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How Long do Fishing Reels Last?

Fishing is becoming a popular pastime for more and more Americans for it provides both leisurely rests as well as active participation. To ensure a smooth fishing experience, you must provide proper maintenance of your fishing gear as well. Keeping that in mind, you might ask-

How long do fishing reels last?

A fishing reel made of quality materials and maintained properly can last for decades. It also depends on how aggressively you are using it. Usually, the reels of rods are priced under $50 last 25 hardcore fishing trips, whereas higher-end rods can last almost 100 to 150 times more.

At the end of it all, it honestly depends on how you use your fishing rod and how well you preserve it. There are bamboo rods that have lasted decades, so there is no reason why yours can’t last as long or even longer as well.

How to make fishing reels last longer?

There are multiple ways you can make your fishing reel and so rod last longer. It is all a variation of keeping the reel clean, lubricated, and maintained. This will help out in the long run.

Wash it off with freshwater

If you continuously fish in saltwater, you increase the chances of rust or ruining your fishing gears. To combat this, you can just rinse your rod and reel it with fresh water. This is one of the top tips given by pro fishing experts.

Properly lubricate

The reel is one of the pieces that move the most in your fishing gear. It is highly advised that you keep it properly lubricated. But only occasionally and never too much. 

Always use recommended lubrication products (reel grease) made especially for fishing rods and reels.

Make sure it is lightweight as well. Lubrication should always be done following manufacturer recommendations.

Check for debris

Occasionally, if you are comfortable with it, take apart the reel and check for debris. If it is clean, great- apply some lubrication and put it back together. If not, brush or wash the debris off, reassemble it, and you are good to go.

Extra tip: If you are new to reassembling a reel, use clean, dry egg cartons (or any other object with multiple compartments) to mark and store the pieces, so they are easy to have access to!

Make proper maintenance a routine, regular thing and watch your reels last longer and perform consistently better in no time.

A few common reasons why fishing reels get damaged

We talked about how you can make it last longer, but what about common occurrences that damage your reels? Here we discuss some common reasons which harm your precious reels. There are two main causes: general use and environmental corrosion.

User error

Reels are intricate gears that need proper disassembling and reassembling. If any step is done mistakenly, it will result in a wonky reel that is understandably damaged and underperforming. 

General use also comes under user error, for how a handler uses it directly impacts how long it can last and the issues it has.


Corrosion is one of the most common reasons why a reel will stop working. After being exposed to water constantly- let it be fresh or salt- unless it is properly dried, the water can and will react with the reel and corrode it.

As mentioned before, rinsing the rod with water and letting it dry is one of the foolproof ways to eliminating the risk of corrosion.

Over or under lubrication

Both are an issue that creates an unstable reel that is more often than not out to get you at the most unfortunate times.

An under-lubricated reel will get stuck and clunk up when trying to fish, while an over-lubricated reel will make it feel too loose and mess up the drag.

Always make sure to use proper grease when oiling up your gears. Make sure to do it in moderation as well. Petroleum jelly, despite being a modern myth, is not a good reel lubricant.

Other reasons include improperly spooled reels, incorrectly set drags, which would lead to reels not being able to cast right, and so ruining a promising day of fishing.

What are some good lubricants for reels?

A good rule of thumb is to use reel grease for parts that have mesh in them, while for parts that rub, the oil should be used. One is a thickening agent, while the other helps the gear to stay in place.

The keyword to remember is lightweight. Premium oils and greases are always a safe bet. Teflon-based oil or grease is recommended as well. 

Also, make sure to use it in moderation and check with the manufacturer.

Do fishing reels wear out?

While unexpected, even fishing reels can wear out. General wear and tear can cause a reel to not work as well as it used to. Common causes include bad materials, improper storing, and subjecting the reel to continuous loading and flexing motions.

While conservation and preservation efforts can prolong the longevity of the reel, once it has worn out, not much can be done about it. You either have to repair it or replace it.

How do you understand fishing reel has worn out?

To an experienced user, a fishing reel wearing out can be felt almost instantly. Years of usage and experience hones your senses so you can figure out if and when something goes wrong.

However, for those uninitiated, there are a few telltale signs. To start with, they are making noises they previously did not. That is to say; a “squawking” sound is not a good sign.

You can also tell a reel is malfunctioning when you can’t cast it as long as you could before.

These are signs that a cleaning- and a thorough one at that, is due before it wears out completely.

Are old fishing reels worth anything?

Certain fishing gears can be taken in as collectors’ items and be worth thousands of dollars. To see if your reel is of value, you have to consider its age, how scarce or rare it is, what quality it is, and what condition it is in.

Also, handmade reels are very valuable as collectibles for their scarcity.

Any reel that was not mass-produced, handmade with high-quality components, and has unusual features is a top pick to be something of worth. If it was made or produced before 1940 or 1950s, the price would become higher.

As long as you make sure you are keeping your fishing gears clean, dry, and properly greased, you can prolong the permanency and durability of your fishing reels and rods. 

Proper maintenance ensures a smoother fishing experience, so it is understandable why you should set some time aside for it.

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