Handle Knobs (both ends), Pick-up Pin, Arm Lever (pivot), Kick Lever Mechanism, Ball Bearings, Clutch Screw and Spool Release Mechanism.

NOTE: Grease and oil used should be a good quality, light grade product designed for fishing reels.
 

It's important to use quality fishing line in weights that are appropriate to both the size of the reel, and the type and size of fish that you will most likely be targeting with that reel.

Fishing line does become weaker and more prone to tangles as it gets old, so we recommend respooling your reels at least once per season to avoid problems on the water.

Setting the drag correctly will keep you from losing that fish of a lifetime. The drag is the mechanism that provides resistance when reeling in a fish. Don't over-set the drag; there should always be a little play in the drag to prevent breaking the line when a fish pulls hard.

We recommend a tension setting of about 1/3 of the breakage strength of the line (ex. 10 lb. = 3 to 4 lbs. of drag).

To set the drag correctly, first start by releasing the drag tension. Then as you pull line from the reel, slowly increase the drag tension to the proper setting. The best way to measure the setting is to use a fish scale tied to the line, but you can also simply use your experience in feeling how much tension is best as you pull on the line. Remember, you should always be able to pull line through the tension of the drag to prevent line breakage.

Depending on your reel model, changing your handle to the other side is easily done one of two ways. For some models, simply unscrew the handle screw on the opposite side of the reel from the handle. Pull out the handle assembly and reinsert the handle shaft through the reel on the opposite side of the reel and tighten the handle screw on the other side. For other models, the handle screws directly into the body, so detach it by rotating it in the opposite direction of your retrieve to unscrew. Remove the cap on the opposite side of the reel, screw in the handle by turning it the same direction as your retrieve to tighten and replace the cap on the other side. If all that sounds confusing, just watch the video below and we’ll show you how.

Filling the spool to 90% capacity is recommended. Too much line on a baitcast reel could increase the chance of backlash, while not enough line could limit the casting distance – and the fish-fighting action. For spinning reels, a good rule of thumb is to fill the spool until there’s at least 1/8th of an inch of room from the line to the edge of the spool lip. That will let you use the most line capacity without causing line to spring off the spool and form tangles.

Proper lubrication is important for any reel. Lubricate the key parts such as bearings and main shaft with a light amount of quality oil. The worm gear, main gears and the pinion gear should be lubricated with a small amount of quality grease. Too much oil or grease can reduce the performance level of a reel, so a light coating is recommended. It is also recommended that you re-lubricate your reel on a monthly basis, particularly after heavy use.

Choosing the right size spinning reel generally depends on the type of fish you are targeting. For small panfish like crappie and bluegill, smaller spinning reels such as an 05- or 10-size are best. For larger species such as largemouth bass, walleye and striped bass (fresh and salt), 20- to 50-size reels work the best.

Inshore saltwater fishermen may use 20-40-size spinning reels for their targets, while offshore anglers hunting small tuna or dorado will prefer a larger reel in the 50-80-size range.