How To Clean Your Spinning Reel Drag System (In Just 5 Minutes)
Is there a sweeter sound than hearing your drag scream?
It’s music to any angler’s ears, but it only screams if your drag system is working properly.
To keep it working like new, I put together this quick video to show you how easy it is to clean and maintain your drag system.
Check it out below for the simple, five-minute process.
How To Maintain Your Drag System [VIDEO]
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Step 1. Remove the spool
This will allow you to access the drag system.
Step 2. Remove the drag washers
There are several mechanisms that reel manufacturers use to keep the drag washers in place, so see the video for details on how to do this with two different types of reels.
3. Inspect the inside of the spool where the washers rest
Make sure to remove any dirt or debris in there.
4. Inspect the washers and make sure they’re not cracked, broken, or torn
If there are any issues, you can order replacement washers.
5. Clean washers off
You can use a solvent to wash old grease off, or you can just wipe them off with a paper towel.
6. Apply drag grease to felt or cloth washers
Just get a little on your fingertips and apply it to the felt or cloth washer.
You can get drag grease from your local tackle shop, or from Amazon here.
Note: if you have ceramic or carbon washers, you don’t need to grease them (the grease is to make sure felt or cloth washers don’t burn).
7. Put drag washers back in spool
Make sure they’re placed in the proper order.
8. Check your drag clicker
If your reel stops clicking, there’s likely an issue with the drag clicker, so be sure to check that.
You can also put grease on it to prevent corrosion.
If you have to deal with really small screws like I did in the video, by putting a bit of grease at the tip of your screwdriver it will help the screws stick to it, which will make getting them back into their holes much easier than if you tried to use your fingers to get them back in.
By regularly cleaning your drag system you can make sure that your reel is running smoothly and lasts a long time.
For more reel maintenance tips, you can check out this post on making your spinning reels last longer.
Have any questions about cleaning or maintaining your drag system?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you know someone who needs to clean their drag system, please TAG or SHARE this with them!
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Great info on here again guys! I have always run my stock drags til I needed to do the first maintenance on them when it becomes slightly jerky or hesitant. Then I clean and regrease with cals and order carbontex( there are others to order, but I have bought a few sets and have been more than satisfied with them…not so with two other that I’ve ordered from). Smoothdrags recommends a very light film of cals grease on there so I also use it on my reels as well since it’s formulated for both drags and gears…and there also a cold weather version for the guys up north. One thing I like is a smooth drag no matter what…saves so many lightly hooked fish, especially helps land more trout!
Good stuff Casey!
My CI14 and my Pluger president reels when dealing in sound like a little resistance like sand paper not real bad but not smooth
I would check the roller bearing that the line rolls on at the bail. If not it is most likely one of the bearings inside the reel.
How often do you perform the reel maintenance? I realize it is based on useage, but just wondering if this is once a season, monthly or weekly? Thanks in advance!
I take a look at the drag system at least once a month to make sure nothing is worn or damaged. Also if I end up fighting a large fish for an extended amount of time (or catch a ton of fish in one trip) I will inspect everything after the trip and re-grease if anything.
Great information Thanks
No problem Richard!
I’m surprised you don’t recommend to grease carbon drags.
I have disassemble some high end reels (shimano stella, daiwa, ocea jiggers) and they all have carbon drags and are all greased.
I have replaced some felt drags with carbontex carbon washers and they recommend grease as well.
They can be greased, but it isn’t necessary like it is with the felt washers. If you use carbon and notice some sticking, definitely add some grease.
I have a couple of old Garcia-Mitchell 302 reels that have old, rusty metal spider-shaped drag washers… is there anything else I can use to replace these? The reels work fine other than the drag.
I am not 100% sure with the older reels. I could imagine there should be some type of way to modify them to use modern materials. I would leave that to the experts though at a reel shop.
Give smoothdrag guys an email or call. They may have some carbonated that will fit. Most smaller spinning reels up to bout 3000 size are bout $8.
Tony, can you upgrade your felt and steel washers to carbon and ceramic or are you locked in with what came with the reel
You can, you just have to be sure of the right size for your particular reel.
Thanks for the video Tony!
I have a couple reels that have the drag setting on the bottom of the reel. I’ve taken the spool off before for putting on new line, but haven’t messed with the drag system. I assume it’s generally the same, but oriented upside down
Any tips in this situation?
No problem Jonathan!
I’ll be completely honest that I’m not familiar with the rear drag systems. I haven’t used them in a loooooong time.
What makes drag grease drag grease? Is the reel grease in the small tubes the same thing? Great video! Thank you
I believe it has to do with the ability to withstand heat. Your drag system is going to experience a lot more heat and friction than the gears in your reel. They say you can use drag grease on your gears, but don’t use reel grease on your drag.
Thanks Tony that makes sense…..
Thank you for the great feedback Thomas!