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Volume XVII, Issue 4 - January 22 - January 28, 2009
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Reelsmith Ralph Smith’s tips for keeping your fishing reels in top condition

1. Before rinsing or washing down your reels, set the drag firmly. That will prevent water and salty debris from getting between the drag plates or otherwise into the drag mechanism.

2. After each fishing trip, gently wash down reels with a soft sprinkle of water. Follow with a soapy rag wipe down, then another rinse. Don’t spray the reel forcefully, which can drive salt deposits deeper into crevices and openings, where they will do serious damage.

3. When the reels have dried, do not spray indiscriminately with WD-40. Since WD-40 is a solvent as well as a rust inhibitor, it can cause breakdown of the heavier lubricants in the reel. Spray the WD-40 on a rag, then wipe it on your reel.

4. Use light machine oil (Penn Oil, Reel-X, Reel Butter, Hot Sauce) to lubricate level wind mechanisms, the bail roller on spinning reel, bail pivot, handles and handle knobs.

5. Remove the spool on spinning reels and clean out any debris from the reel’s inner body, especially any sand or salt deposits. Put just a drop of oil on the spool shaft before re-installing the spool.

6. Disengage the drag while storing. With new synthetic drag materials, this step is not as critical as it once was, but it does insure smooth drag operation.

Reach reelsmith Ralph Smith at 443-848-1074 or at thereelsmith@comcast.net.

The Story of a Reelsmith

How Ralph Smith became a master of his craft

Ralph Smith, of Pasadena, was already an avid angler by his 10th year. Almost as soon, he began to tinker with reels. Many youngsters like to take things apart, but Smith could put them back together. Later in life, he could make them better than new.

A Zebco 202, a gift from his grandfather, was his first fishing reel. The 202 is a push-button, closed-face, spin-cast reel that has probably started more fishermen on the path to an angling life than any other. Smith assembled and disassembled that mechanism almost to the point of wearing it out.

Not long after came an event he would never forget. It was an incident with a Daiwa spinning reel that had come to him soon after the Zebco. The new reel, a fixed-spool spinner, had immediately become a prized possession. But on a family camping trip, his fishing outfit was accidentally run over. The rod miraculously survived, but the Daiwa reel was seriously damaged.

Rather than discard it, he convinced his mother to take him to a nearby Daiwa repair shop and parts warehouse to see if they might rescue his beloved reel. The technician held the mangled instrument in his hand, looked over at the distraught youngster and allowed that he might find components in the back that could help things out.

He eventually reappeared to present Smith with a fully restored Daiwa reel. Awed, Smith resolved to become as skilled a craftsman as the man who had brought his damaged reel back to life.

Smith was too young to realize that the kindly Daiwa technician had replaced the mangled spinning reel with a new one of the same model. Even when he eventually understood what had really happened, his desire was undiminished. He would become a master of the mechanics of the fishing reel.

There are no schools or classes that teach how to service, repair, restore and rework fishing reels. It has to be done by personal initiative, one reel at a time. It took Smith over 25 years to achieve the level of mastery he desired before beginning a commercial operation.

The services Smith now provides are not limited to reel cleaning, servicing and repair. He can set right any model of any reel for which replacement parts can be found, substituted or manufactured, and he can also improve the mechanisms themselves.

Using high-level polishing compounds and techniques, he hones and reworks the internal gears, sleeves and bearing surfaces of reels to provide virtually frictionless operation. Upgrades of critical moving parts can also be made. His modifications improve the reel’s overall performance, especially casting distance, casting-control mechanisms, drag function and operational lifespan.

© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.