Common Baitcasting Reel Problems (And How To Fix Them)

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If you own a baitcasting reel, facing baitcasting reel problems is inevitable. No matter how many years you have been fishing, you’ll still face some common problems with your baitcasting reel. These problems adversely affect your fishing, and you will end up missing a few catches.

To best way to avoid and fix baitcasting problems is by proper maintenance of your reel and regular cleaning. Here we will be dealing with the most common baitcasting reel problems and their solutions.

Baitcaster won’t Reel

If your baitcaster doesn’t reel, it could probably be because of,

  • Wrong Line Size
  • Mismanaged Levelwind
  • Lines Slippage

Wrong Line Size

Most of the time, line tangles are caused by the use of wrong-sized lines. If you are using a line that is either too light or enormous, you will most likely face reeling issues. With these issues, you will experience tangles in the line, making it quite hard to reel. 

How to Fix

To fix the issues with the wrong line size, the first thing you ought to do is try out the manufacturer’s recommendation, especially if you are a beginner. Alternatively, you can get different lines and try them out to determine the line that works best for you.

Mismanaged Levelwind

The level wind is operated by a worm gear assembly and is mainly exposed to water, dirt particles, sand, soil and salt, which could eventually lead to reeling problems. The level wind is used to wind the line as you spool; if it malfunctions, you can expect reeling problems with your baitcaster.

How to fix

Fixing your level wind is not complicated. First of all, the level wind is easily replaceable. So, if it’s completely ruined, you can get it easily replaced. Most of the time, though, it only requires a thorough cleaning. After use, make sure to wipe it down. Also, make sure you disassemble the reel to clean the gear parts.

Line Spillage

Once in a while, you will encounter line spillage when using baitcasting reels, and this will probably stop the reeling of your baitcaster. With a baitcaster, you can either use your braided line, fluorocarbon line or a monofilament line. However, braided line is often regarded as the best for baitcasting reels. They are durable, and they do not have any stretch. The lack of stretch may result in line spillage once in a while resulting in reeling problems, and that’s why they require some anchoring for maximum performance.

How to Fix

To fix braided line spillage, apply a backing directly on the reel to serve as a grip. To do this, you can use a few wraps of monofilament line at the base of the spool before you wrap the braided line.

Baitcasting Reels Make Noise When Reeling

When your baitcasting reels make too much noise, it could be because of an internal problem. The following reasons could be behind your noisy baitcasting reel.

  • A dry reel brake
  • Problems with reel’s bearings
  • A dirty baitcasting reel
  • Old baitcasting reel

Dry Reel Brakes

Dry reel brakes will result in noise since the surfaces inside are rubbing. Dry brakes are very common, especially with baitcasting reels that use centrifugal brakes made from plastic as they constantly rub the inside of the brake ring.

How to Fix

To fix the dry reel brake issue is to have your reel oiled regularly. This way, you can get rid of noise emerging from the rubbing of dry reel brakes. Better still, have them regularly checked and lubricated by a professional.

Reel Bearings Problems

When your baitcasting reel has problems with its ball bearings, there is a high chance of making noise. The bearings could be loose or too tight. Whatever the case, the noise is irritating and it could scare the fish away leaving you frustrated every time you step out to fish. 

How to Fix

To fix any noise coming from ball bearing issues, first make sure the bearings match your baitcasting reel. Then, make sure the bearings are lubricated regularly.

A Dirty Baitcasting Reel

Dirt is another reason for a noisy baitcasting reel. Some anglers rarely clean their baitcasting reels after fishing, and eventually, they accumulate too much dirt resulting in dryness of the internal parts.

How to Fix it

After every fishing trip, make sure you clean the baitcasting reel thoroughly with fresh water. Once or twice a month, disassemble the reel and clean every part thoroughly.

Old Baitcasting Reels

If you have used your baitcasting reel for way too long, it could be the reason behind the noise. Most probably, the different parts have corroded and reduced due to increased use.

How to Fix

The only way to solve this problem is by replacing your baitcasting reel and getting a new one. However, if you choose to use still the old baitcaster, do some deep cleaning and lubricating.

