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Hot Rod That Fishing Reel!

By Kastking | 22 January 2018 | 0 Comments

Here’s a detailed look at how to improve the performance of your fishing reel.

 

 

Back in the day of super cars, wonderful mechanical beasts had powerful eight-cylinder engines. Auto-enthusiasts were always looking for a way to improve them.

 

At first it was all about improving performance. Depending on what part of the driveline was being worked on, it was often a case of getting more slip to reduce friction and increase speed, or more grip, which delivered more power at the wheels. Durability, particularly in harsh operating environments such as off-road racing, often took a second place to speed. Racers began to realize being around for the finish after a grueling race was an important part of the performance equation.  Eventually, wiser heads prevailed. As speeds increased, “safety, reliability, and then speed,” became the mantra of racecar builders.

 

What does this have to do with fishing? The same rules of physics, and mechanics, apply whether it’s a fishing reel or a racecar.  In the interest of keeping production costs down and profits up, fishing reel manufacturers often use less than optimum components in quality and quality.  You can upgrade your reel’s performance and durability by changing parts and making tuning tweaks. If you’ve had your reel apart to clean and lube it, you likely have the necessary skills to do upgrades and part changes. You will be best served if you have your reel’s schematic on hand (available on-line as a downloadable printout), a clean uncluttered workspace, and good lighting. It can also be helpful to take pictures as you progress for a point of reference.  Use common sense and lay out your parts in the order you remove them, and always use the same direction for laying them out and all facing in the same direction they were in the reel – facing down on the workbench is the same as facing down in the reel. Work on a cookie sheet with a turned up edge to keep small parts from rolling off into oblivion.

 

Fishing reels, carbon fiber drag, www.eposeidon.com

Fishing reels such as this Ecooda ERS come equipped with high-performance parts as standard equipment

 

 

Here are areas that you can make do-it-yourself improvements to soup up your reel.

 

Ball-bearing quantity is a benchmark of a reel’s quality. The number of bearings, where they are located within a reel, and the type of bearing used dictates performance through operating smoothness. Some manufactures use bushings to save costs. That’s not always a bad thing if they are properly aligned and made of the right material. What is not often discussed is quality and type of bearings.

 

It’s All About the Bearings

 

fishing reel, ball-bearings, stainless-steel

Ball bearings come in several types including sealed and sheilded

 

To be useful for fishing applications, and without exception for saltwater, only stainless steel bearings should be used. Even within the world of ball bearings, there are winners and losers. Ball bearings range in quality from just good enough to get the job done to the finest precision made bearings with aerospace tolerances. The size and number of balls within their “races” determines their load carrying capacity. Making high performance ball bearings is an expensive procedure. Heat treating gives the metal balls toughness and wear resistance. Other processes are applied for added strength and hardness. Rounder and smoother balls roll with less friction. Less friction means smoother performance.

 

Enter the king of ball bearings – hybrid ceramics. Ceramic balls are made from inorganic, nonmetallic materials and processed at high temperatures. Compared to metallic balls, along with exact tolerances, ceramic balls are capable of achieving a smoother surface finish (less friction), are much harder, have lighter weight (less startup inertia), are corrosion resistant, and last two to three times longer.

 

Boca, ceramic bearings, baitcasting reel

Boca ceramic bearings installed in a baitcasting reel

 

Ceramic bearings offer smoother operation resulting in longer casts for conventional baitcaster reels. In spinning reels, where there is no rotation in the casting action as line pulls off the spool, a benefit is in the smoothness of the retrieve. Distance casting tournament pros convert their reels to ceramic bearings. That tells you something.

 

All of this adds to expense, which is why fishing reel manufacturers don’t use the more efficient hybrid ceramic bearings as original equipment. They are however, available in the aftermarket for most reels.

 

“The issue,” says Jason Flanzbaum, vice-president of marketing at Boca Bearings based in Boynton Beach, Florida, “does tend to be price. The increased cost takes most reels out of the price point that makes the manufacturers comfortable.

