How to Fix a Jammed Reel


Jammed fishing reels occur when the line is wrapped with unevenly distributed tension. The line wraps cross on the spool and the line cinches on itself. Reels also jam when foreign objects are introduced to the gears and bearings. Fixing the reel requires locating the jam and determining the most efficient method of removing the jam. Fixing a jam while a fish is engaging the reel is not reasonable: you'll have to cut the line.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Line clippers
  • Reel lubricant
  • Remove the reel cap on spincast reels by twisting counterclockwise. Remove the housing on baitcast reels by unscrewing the two housing screws with a Phillips screwdriver.

  • Examine the line to determine if there are overlaps, uneven wraps, causing the jam. Jammed line will show uneven tension on the reel, and the line will flex at the jammed point when you try to pull it off the reel.

  • Cut the line at the jam and attempt to unravel the freed portion from the reel. If you quickly encounter another jam, repeat the process. If the line continues to jam every several feet, replace the entire line. Wear points on old lines will catch and prevent the line from spinning smoothly off the reel.

  • Inspect the gears on the reel if the line is not overlapping but still jamming. Lift the entire spool out of the housing on spincast and baitcast models. Unscrew the top of a spinning reel by turning the drag knob counterclockwise, and lift the entire spool and reel assembly out of the housing. Inspect the gears for rocks, sand and other foreign objects.

  • Rinse the entire assembly with fresh water to clear the jam. Reassenble the parts and test the reel. If it continues to jam, look for rust spots on the gears and add a drop of reel lubricant to fix the problem. Do not over-lubricate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Maintain your reels by washing away salt water and dirt after each trip. Also add lubricant on a regular basis to increase the performance. Jammed reels are typically a result of poor maintenance.

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