Baitcaster Thumb Bar won’t Stay Engaged.

Sometimes the Baitcaster thumb bar will not stay engaged, and it keeps coming back up. This disengagement results in spool-free spooling. If your thumb bar is not in the up position when closing the side plates, it could result in the thumb bar failure to engage.

How to Fix

If your thumb bar doesn’t disengage, try disassembling the baitcasting reel completely. Wash every part and lubricate the parts. When working on the reel, use a good digital camera to take pictures as you disassemble the reel. When reassembling it, make sure you are extra careful to avoid making any mistakes.

Baitcaster Thumb Bar Sticking

A baitcaster thumb bar is where you’re your thumb rests on the spool for spool control. Sometimes the thumb bar sticks when pressing or when reengaging. Most of the time, this is caused by accumulated dirt.

How to Fix

To solve the problem with a sticking thumb bar, the first step you need to take is to disassemble the baitcasting reel. After disassembling the reel, give it a good cleaning in every part. Then squirt some oil after and make this a regular practice. After this, you will not deal with a sticking thumb bar.

Baitcaster Drag not Working

If your baitcaster drag is not working, it’s because there could be a problem. The drag is found near the handle, and it serves the purpose of regulating the tension on the line when fighting big fish. If your drag is not working, it could be because of corrosion. Too much exposure to saltwater results in the corrosion of a baitcasting reel. Another problem could be caused by over-lubrication. Over lubrication causes the bearings to clog, and the drag may stop working.

How to Fix

To fix a drag that is not working, first, you need to adjust the drag. To do this, you need to understand the drag adjustment. Make sure your drag is set correctly before you start to fish since making adjustments while fishing can cause damages. Check whether the line is too loose or tight.

Next, clean the baitcaster thoroughly and lubricate it. However, make sure you do not over-lubricate it. Use the manufacturer’s directions to avoid over-lubrication.

Baitcaster Drag Slipping

When the drag is slipping, you will be cranking in the handle and spin, but the line will not be pulled in. The drag washers could have accumulated excess dirt, or they could have been worn out. The slipping could also be caused by the braid slipping on the spool if it is not secured with backing or a missing drag stack washer.

How to Fix

To fix the issue on the baitcasting drag slipping, the first thing you need to check is the setting of the drag. If it’s properly set, then it could be slipping because of the accumulated dirt. Make a point of thoroughly cleaning it. After you’ve cleaned it, make sure to grease it and avoid putting in so much grease.

After this, and the slipping still persists, you can make a point of changing the line if you are using a braided line change a into monofilament or fluorocarbon material. Additionally, avoid putting a lot of downward strain on the drive train to test the drag.

Baitcaster Drag won’t Tighten.

Sometimes, the baitcaster drag won’t tighten sufficiently. If you are using a braided line, then it could be the reason. Alternatively, it could be because the drag has accumulated too much dirt.

How to Fix

If your baitcaster drag won’t tighten, the first thing you ought to do is disassemble the baitcasting reel, take the handle off, remove the drag washers and clean the drag washers thoroughly. Then, put a small amount of reel oil on the washers, which will eliminate the problem.

If you are using a braided line, you could switch to a monofilament or start with a mono a few rounds and then the surgeon knot your braid on it.

Baitcaster Spool Tension Knob not Working

When the baitcaster spool tension knob is not working, you cannot control your spool. The problem could be in the spring or brass insert. First, check if the baitcasting reel has a brass insert and make sure the spool is centred. Then, check whether the square fibre shim and black rubber shim are there.

How to Fix

First, make sure the coils fit into each other when the spring is compressed to fix this issue. The spring should be tightly coiled at the end. To ensure the spool is centred, back the tension control knob out and tighten the other side till it clicks. If the black rubber shim and square fibre shim are there, turn the shim over, which will solve the problem.

Final Thoughts

Whether you own the best-rated baitcasting reel or the most expensive reel, for that matter, you need to take good care of it to avoid encountering the common baitcasting problems. Most of these problems can be handled by the angler or a professional, while others require you to change your reel. However, before you opt for another reel, seek a second opinion from the manufacturers or brand and check the entire baitcasting reel.


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