With my forced layup I,ve been sorting through some of my gear and decided to give a couple of reels a quick bearing service.
I know that from time to time the question crops up of how do I ‘tune’ my reel for fishing. It’s no dark art and any angler using a multiplier should be capable of a ‘fishing’ tune for their reel or reels.
I,ll run through how I tune mine so that they run silky smooth and also safe enough for fishing. Not looking for minutes and minutes of spool running time from a fishing reel, it would just be uncontrollable, you need a reel that gives enough line to not be dragging the lead out of the sky but not so much that the reel over-runs. In other words delivering line at the rate it is needed without the lead having to demand it.
I,ve gone for showing you two of the most popular reels we see on our beaches the Abu 6500 Blue Yonder or Blue Elite as it used to be and the Penn 525 mag.
To be honest from seeing how to do these reels you should be able to then manage any or at least most of the others out there as most are basically the same in construction and design anyway.
As for tools, not a lot needed only appropriate sized screwdrivers. We won,t be venturing inside the gear end of the reel so there is no need for any spanners or other special tools.
Unless you are confident in reading the schematic diagrams and confident in being able to re-assemble the gears stay out of that end and get it serviced once a year by some competent.
The other things that you will need are some lighter fluid, some oil, I use the TG range and for fishing reels Red label Rocket Fuel is what I use and it hasn?t let me down yet, some kitchen towel and a small clean container to put the lighter fluid into to flush the bearings out.
ABU 6500 FISHING TUNE.
I’ll start with the Abu 6500. This is the newer non-mag Abu reel and despite not having the mags it is still a great little fishing reel as far Abu,s go I,m no longer a big Abu fan as I feel they could do with moving on a little from some of their design features that in today,s market are just dated, but that is another story!
This reel relies on the centrifugal braking system employing small plastic blocks that apply friction to a ring inside the reel during the cast. As the reel spins up the blocks are flung out against the ring and the friction slows the spool down.
As the cast progresses the spool slows and the braking effect reduces. I find that with a ,blocked, reel you have to find a compromise.
You want a reel that you can cast in good back wind conditions, running fast enough but not too fast that should big baits or head winds be encountered, the reel blows up on you. I like my reels to be on the slower side not right on the edge, that way I might lose 5yds or so but I know I,ll have a bait in the water fishing. The tournament field is the place for reels on the edge not the beach.
The older Abu reels used the small fibre blocks on two pins, the new reels employ six plastic blocks on a carrier so although looking a bit clumsy they do offer a greater degree of braking options.
So we have no magnets to slow the reel down but we do have blocks and the choice of oil in the bearings to ‘tune’ the reel. The oil ‘tuning’ is simply down to the viscosity of the oil, the thicker the oil the slower the bearing will run.
The reel ‘scientists’ out there will shout that there is way more to the way the oil works, such as temperature tolerance etc, but keeping it simple it,s about thick oil = slow running bearings, thin oil= fast running bearings.
The starting point for sorting this reel out is to loosen the three knurled screws that are located at the gear (handle) side of the reel. These screws do not come out of the side plate they self retain so at least you can,t lose them.
Once undone carefully lift the gear end of the reel, spindle and spool out of the cage. Set aside the opposite end plate and cage, they can be cleaned a little later.
The spool can now be removed from the spindle and also pull the spindle out of the drive pinion gear, set aside the gear end of reel and the spindle.
Looking at the spool you will now see a white plastic cog at one end and at the other is the brake block carrier which incorporates the drive dog.
The plastic cog is for the ratchet, I usually take them out and fit a speed bullet but on this reel it is as per how the reel comes from the factory.
Take a look at the brake block carrier, notice that it sits in place one way up, you can see a gap under the pin where one of the blocks has been removed. If you get the carrier the wrong way up and re-assemble the blocks will not move freely and so won,t work. I,ve removed some of the white plastic brake blocks on my reel here, they simply pull off.
To make sure they are in position to work they need to able to move in and out on the pin, the blocks can be clicked in so they are still on the carrier but not working, thus giving you the choice of having 1 to 6 blocks effective.
I?ve removed a couple because I,ve found that on odd occasions the blocks have engaged when I didn,t want all of them to do so, perhaps down to me not clicking them in properly but with them removed that can?t happen.
I wouldn?t recommend that you remove any though until you are sure you have got the reel right for all conditions, nothing worse than finding yourself on the beach in a howling Easterly and not being able to cast because the reel keeps blowing up, if the blocks are left in it is easy to undo the gear end and unclip any blocks not already unclipped but if they are not there then it might be game over.
