Virtually every brand new spinning reel you buy — at least if it’s made with decent parts — is butter smooth right out of the box.
However, problems can come into play after several months of heavy use.
Things can get a little sticky and rough, and once that happens, it’s hard to get a reel to feel like new again.
But Capt. Theophile Bourgeois, with Bourgeois Fishing Charters, has discovered something that’ll bring life back to an old reel, or keep a reel that’s fresh out the box feeling that way.
He actually, believe it or not, deliberately drills a hole in the reel.
“You want to get away from the handle and find a clean area where you can get a (1/8-inch) drill bit in there pretty flat,” he said. “Take your time because some gear casings are made out of aluminum, and the cheap ones are made out of plastic.”
When putting the hole in the reel, Bourgeois said you don’t want to have your drill on high speed.
“When you feel the drill bit breaking through, don’t hit the worm gear,” he cautioned. “If you hit the worm gear, you’re going to put a nick, and you’re going to feel it.”
Now, why in the heck would you put a hole in a reel? Well, according to Bourgeois, another hole provides an outlet for lubricants.
“I’ll take WD-40, and I’ll drown it,” he said. “It’ll come out of everywhere because I’m spraying an excessive amount.”
One thing Bourgeois did mention, though, is not to substitute WD-40 for other types of lubricants, like lithium grease. And he noted he’s certainly not shy with the amount of WD-40 he uses.
“WD-40 is $4 a can; my reel is $150,” he said.
Bourgeois said once you put the WD-40 in the reel, it’s important to crank the handle a few times to get the lubricant distributed inside the reel.
“You want everything to go forward; there’s nothing in the back,” he said.
This is certainly a fantastic trick for an old reel that needs some TLC, but Bourgeois said he’s been doing it with all of his new Lew’s reels when he first gets them.
“If you want to play it safe with a brand-new reel, take the side panel off, and pre-drill it off the reel,” he said.
Bourgeois does a considerable amount of wade-fishing at the Chandeleur Islands. And if you know anything about salt water and fishing reels, you know they go together about as well as barbecue sauce and peach pie.
“I had a kid the other day swimming with my reel, and it still worked,” Bourgeois said. “Normally, if I would have not had that hole drilled and had WD-40 in there, (it wouldn’t have worked).”
But even if you don’t wade fish, this is a tactic Bourgeois highly recommends.
“Days like (Tuesday) with the high humidity and rain, rain, rain, I’ve had reels lock up on me never being dunked – just from being out in the boat,” he said.
On average, Bourgeois said, he’s been doubling the life of his spinning reels by drilling the custom holes.
“For a guide reel, to say I got a year out of it, is unusual,” he said. “We normally get 6 months.”