Buying a used car can be a harrowing experience, but buying a used bait casting fishing reel doesn’t have to be. Anglers upgrading gear are willing to unload perfectly good reels. Internet or Flea market sales are loaded with used reels. If you’re fairly handy, willing to learn reel repair, and know what you want…a used reel is nothing to be afraid of! Finding a trustworthy reel repair shop is also a good idea! Ask which used reels might be good targets! Find out how much they charge for reconditioning. I spoke with Jim Funkhouser at Dominion Tackle & Reel Repair (dominiontackle.com)…he had several noteworthy suggestions!
Stick to the better-known brands. Shimano, Abu, Daiwa, and some Quantum reels are a safer bet. Call repair or parts suppliers to determine parts availability! Check dependability with a few trips to bass fishing chat rooms.
Unless the reel is brand new and in the box, you should try to get the reel at least 50% off retail. Assume spending at least $20-30 to bring it up to snuff, more if there are parts issues. Most shops only charge for necessary parts under the maintenance fee. Ask the owner how it was used. In salt water, stay away! Look for signs of corrosion.
Before you consider a reel, check the exterior for cracks! Body parts are hard to find and usually cost a lot. Each piece could be $20 and might not be worth replacing in most reels. Stay away from this one, it’s a “parts” reel!
Next check the reel handle. It’s pretty easy to spin the paddles, and to check the handle for being bent. It’s easy to replace, but carries a replacement cost from $15 on up! Turn the handle. Feel for grinding or resistance. Grinding could be a gear or other internal problem…gears run about $15 or more and need to be installed a shop. If line isn’t stuck between the spool and the housing of the reel and you get resistance when you crank the reel, turn the reel over to inspect the worm gear. This gear moves the level wind back and forth. If it’s scarred or marred, this could be the visible reason the reel isn’t performing. This part usually runs about $15 plus installation. If the level wind doesn’t go left or right, and the worm gear revolves, then you need to replace the pawl. It’s about $5 and easily installed.
Check revolving of the spool. Loosen the spool adjustment cap, turn off the brakes and disengage the spool. Spin the spool with your finger and see how it revolves. If it keeps spinning, then your bearings might just need to be cleaned and oiled. If it only makes it through a revolution, then bearing replacement, about $10, is probably indicated.
Pull line to check the drag system. Loosen the drag first, and then apply incremental adjustments to tighten to see if the line pulls out smoothly. If not, drag washers and a bit of grease will fix that! If it appears the drag is not working…and there is braided line on the spool, you might have a steal here! Many anglers do not put a monofilament backing on the reel before the braided refill. Braid works loose and won’t hold onto the reel spool, appearing to be a major drag issue. Test by tightening the drag. If the braided line pulls out, this is most likely the issue! Don’t let this scare you away from this one.
Sometimes a reel covered with accumulated dirt might be a diamond in the rough. The previous owner probably never cleaned it and when the performance decreased, he wanted to unload it. This reel can be bargained for! Make a low-ball offer on this dirty reel! If nothing else it’s another “parts” reel, but may possibly only require a thorough cleaning to bring it back to life.
Also, with some of the older reels, which you can actually use to fish with, count on replacing bearings or removing bushings to replace with bearings.
Learn which models you like and recognize a good deal when you see it! When you see the deal, seal it before it gets away! There‘s nothing wrong with older reels. They might be a bit heavier or slightly larger, but they are usually well built and can offer many more years of service.
Potomac River Bassing in May
Fish are in spawn and post spawn stage. In either case, fish shallow up to 5 feet or so. Lipless crankbaits like the Lucky Craft LVR D-7 are working. Reds, whites and chrome baits work…chartreuse on sunny days! Use12-pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line. Move up when fishing heavier grass.
Carolina rigs with Round Valley ¾ ounce tungsten weights. Leaders up to 3 feet with Mann’s HardNose lizards soaked in garlic Jack’s Juice.
This is a great time to fish Mizmo tubes one of two ways. For skipping, use an insert head. For pitching, thread the tube on a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point tube hook Texas style with a 3/16-ounce weight. For the skipping technique, use 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly. For pitching, beef up to 14-15-pound test Edge fluorocarbon line.
For covering water with grass or wood, Mann’s Baby 1-Minus in firetiger or red patterns work very well! I would try changing the hooks to the short shank Mustad KVD Triple Grip trebles. For line, start with 12 pound test EDGE moving up to 14 or even 16 as the grass gets thicker.
On shallow cover, cast Mann’s Baby-X square bill cranks on 10-pound test GAMMA Copoly to tree laydowns and rock. Works better at high tides with fish pushing up to the bank. Crank to feel cover, then hesitate and twitch. A good 7’ cranking rod like the Quantum KVD will cast a mile!
Written by: Steve Chaconas
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS “Ask the Expert” (http://my.boatus.com/askexperts/bassfishing/)
Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.