Now that we have the spool out of the reel wipe the rim of the spool to make sure there is no build up of dirt, the spools can easily start to ‘fur’ up with corrosion which would lead to an unbalanced spool in the end.
We now need to get at the bearings so that we can flush them out. The Abu reels come from the factory with protective light grease in the bearings, we need to replace that with our chosen oil.
At the white cog end carefully pull the cog out of the spool , it will unclip easily, set that aside safe so you don,t lose it. Having removed the cog you will see the bearing sat inside the spool. Sometimes the bearing will come out easily with just a light tap into your hand, if not don?t worry we,ll go to the other side and remove it later.
At the opposite end of the spool using a flat blade screwdriver carefully lift the brake block carrier up off the spool and set it aside with the plastic cog.
If the bearings don,t tap out I just use the spindle to carefully push each bearing out of the spool. Be careful at the brake block end as under the bearing there is a small copper washer that sits under the bearing, it often comes out lightly stuck to the bearing, set the washer aside with the other parts.
We now have to use the lighter fluid and the small container, put enough lighter fluid into the container to cover the bearings and pop the bearings into the liquid.
Give the bearings the odd shake and leave to soak for a good few minutes so that the lighter fluid dissolves any old oil or grease that is in the bearings.
Use lighter fluid not unleaded petrol, there is a possibility that the petrol may contain certain minerals in the solution that could damage the surface of the bearing.
The other important thing to remember is don?t be tempted to spin up the bearing after soaking it, the bearing will be running dry and we all know that lube is better than dry ! You will damage the surface finish of a steel bearing by spinning it dry, ceramic bearings are different but there is no place for them in a fishing reel anyway.
After soaking the bearings and giving them a few shakes lift them out onto a clean piece of kitchen towel. The towel will draw the remaining fluid out of the bearing.
If your central heating is on you can stand the bearings onto of a radiator as well to warm them slightly and make sure the fluid has all evaporated.
Don?t rush in and put oil into the bearing until you are sure all the lighter fluid is out or the oil will be contaminated before you even get to use the reel! Once you are sure the bearing is dry it,s time to put some oil into the bearing. It really is worth spending a couple of quid on some specific reel oil such as the Tg range, the small bottle will last you a good while and it is made for the job as already mentioned.
I leave the bearings on the kitchen towel and carefully put a drop of oil onto the top face of the bearing, leave it a minute or so the flip the bearing over and drop another drop or two onto the other face.
At this point I put the bearing onto the spindle and give it a few turns to distribute the oil through the bearing. Then back onto the kitchen towel for the excess to be drawn onto the towel.
Repeat this for both bearings and then it is time to re-assemble the reel. I give the reel cage and plates a wipe down with a light oiled cloth or kitchen towel and check over for cracks or loose parts, better find them now than when down on the beach !
The re- assembly is simply the reverse of what you did to get to the bearings, so first put the copper washer back into the end of the spool that has the two slots in it, then drop the bearing back in (they are both the same so don,t worry about which one went where).
Now you have to decide how many brake blocks to have unclipped. It can vary a lot from reel to reel depending how the bearings run. With all six unclipped and with red label oil in the bearings the reel will be slow for most anglers but if you are just starting out with a multiplier go down that route, you can always clip a block up one at a time as you get used to casting a multiplier.
I?ve got away with two blocks in good summer conditions but now winter is here I fish with four blocks working. The reels still gives me very good fishing distances but is as safe as houses just what I want, time wasted changing reels or sorting out blow ups costs you fish in a match.
So once the number of blocks you need is set next replace the block carrier, remember which way it goes , you need to make sure it is fitted with a gap between the blocks and the spool when the carrier is clicked in place.
Once that is back on flip the spool round and fit the other bearing into the spool, then click the plastic ratchet cog back into the spool, it is only a light fit so don,t be surprised how easily it goes back in place. I like to wipe the spindle clean and make sure the inside of both end plates and cage is clean before the final re-assembly.
The last stage is to fit the spindle into the gear end, it clicks into the drive pinion if you push it firmly in you will feel it ‘snap’ into place.
Then slide the spool onto the spindle, it should sit tight to the chrome ring you see on the inside of the gear end. That ring is what the brake blocks fly out against during the cast, so it is important that you make sure the blocks are free to move but are not so far out that they foul on that ring or you may damage the brake carrier when you finally put the cage together.
After ensuring all is good with the spool take the cage and non gear end plate and re-fit together, you need to make sure that the cage is engaging in the right position, the spool release button being your reference mark.