 

Ceramic bearings, fishing reels

Ceramic bearings for fishing reels are available in several quality levels

 

“We have been selling ceramic bearings for 20 years and it is only within the last five or six years that the fishing reel market has latched on to ceramic bearings. We actually do not ever hear any complaints about price anymore… so the market must really see the value. We actually brought out our Ceramic Orange Seal line of bearings to be used in the RC (Radio Controlled) market for RC car wheel bearings. Some random angler posted a free-spool video on Youtube and the sales just took off from there. It has been an amazing market for us. The fishing community is hungry for new technologies and they are very free about sharing tips. We were not use to this because RC can be very tight lipped and competitive.”

 

 

Boca, ceramic bearing, kits, fishing reels

Boca offers ceramic bearing kits for fishing reels

 

 

Boca has hundreds of ceramic bearing kit listings for most popular reels from Abu-Garcia to Zebco in three performance levels. Boca’s ceramic bearing kits take the guess work out of measuring your bearings.  Bocabearings.com has a search feature to match your model to the right kit. They also sell individual bearings by size. Bearings only need to be classified by size, not the OEM reel’s manufacturer, to fit. For example, a 7 mm x 13 mm x 4 mm bearing fits a Shimano Stradic FJ and any other reel that uses that size regardless of brand. Their customer service department is helpful about finding bearings not listed. Side plate and bail bearings are very easy to change; pinion shaft bearings are a bit more involved.  It depends on your reel.

 

Boca Bearings, began in a bedroom in 1987 and now fills a 15,000 square foot warehouse to the brim with specialty ball bearings. “We ship on average 3000 orders a month. Roughly half of those are brand new retail customers and almost 60% of those new retail customers are fishing reel bearing customers,” Flanzbaum confirmed.  Much of that growth has come through customer service and support. “We are a family business that really specializes in supporting mom and pop businesses as well as youth education programs. We stand behind the product 100% and have a no questions asked return policy.”

 

Flanzbaum gives three reasons an angler should switch to ceramic bearings, “Longer casting, less effort, longer life.” What’s more – ceramics are relatively maintenance free. Lubrication is optional.  “We always recommend using a small amount of lube. Ceramic hybrids can be noisy if used dry and the small amount of lube helps to quiet them down. Otherwise the bearings can be run dry,” says Gareth Burrows, Marketing Manager at Boca Bearings. While ceramic bearings do not need any lubrication to operate, the steel races will last longer if they have a slight amount of lube on a regular basis.

 

A Controlled Skid

 

fishing reel, carbon fiber, drag washers

Carbon fiber drag washers for fishing reels

 

Fishing reel drag washers offer controlled slip.  Carbon fiber brake rotors are used on ultra-performance racecars (and aircraft) including dragsters, Indy Cars, and Formula One where operating temperatures are blistering. They are light weight and don’t fade when hot. In drag washers we want stopping power (clamping pressure) with a controlled degree of slip. Overcoming clamping pressure (drag) is called overcoming startup inertia (the force needed to start turning).  Smoothness in a reel’s drag comes from its ability to overcome startup inertia . It’s the same as slipping the clutch in a standard shift car. Too much pull required to overcome the drag results in snapped lines and lost fish. Common fiber drags flex at the moment of startup and compress under clamping pressure (also increasing startup inertia), which squeezes out their lubrication. Carbon drag washers do not flex or compress.

 

Today’s braided lines put more load on drag washers. Increased line strength of braided for its size can demand more drag power. Carbon fiber drags, being more efficient, will increase the amount of total available drag (pounds) in a reel. The good news is, upgrading to carbon is an easy upgrade.

 

Heat is an enemy of drag washers. Temperatures rise as friction increases, which changes the amount of drag while fighting a fish. If what started off in a fish-fight was a smooth singing fiber drag that changes to a chugging, grabbing feeling – it could be from heat.

