While fishing, anglers are likely to experience a variety of equipment problems. This list outlines some of the most common rod and reel problems and their solutions.
Twisted line is one of the most common of all tackle problems. This occurs most often with open-faced spinning reels but can be a problem with any type of reel. Monofilament line is the most commonly used line for freshwater fishing. Monofilament is inexpensive, reliable, and easy to use.
Unfortunately, monofilament lines develop memory. This causes the line to become spiral-shaped like a telephone handset cord. Line that is affected by memory tends to cast poorly, become tangled, and foul easily in the water.
Insufficient line is another source of problems. Low line causes decreased casting distances, tangles, and erratic drag operation. Line should be replaced when it develops memory or when the spool has lost about 15-20% of its capacity.
On conventional bait casting reels, line guide jamming can be a big issue. Line guides are complex systems which move back and forth during casting and retrieval, layering line on the spool evenly. Although vital to the function of many reels, these intricate components are prone to failure. Line guides sometimes jam when debris get into the working mechanisms.
Line guides can sometimes be repaired by the angler, simply by gently washing the reel with a mild detergent, rinsing and lubricating the moving parts of the line guide. If the problem persists, it may need service by a professional.
Sticking or erratic drags can be disastrous when fishing. Drag systems allow a reel spool to slip, releasing line when a fish makes a sudden surge. A stuck or jerky drag can cause the line to fail or pull the hook from a fish’s mouth.
Most drag problems can be solved by simply disassembling the reel, cleaning the parts and reinstalling. Most high quality reels come with a user manual, parts diagram, and lubricant. An exception to this occurs when drag systems have been overheated by hard running fish or have suffered corrosion from saltwater. In these cases, parts must be replaced in order to bring the reel back to peak performance.
Misaligned or damaged rod eyes can be another source of frustration for anglers. Misaligned rod eyes cause drag on the line during casting, which decreases casting distances considerably. A more serious condition occurs when a ceramic eye or rod tip becomes cracked or chipped. A damaged eye will have sharp edges that can damage fishing line.
A simple method for inspecting rod eyes is to pass a Q-tip thru each eye, making sure to cover all the eye surface. Strands of cotton will usually snag if a crack is present, indicating the need for immediate replacement.