Then lastly carefully tighten the three end cap knurled screws, there is no need to swing on them just a firm nip up, they are easily damaged if you go too mad tightening them.
The only thing left to do is to centralise the spool in the cage using the end play adjustment nuts at either side, the spool should sit centrally and there should be just the slightest amount of free play say ? a millimetre, that?s all but there should be a small amount, no play will mean stress on the spindle and the bearings. Forget using those nuts as a ?manual? brake, the reel braking for beachcasting comes from the oil and blocks.
The only other thing to mention is don?t over-fill the spool with line, this spool is as full as you would ever need to go on a 6500 for fishing unless your surname is Moeskops!
PENN 525 mag FISHING TUNE.
Now for the Penn 525 mag., there is a little bit more to getting into the Penn but still nothing difficult or to be scared of. Tools are just the same, just make sure you have a very small flat blade screwdriver as one of the screws is very small.
The first step is to start at the opposite end than you did with the Abu. The access for the Penn is via the non geared end (the end plate without the handle).
There are three screws to remove, notice that there are two screws longer than the third. The two long screws are the ones that fit into the cross bars of the reel, the shorter one going into the bottom screw hole.
Set the screws aside safe and remove the metal trim ring and put that with the screws. Next you will see a small grub screw that holds the end plate in place, this is where the fine bladed screwdriver is needed so that you don?t damage the plastic around the screw. Once that screw is removed the end plate should part from the reel, you may need to gently prise the end plate away with the small screwdriver.
Looking at the end plate inside you will see the magnets in their carrier, no need to touch them.
The spool should now slide out along with the spindle. Set the spindle aside and now let,s look at the two ends of the spool. As with the Abu at one end there is a white plastic cog for the ratchet.
At the other end there is a round metal washer with two teeth, that is the drive dog. There are no centrifugal brake blocks on the Penn.
The plastic cog will lift with the gentle aid of a screwdriver, once removed you will see the bearing. At the other end the drive dog is held in place with a split ring clip. Carefully remove that with a screwdriver or fingernail, be careful that it doesn,t fly off as springs are always hard to find once dropped. After removing the spring the drive dog will lift off again revealing the bearing.
Tap out the bearings and again they need to go into a fresh solution of lighter fluid. Fresh fluid for each set of bearings, no point in even bothering taking the reel to bits if you are going to introduce dirt into the bearings by using dirty oil laden fluid !
There is another bearing that also needs to be removed and cleaned/oiled, that bearing is located in the end cap under the brass bush that is in the centre of the cap. That brass bush will come out with a little gentle persuasion and the bearing is inside that bush.
Again drop the bearing into the lighter fluid and leave to soak with the odd shake. Don?t worry about which bearing is which, looking at them you can see that the centre bore of two of the bearings are the same, the third being different. The different one is the one from the end cap the other two the spool bearings.
Follow the same steps as for the Abu regarding oiling the bearings. One thing to note is that after applying fresh oil to the Penn they can sometimes be noisy for a few casts until the excess oil is flung around the bearing, don,t worry it will settle down after a few casts.
So the bearings are oiled, re-assembly next, again give the reel cage a good wipe down and check for damage or loose parts before re-assembling the reel.
Re-fit the bearings into either end of the spool and also pop the end cap bearing into the brass bush. The white plastic cog just pushes back on the non drive end of the spool, make sure that the slots on the cog are placed in between the slots on the spool otherwise it won,t push on.
Then carefully sit the brass bush into the aperture in the end cap and firmly press it back into the end cap.
At the drive end of the spool, bearing first then drive dog, then spring clip. Lastly re-fit the spindle into the drive pinion, slide the spool onto the spindle and then offer up the end cap.
The holes need lining up and then re-fit the small grub screw, don?t swing on it, it is only holding the end plate in place until you re-fit the main screws.
In fact on a few older reels the cages were cracking where that screw fits and so a lot of people left them out to prevent that happening. Next on with the metal trim, I bet a few forget that until after the three screws are in! I still do every now and then and I?ve stripped my 525?s dozens of times.
Again set the spool centrally and make sure there is just the slightest free play and there you go job done.
So now anyone should be able to have a multiplier reel that behaves on the beach, forget using your thumb to control the spool, the reel will behave, on the Penn you can always dial in more magnet control, start with full mags and back off until line just lifts during the cast then add a click back on.
That should see you right. With the Abu you might need to add or take off a block or two but once safe it will only need a clean and re-oil once during the season unless you drop it in the drink!