 

 

Carbontex, carbon fiber, drag washers, fishing reel

Carbontex offers carbon fiber drag washer kits for almost any fishing reel

 

 

“Carbon drags have been considered the best for a long time,” says Dawn Geider, CEO at Smooth Drag, in Oak Hills California, makers of Carbontex carbon fiber drag washers. “When carbon fiber technology began in the early 80’s, it was too expensive and too brittle for use as drag washers. In the early 2000’s a new formula was developed for carbon fiber making it usable and affordable. Temperature is irrelevant with carbon drags and even if immersed they’re unaffected.”

 

Carbon washers can be run dry or lubricated. If lubed, only a micro-thin layer, just enough to leave a finger print, of quality drag grease such as Cal’s Drag Grease should be used. Cal’s contains PTFE (Teflon) and polymers specific for the needs of drag washers. They also offer a cold-climate, lighter blend.  For a little more grip and a little less slip you can fine tune this further by running one drag washer dry and the others lubed.

 

Replacement carbon washers are available on-line.   Smooth Drag has a vast inventory covering most popular fishing reels. “If you don’t see your reel listed,” says Geider, “give us a call and ask. From experience we sometimes know what drags are the same size as used by another brand, or just haven’t been posted yet. You can also measure your washers and call with the sizes, we can go from there. If all else fails, send us your washers and we can match them up.”  All sourcing and cutting of Smooth Drag’s carbon fiber is done in the US.

 

kastking, carbon fiber, spinning reel, fishing reel, www.eposeidon.com

KastKing Triton Spinning Fishing Reel

 

 

“We have seen many positive aspects of carbon drag washers,” says Tate Cui, CEO at Eposeidon, Inc. which produces KastKing reels and is the North American distributor for Ecooda reels. “They add a lot of value to a reel. Most of our spinning reel products in our KastKing and Ecooda brands are equipped with carbon fiber drags. It is worth it for the consumer to purchase a reel with carbon drags as an original equipment feature. In late 2014 and early 2015 we are adding several baitcaster models with carbon fiber drags.”

 

 

fishing reel, metal drag washers, cals grease, compatible, otherfishing reel, lubricant

Polish the metal drag washers (left) to reveal high spots. Cal’s grease is compatible with all other lubricants

 

 

Another tune-up trick for drags is to polish the metal drag washers. This has the same effect as a machinist truing a brake rotor or flywheel on a lathe. A tiny improvement, but for super slick drag response it is worth the effort. Tape 400 grit emery cloth to a piece of flat glass – old window glass works fine. Make sure the washers are squeaky clean and free of all grease and oil. Use denatured alcohol, brake cleaner, or mineral spirits. Rub the washer on the emery cloth for a few passes. Even on expensive reels you will quickly see shiny high spots appear and darker low spots. This shows cupping in the washer. This happens in the stamping process in making the washers. Flat ground washers that run true are hard to find but are superior. Cupped washers do not distribute clamping pressure evenly. If the washer is badly cupped, it’s time to order replacements. Continue polishing on the 400 grit and finish the job on 600 grit until mirror smooth. Rinse with denatured alcohol or residue free solvent.

 

Slick and Slicker

 

Anything that has moving parts creates friction. Machining tolerances, exact parts alignment and low resistance materials can work to reduce friction. Even with everything done right, a lubricant is necessary for a number of reasons. Lubricants (grease for gears and oil for bearings) play a role depending on the application. There are many, but the most important to fishing reels, in addition to smooth operation by decreasing friction, include load bearing (pressure), anti-rust, and anti-corrosion. Additives are mixed with a base oil to get these properties.

 

Petroleum based oils made from deceased dinosaurs have been left behind by technology. New synthetic oils can far outperform what your granddad used on his reel. Lithium (white) grease, once the “go to’’ lube for anglers, can cake or wash away. In its basic form it doesn’t have the aforementioned qualities of anti-corrosion.

 

Often deemed as saltwater safe, stainless steel will pit from galvanic action in saltwater. Chlorides in sea water accelerate pitting through autocatalytic process. After fishing in saltwater the initial best bet for reducing corrosion is to rinse all gear with freshwater. Application of corrosion inhibitors is good added insurance.  Do not use “wire drying” type sprays since most are also effective cleaners. If it gets inside the reel it can break down lubricants.

