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Uses For Old Fishing Reels

Pretty much every angler I know has a few old reels lying around, and short of turning them into questionable home decor, all of us wonder what can be done with them.

Here’s a short list of ideas that can help you decide what to do with your old fishing reels.

Related: Top Fishing Reels For Every Situation

Give them to an angler in need

A buddy and I were fishing a quiet lake, catching fish every few casts or so. Not far away, a dad and son were fishing, too, but with no luck.

After a few minutes of watching them struggle, we walked over and introduced ourselves. After a quick chat, we handed the kid about a dozen of the inline spinners we’d be using and watched his face light up like a lighthouse at night.

Now, you may not luck into a situation quite like that, but I guarantee that you know - or will meet - an angler for whom your old fishing reel is a treasure.

Obviously, you don’t want to give someone a broken reel. 

A gently used reel like this can be a game-changer for someone who can’t afford one.

But plenty of us switch out to a new one long before the old one is used up, and I know more than a few fishermen who have spares for their spares.

Cut down on the tackle clutter and make someone’s day.

Sell them

Maybe you’ve just traded up for that new, fast reel you’ve had your eye on for a while, and your old reel is still plenty good.

Why not sell it and soften that sticker shock?

Resources like eBay provide a great way to turn your unused tackle into cold, hard cash.

Learn to service your reels

There are three good reasons for keeping your reels and learning to disassemble and reassemble them.


Reels need to be properly serviced, which involves some degree of disassembly to repack the bearings with grease - not just oil.

But that takes a fair bit of confidence, and that confidence better have knowledge behind it.

You probably don’t want to do this until you really know what you’re doing!

Reel disassembly can be tricky, but putting one back together properly is trickier still. And taking your top-flight tackle out of service while you wait for someone else to put it back together isn’t a solid plan.

Instead, practice on your old reels and learn the ins and outs of maintenance on them.

You’ll learn a lot about how reels work, and you’ll quickly develop the knowledge base to service them yourself.

Customization and Tuning

The number one thing that wears out in your reel are the bearings.

And if you learn to service your reels yourself, you can buy premium bearings from companies like Boca, swap out the old ones, and return a spare to prime condition.

New, premium bearings will improve the performance of your old reel, probably allowing it to out-cast and out-fish your new one.

New, high-end bearings will improve casting distance considerably.

They make that much difference.

And if you get comfortable with this inexpensive process, there’s no reason you can't take your new reels to the same level.

Potential spare parts

And that leads us to the final thing you can do with your old reels: keep them for spare parts.

In all likelihood, the bearings aren’t the pieces you’re going to want to take from an old reel, but on the off chance that you break a gear tooth, it’s not a bad idea to have spares handy.

About The Author
John Baltes