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Understanding spinning reels and best uses

Come on, what needs to be understood there aren't many things more simple to use than a spinning reel. You just open the bail cast, then wind the handle and bring it in when you are ready right?. It is always amusing reading when people start criticizing a spinning reel and as they explain what happened detail the misuse or abuse which is the actual cause of the problem. Most reel problems are user initiated, and most of those can be avoided or negated very easily.

Simple things can make your fishing so much more enjoyable. Tired of wind knots? Bail arm closing on casts? Line twist? Chewed out gearing? Corroded parts? Rough drags? Then read on...

Wind knots
Those nasty bunch of grapes that fly through and catch in the guides of your fishing rod resulting in expensive lures flying away forever are a huge frustration for many. Everything from the line, rods runners and especially the reel are blamed for them. In some cases they may be the culprit but more often than not it is how the fisherman uses the reel. The use of the automatic bail closure contributes heavily to this problem as often it is engaged without any tension on the line introducing a loose loop onto the spool. This problem can be stopped by manual closure and squeezing the line firm with your fingers til some weight comes on the line during the retrieve thus eliminating the loose loops.

Bail arm closures
Everyone loves to spin the handle of a reel and marvel at how many times it goes round on its own. Well that freedom of movement contributes to bails closing prematurely during the cast. That and positioning the handle where gravity and the momentum of the cast will move the handle forward just enough to cause that sickening crack we all hate so much.

Line twist
The three most common avoidable causes of line twist are putting the line on incorrectly when you first spool up, spinning baits and lures, and winding the handle while the drag is moving. When you first spool up your reel wind the line directly from the spool. This in fact introduces twist onto the reel which then unwinds on the cast. Taking the time to ensure baits are straight and dont spin will not only help stop line twist but result in you catching more fish with a now more naturally presented bait. Finally, winding while the spool is spinning is just plain silly as you are actually helping the fish. Solution, don't wind when the fish is taking line and twist should become a distant memory.

Damaged gears
Any reel fished over or to its extreme limits will have a much reduced life. Fishing 50lb braid at high drag on a reel recommended for 12lb is asking for trouble. Higher ratio reels are even more susceptible to damage when winding against pressure than their lower ratio compatriots. Pump and wind, we hear it all the time and for good reason.

Sometimes getting salt and sand in a reel is just unavoidable so it is a smart move to go for a reel that can tolerate such harsh conditions better than many others. Fully sealed reels are rare and expensive however many other reels can be a good alternative if a little care is taken. Beach and kayak work test reels and salt spray and sand can accumulate in sorts of places, particularly on windy days. Sealed drags help, wipe downs are good practice and if after prolonged use or immersion you don't pull your reel down for at least a cleanup you are doing yourself a disservice. Some reels are better than others at handling harsh conditions others can sometimes be helped a little with light smears of Vaseline on potential external points.

Rough drags
Fishing reel drags even new straight out of the box can range from great to very poor. Questionable quality control practices in even higher end models can mean there is foreign matter which can be caught up in the reel, lubricant can be insufficient or even non existent. So don't be surprised if your drag starts to make funny noises, just deal with it yourself or send it back to the manufacturer under warranty. Older reels going the same way sometime just need relubing, other harder worked warriors might need some replacement drag washers. You can help them last a bit longer by adding the occasional drop of oil, wiping any potential sand that might find its way inside and wiping dry or at least allowing to dry out before storing.

With just a bit of TLC you can get years of trouble free fishing from a reasonable spinning reel with little time and effort on your part. Most of these practices become second nature over time and become something you just naturally do.

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