 

Super Lube, grease, fishing reel, lube, lubricant,

Super Lube grease repels saltwater

 

PTFE, (a.k.a Dupont’s trade name Teflon) the same stuff that keeps food from sticking to nonstick pans can be added to lubricants to greatly increase their friction reducing capabilities.  It is one of the slipperiest substances known to man. Super Lube, a product of Synco ChemicalCorporation in Bohemia, New York holds the patent that uniformly suspends 5 micron (human red blood cells are 5 – 10 microns thick) PTFE particles in a clear synthetic lubricant base. Super Lube’s qualities were extraordinary enough to receive an endorsement from Rolex watches to use as a lubricant in their timepieces.

 

 

super lube, fishing reel, lube, grease, oil, sportsmans kit

Super Lube offers a convenient Sportsman’s Kit

 

“Even metal has microscopic surface pores,” says Bill Reilly, General Manager at Super Lube. “If you look at metal’s surface under a microscope, it would appear like the surface of a sidewalk. Quite rough, actually. The PTFE particles in Super Lube fill these voids, much the same way a dentist fills a cavity in a tooth. Interestingly, the more pressure that is applied, the more the particles are ‘ironed-in’. Even if the base lubricant squeezes out, the lubrication of the PTFE stays in place. These PTFE particles are like sponge and hold the anticorrosion additives and others in place. We’ve put these all in a mineral oil base to make it affordable to the average user. It’s compatible with all other lubes and is safe on anything. It’s food-grade and non-polluting, so, it won’t harm the environment.”

 

In addition to PTFE, Synco also adds anti-corrosion, anti-rust, extreme pressure and anti-wear chemicals to their products. Reilly continues, “Super Lube was originally developed for the marine industry.  The grease is perfect for a reel’s gears and slides. It doesn’t wash out and it repels saltwater and grit. Although, in Super Lube’s oil, the carrier oil is a little too heavy for the ball bearings in the side plate of a baitcaster. It will slow down the rotation and cut casting distance. It’s better to use ultra-light oil there.” Super Lube grease is also excellent to coat screw threads with before reassembly to prevent screws from seizing (especially in dissimilar metals), which can lead to stripped screw heads.

 

Corrosion Technologies Corporation, manufacturers of CorrosionX products in Dallas, Texas offers a product called ReelX that fits that need for lightweight bearing oil. In addition to outstanding lubricating abilities, it offers excellent saltwater protection. ReelX is rated at 0.31 mm for anti-wear performance. A standard lubricating oil of the same viscosity would yield a value of 1.0 – 1.2 mm. The lower the number, the more slippery it is. And, Corrosion Technologies has oils that are even slicker.

 

CorrosionX, prevents, fishing reel, corrosion

CorrosionX utilizes a revolutionary technology called Polar Bonding

 

 

ReelX leans to a high lubricity coefficient in friction tests,” says Corrosion Technology Corporation’s president, Fred Kenner. His oils use a different method than Super Lube in getting, and keeping, the slipperiness where it counts.

 

“It’s about polar bonding.  Our lubrication and anti-corrosion products are formulated with a positive electronic charge. Metals have positive and negative charges. The positive charge in the oil bonds to the negative charge in the metal, much the same way the attracting poles in a magnet work.

 

“Polar bonding is why it won’t wash off or rub off in marine applications. Once it’s applied it’s part of the metal. It won’t come off,” Kenner stated with confidence.

Reel X, lubrication, fishing reel, bearings

Reel X offers fantastic lubrication for fishing reel bearings

 

CorrosionX (the company’s original product) anti-corrosion properties are the foundation of the company’s success. Those properties of the products were developed years ago for aircraft maintenance. It is sprayed in blind areas inside the wings of aircraft where the polar bonding ability attaches itself to the metals. The positive charge particles leapfrog over the positive particles in the metal and adhere to the negative particles. It continues this leapfrogging action to areas that could not otherwise be seen or serviced. “A few days after application, you’ll see it weeping out around the wing rivets,” says Kenner. “That shows that it creeps through that advancing action and penetrates through even the tightest spaces.” It is used extensively by the military for corrosion prevention and control on airframes, and now, for general purpose use as well.

