DIY Saltwater Reel Repair And Maintenance (Video)

Keep your tackle in tip top shape for frustration-free fishing

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Kayak fishing in Key West is hard to beat, but saltwater corrosion can really do a number on your gear. Few know this better than Steve, a Florida inshore angler and host of the Key West Kayak Fishing channel on YouTube. Steve takes us through his monthly repair and maintenance routine for the Quantum Cabo 40 PTSE, his saltwater spinning reel of choice. Learn how to deal with rust, corrosion and replacement parts with a minimum of fuss, and get back on the water quicker.


DIY Saltwater Reel Repair and Maintenance

Quantum Cabo fishing reel
The Quantum Cabo fishing reel.

Steve introduces his three favorite reels in varying states of disrepair, all Quantum Cabos. “I match them with my two Esky medium lights and one medium action rod,” he says. Before getting down to disassembling them, Steve covers two common repairs for these reels.

Unlike many reels, the Quantum Cabos use a magnet instead of a spring to keep tension on the bail arm, but saltwater corrosion can cause the magnet to expand and fall out in chunks. The solution depends on how far gone it is. For minor damage, Steve suggests sanding down the magnet’s surface and coating it with glue to seal out the saltwater. For more serious damage, Steve says, “I’m just gonna swap it out here in its entirety.”

Another common issue is the anti-reverse going bad, bypassing the drag system and letting the handle spin wildly when a fish hooks up. “I always get my knuckles busted because of that,” Steve complains. Luckily, the Quantum Cabos ship with a repair kit for just such a circumstance.

These issues aside, Steve breaks down his reels and soaks the metal parts in white vinegar to soften up encrusted salt. “I’ll go through all of the bodies, internals, all the gears and take those out, give them a wipe down, degrease them and then re-grease and oil everything and put them back,” he says.

man demonstrates how to repair and maintain 3 saltwater fishing reels
Learn how to deal with rust, corrosion and replacement parts with a minimum of fuss, and get back on the water quicker. | Image: Key West Kayak Fishing/YouTube

Keep Parts On Hand for a Quicker Fix

It takes some foresight, but having your own parts department on hand makes all the difference for a quick turnaround. “I’ve got tons and tons of bearings and bushings. I’ve got the rotors, bill, arms, bales, o-rings, washers, nuts, bolts—pretty much everything,” Steve says. “It keeps my down time to a minimum. Ordering parts means ten days down, so can’t have that.” He keeps parts on hand to fully rebuild all three reels.

Make sure you watch the whole video for all Steve’s tackle repair and maintenance tips, plus an unfortunate blooper at the very end.


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  1. There is a great site to visit for reel repair, it’s called the people their are very nice and helpful. If you get stuck, they will walk you through it. There are all kinds of tutorials. Knowledge abounds on that site. Sign in and say hello.


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