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How to Fix a Fishing Reel That Won’t Lock [Guide to Everything]

One of the common issues anglers face with their fishing reel is its locking feature. You should know at this point though that locking issues often come up mostly with cheap reels; you rarely encounter locking challenges with top-quality reels.

So, what does that tell you? If you’re going to enjoy your fishing experience, it’s only wise to purchase a top-quality reel and save yourself undue stress. I mean how frustrating would it be to catch a fish but since your reel won’t lock, reeling in your catch poses a huge challenge.

Now, the deed is done. You are having an issue with your fishing reel as it won’t lock anymore; let’s not bemoan the problem and rather get you started on how to fix it. But then, to fix a problem, you will need to know the source or cause of the problem, lest you’re not any different from two perfect eyes searching for a pen in the dark.

What are the Possible Sources of Fishing Reel with Locking Issues?

Below are the probable causes of your fishing reel finding it difficult to lock:

  • Defected bail wire or broken spool
  • Malfunctioning of the Drag system
  • Issues with the Anti-reverse system
  • Line issues

What are the Solutions to these Problems?

Fix a Fishing Reel

Defected Bail Wire or Broken Spool

If your spool is bent, rusted, or damaged, you’re bound to experience locking issues with the reel. Sub-items of this part, such as faulty springs, can lead to the same problem. How do you fix the issue?

First off, get a small screwdriver and pliers ready for the work. You will also need replacement parts if you find anything defective, but that will have to wait until you find out what part you have to purchase. Then, follow the following steps:

  1. Remove the screw(s) on the side of the pivoting arm that keeps the bail wire in place. While at it, inspect and ascertain that the screw(s) are still in good condition; otherwise, you should replace them to be safe.
  2. You can inspect your now exposed bail wire for damage signs. You can remove the bail wire and do a thorough inspection. What are you looking for? Rust or any form of corrosion, bends, snaps, etc. Replace any damage.
  3. But should your bail wire be in a good state, move to the line roller. How? Unscrew the line roller and give it a thorough inspection. If in poor shape, replace it.
  4. Your next stop is the springs. Remove the spring from the side of the pivoting bail arm for inspection. The springs are the sturdiest part of a reel; any damage to the spring is bound to lead to a problem with locking. So, ensure it’s not broken, rusted, damaged, or bent. In changing the springs, make sure the replacement is identical if you want to maintain proper functioning.

Malfunctioning of the Drag System

When your hook catches a fish and it pulls the line to escape, the drag system prevents breakage and simultaneously creating resistance to weaken the fish’s flight. When the fish pulls the line, the drag system prevents the line from pulling out freely. You will be experiencing locking problems if there’s a malfunction with this feature.

Fixing a drag system issue may be tricky, especially for a saltwater user and who does not clean their fishing reel regularly. If you think the drag system is the issue, the first thing to do is set it properly. You can have locking issues on low settings; the line will reel off too quickly and easily.

If the above pointers are not the issues, the drag itself may be the problem. By that, I mean any of its components could be damaged. Having to expose the inner components (the spring and its clip, the washers, fiber) of the drag for inspection may pose a bit of a challenge. After you must have carefully done this, inspect for damage and replace any broken item.

Issues with the Anti-Reverse System

The anti-reverse system is a delicate system with components, such as gears, small springs, and others, that are prone to damage or easy breakage. Faults to the system can cause locking problems for your fishing reel.

fishing reel Anti-Reverse system

The feature functions to prevent the turning backward of the reel while engaging the drag. In that case, you know you’ll be dealing with a lot of moving parts, posing lots of issues and challenging solutions.

If you have been able to narrow down the possible cause of your locking problem to the anti-reverse system, the best option is to take your reel to a professional. The other option is for you to carefully take it apart, check each piece for damage, replace any damaged item and reassemble the system.

Line Issues

Line issues may seem minor but have enough in them to throw you off your excitement. However, they are easy to detect and solve. You will find below some of the issues you can have with your line.

i. Braided Line Slippage

Although braided lines are known for their durability, they are yet prone to line slips. Since they don’t have a stretching factor, they tangle or slip. Sometimes, the issue is that the line won’t adhere perfectly to the spool. To solve this issue, apply something, such as electrical tape, to back the line and prevent slipping. You can also back with a monofilament line.

ii. Line Twist

Line twist poses as the most common line issues anglers encounter; a primary reason being long-term use. The issue may be caused either by a loose or uneven setup or the need for replacement. The solution is simple as you only need to take off the old line and carefully replace it with a new one. It’s advisable to use a professional machine to ensure the line is tight and evenly dispersed.

iii.Line Size

The wrong size of line can cause problems too. Sometimes, it’s the weight of the line that is too heavy. You only need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to solve this issue.

Final Words

By the time you have read through this article, you should be able to tell what may be wrong with your fishing reel, its challenge in locking in and reeling in your catch; more importantly, hopefully, you can fix it.