 

In fishing applications, where exposure to water occurs through mist, splash, or dunking, corrosion resistance is crucial in maintaining a reel and keeping it in top condition. Oils normally used for lubrication are displaced by moisture. All CorrosionX oils release the surface tension of moisture and displace it.

 

ReelX resisted saltwater spray in testing for 62 hours (much longer than the average fishing trip) while CorrosionX, with slightly different properties, withstood salt spray for 96 hours.

 

For the ultimate protection within a reel’s body cavity there’s CorrosionX HD. It’s a nice item to coat your reel’s innards with. After 2,000 hours (almost three months) of salt spray and humidity testing the panels treated with CorrosionX HD were pulled from both the salt spray and humidity cabinets with no sign of rust. “It’s a much thicker base and will hold in place without running. It does have the same polar bonding properties and will adhere to the metal in the same way,” adds Kenner.  The company does not make a thickened tubed gear-type grease.

 

If all of this doesn’t give your fishing reel enough slip, they have a product called SpeedX.  When Kenner was asked why it wasn’t offered as a fishing reel lubricant he replied, “It’s overkill. It’s like being happy. How much happier do you need to be? SpeedX is off the charts for lubricity.  Although SpeedX is very slippery, it’s also expensive to make. It gets a little cost prohibitive for the buyer. We may look at a blend based on SpeedX for fishing reel applications in the future. It’s a possibility.”

 

Their other lubricant’s numbers pale in comparison to their own SpeedX product. The anti-wear rating of SpeedX is a mere 0.28 mm, its Friction Coefficient  is less than .003 (the lowest coefficient of friction measurable on metal-to-metal surfaces) in Corrosion Protection Humidity Cabinet testing it survived for 1320 hours, and like CorrosionX, it holds up in 96 hours of saltwater spray.  At one drop per bearing, it could be well worth the cost.

 

Given that their oils don’t harm plastics, PTFE, or monofilament, you can add them to fishing reels with plastic gears, or packed with PTFE grease, and you’ll be okay.

 

Boca Bearings also offers a line of molecular-bonding lubricants. “None of our lube contains PTFE,” Burrows says. Their Lightning Lube Bearing Pre Soak, forms a molecular bond (similar to CorrosionX) with all moving metal parts before assembly, decreasing wear and extending life. It fills in the pores, pits and gaps typically found in chrome or stainless. Boca’s Reel Power lube product provides a thin film coating to improve performance and reduce corrosion.  It can be used in addition to the pre-soak or by itself. The external packaging looks similar; the difference is what’s in the mix. Burrows adds, “The two products have the same base oil with different additives for each application.”

 

Boca also offers their High Speed Oil Lightning Lube, which comes in a 12cc syringe, making it easy to apply a dot to tiny ball bearings that require very thin, lightweight oil.

 

Your fishing reel may be fine, but it’s all about taking a good reel, and making it better. No matter how good your reel is – it will always require maintenance.

 

–  Excerpt from author Tom Gahan’s upcoming book, Tales of the Frugal Fisherman ©

 

ABOUT EPOSEIDON:

 

Eposeidon (www.eposeidon.com ) is an e-commerce company (Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc.) that brings a fresh, innovative approach to anglers by offering quality fishing tackle products at the best prices and no cost, or low cost shipping. Eposeidon’s goal is to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service and superior product value to their customers. Eposeidon is continually expanding its product lines, which include KastKing™ fishing line, fishing reels, and fishing rods, MadBite fishing lures, Ecooda reels, and other fishing tackle products, to meet individual fishing equipment needs. Eposeidon is headquartered in Garden City, NY, USA and sells fishing tackle products globally. Eposeidon is the sole North American Distributor for Ecooda fishing reels.

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