Four years ago, I decided to do something I told myself I would never do...fish my two Abu Garcia reels on the river. Sand and sediment from rivers can take quite a toll on fishing reels, which I found out first hand about two years ago. My Abu Garcia 5000 Baitcaster got so much junk inside it that casting became impossible. I figured the reel had a decent life, so I retired it to the compartment between the front seats of my Jeep...which is where it has sat ever since (a sad resting place, indeed). I didn't have the heart to throw it away; only a couple years earlier I caught an 18lb. Channel Catfish with that reel. It was a veteran in my tackle, and I wouldn't part ways with it. I pressed on with my other Abu Garcia 5500-C3 Baitcaster. Last week, I heard the infamous shrill squeaks of sand-on-metal when I casted into the water. I knew I would have to take it apart and clean it, but I was very hesitant to do so. I had heard dealing with the innards of a baitcaster was like mastering the Rubik's Cube, which I'm certainly not good at. I decided, however, that I would take on the task, but I would try it on my 5000 first.
I had never taken apart a baitcaster before, so I began taking off the screws to the casing and reel assembly, trying to make sure I kept everything in an order. As I pulled off the outside casing, a small explosion of pieces erupted onto my work space. My veteran baitcaster had become a heap of pieces.
My heart sank into my chest. I had pieces in my hands that I couldn't identify or see where they originally attached. My first thought was that I had ruined this reel completely. There was no way I could possibly put it back together. I instinctively stopped what I was doing and went straight to google.com to search for a rebuilding schematic. The best I could find was a series of unhelpful maintenance pictures that weren't helping me rebuild. After several more minutes of searching, I finally came across a 2-part youtube video that proved to be an amazing lifesaver.
The gentleman in the video completely disassembled an Abu Garcia reel for cleaning and showed how to put it back together piece by piece. The videos are a little out of focus, so it took a lot of replays to figure out where some of the pieces went. Once I got the reel back together, I felt confident enough to take it apart again to clean it. When it was reassembled, I couldn't believe at how well the reel performed! Everything worked out so well, I decided to work another hour and take apart the 5500-C3 for a thorough cleaning.
While the outer casings have taken quite the beating, the moving parts on the inside are looking and feeling like they are brand new. Both of these reels have taken their spots back as two of my favorite reels in my fishing arsenal. These reels are still destined for the river, however. As far as bass fishing goes, they have been replaced by a brand new Abu Garcia 5500-SSC4, one of the smoothest reels I have ever used.
With the success of my fishing reels, I decided to finish the day strong and completely reorganize my fishing tackle. Until this day, I've had my tackle scattered in two or three different tackle boxes. My bass tackle would be thrown in one tackle box, my pan fish tackle in another, my catfish tackle in the bottom of a bucket, and my fly fishing tackle in my backpack. After a couple hours of intense organization and condensation, I managed to fit all of my tackle into one medium sized tackle bag, allowing room for all the odds and ends (scale, knife, bug spray, etc.), that come in handy when I'm on the water.
This has been by far one of the most productive days for my fishing, and I didn't even make it to the water! By having my reels cleaned and my tackle organized, I know the next opportunity I have to fish will be an amazing one. The next rainy day you have, try some cleaning and organizing of your own. Hopefully you'll be as anxious as I am to hit the water and try out some of the changes you've made.