How to fix a carp fishing reel

All Anglers know how expensive tackle can be and how awful it is when something breaks. One of the most expensive and complicated pieces of tackle is the reel, they can be very difficult to repair and often you have to end up buying a new reel. Here are a few examples of simple checks and repairs you can do at home.

Problem one: Birds nest/ Line Twist

Birds Nest is a very common Issue among new anglers and can happen often during casting.

Although it is a simple problem and it usually causes no structural damage to the reel, but it’s an absolute headache, it leaves you on the bank picking at your reel for hours, trying to undo a thousand knots.

If the case Birds nest is very bad and your reel is completely jammed you can remove the spool and try to salvage as much line as possible. To remove the spool, simply turn the drag anti-clockwise until the spool just pops off.

A good way to prevent this is to first of all taking checks on your reel each time you cast and second of all spool up your reel with good quality line. 

For carp fishing reels we recommend Korda Touchdown Mainline (check price on Amazon)

Problem two: Rusty drag/Smoothness

There could be a number of factors affecting how smooth your reel is, a common issue is often the drag washers inside the spool of your reel.

Over time the drag washers rust and cause the reel to feel rough, in order to fix this problem you have to take out them out and file them with sandpaper in order to remove the rust which is quite a complicated procedure.

Problem three: Drag function

Personally reels, we wouldn’t open up our reels because there are too many things that can go wrong.  What problem is when you turn on the drag you can still backwind, making the reel useless. There can be many reasons for this and that is why we’d always recommend taking your reel to an angling shop or a reel specialist.

Due to the complexity in modern reels, we always will take our reels to a repair shop for severe issues to see if it is worth repairing or not.

Reel maintenance:

If you take care of your reel, they can last very long, I’ve owned this Okuma Silvara pro 40 for seven or eight years and by taking good care of it after every session it was able to last very long and still functions perfectly to this day.

This is some basic maintenance you can do to your reel to ensure your reel has the longest life possible

Wash your reel

After every session its good practice to wipe your reel with a soft cloth and remove as much dust and dirt you can without pressing too hard on the reel

Next rinse your reel with warm water, this will prevent any grit and dirt getting into any mechanical workings (do not dunk it underwater)

After you’ve given the reel a quick wash and let it dry in its own time

Check the drag

Check the drag is functions properly, make sure that it loosens and tightens correctly and smoothly. If you have a free-spool feature on your reel do the same with it as well. When you’re storing your reel make sure that the drag is nice and loose.

Moving parts

Like the drag it’s also good to check that all the moving parts of the reel are working properly, this includes the bail arm, drag switch, freespool switch and the handle. If any of these parts did have issues, we’id go to an angling shop or a reel repair specialist, the inner workings of a reel these days are too complicated to fix at home.


Use a non-petroleum based lubricant on the moving parts of the reel, this includes:

  • The bail arm
  • Line roller
  • Handle

When lubricating reels make sure to not to overdo it because lubricant also attracts dust and dirt which could potentially get into the mechanics of the reel and cause damage and make your reel wear very fast.

How to avoid these problems:

The easiest way to avoid problems with your reel is to buy a reliable one in the first place. If you’ve been using very cheap, unbranded reel, chances are it is going to be very poor quality and will likely have Issues. To avoid this problem, it is worth investing in a more expensive reel so that you don’t have to keep replacing it every few months.

An analogy we like to use is to think of rods and reels as though they are household appliances, like a TV or washing machine. Generally speaking, most people stick with big, reliable brands when buying these products because they know that it will be more reliable and long-lasting than cheaper options.

The exact same thing applies for carp fishing rods and reels, you find that big, well-known brands are usually much more reliable which is why we recommend you stick with them.

A few examples of big brands in the carp fishing industry are:

  • Diawa
  • Shimano
  • Okuma
  • Fox
  • Nash

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