Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Fix a Fishing Reel that Doesn’t Lock In

How to Fix a Fishing Reel that Doesn’t Lock In

One of the most frustrating parts of fishing is being out on the water and your line gets twisted. Not much can be done in terms of untwisting it that won’t take a solid chunk of time out of your day. You either have to slowly untwist it, or reline the rod, both of which will lose you valuable fishing time. Most often we find that the twisted line is from a reel that didn’t lock in causing the upper part of your line to be twisted by whatever fish was on the hook.

So once the lock fails and the line twists we’re left with a rod that won’t effectively reel in. How do we fix a reel that doesn’t lock in? It’s one part of the whole rig, but a major aspect that needs to be guaranteed effective. Line locks do a fantastic job at preventing the twist of your upper line, but sometimes even they will fail. Fixing a fishing reel that doesn’t lock in requires equal parts preparation and problem solving. You can prevent the failed lock before you leave shore.

Find Out Why Your Fishing Reel Doesn’t Lock In

The best way to fix a problem is to diagnose it. Without knowing what’s plaguing your line lock, you won’t be able to fix it and prevent it from occurring again. Chances are, if your line won’t lock in, there’s a limited number of possibilities that could be at fault. We will go more in depth about how to solve each of these problems, but your focus right now should be finding out which one is at fault as you don’t want to attempt to fix one issue but another one is the reason for the failed lock.

Any of the following could be the reason for the failed line lock: Anti-reverse system, drag system, broken components like spool or wires, twisting lines, failed spool locks. Go through each of these parts on your rod and check to see how they are fairing. If any of them are showing signs of fault, that might be your culprit for the failed line lock.

Some resolutions might be a bit more complex than you’re able to fix. If you aren’t able to enact the solution, don’t press your luck as it might lead to further issues with your rod. The best option for these complicated solutions would be to take it to a specialty shop who knows how to handle these failed line locks. Some issues can be prevented by proper line perpetration. The issue could also be attributed to how you’re using the rod and how you set it up so make sure your technique is proper.

Prevent the Loose Reel Before You Embark

Before we begin offering solutions for the issues causing your reel’s failed line locks, it’s important to note ways that you can prevent these issues from happening. If you’re reading this article, chances are your line has already failed to lock in or a friend of yours recently experienced this issue. The best way to solve a failed line lock is to prevent it from happening all together.

The following are the best ways to prepare yourself and your reel for your fishing trip. The more prepared you are, the less likely it is that your line will fail to lock in as most of the cases of this are anglers who didn’t set up their line properly. If your reel failed to lock in and none of the possible issues in the section above are at fault, check to make sure you set your line up properly.

Proper Line Setups

The best setups will depend on the type of fishing you’re embarking on. Larger fish will require stronger lines and shallow waters will need shorter reels. Familiarize yourself with the surrounding areas and make sure that you have all of the right tools for the job. Start by stringing your rod with the right reel.

Spinning reels are great for all forms of fishing, specifically bait fishing. Spincast reels are similar but limit your accuracy and length. Baitcasting reels are more advanced and more difficult to thread – the spool turns while casting. Conventional reels are similar to baitcasters, but are more for big fish trips. Bringing along the right reel can make a world of difference in your setup.

Once you know you have the right tools along for the trip, make sure you set it up properly. Start by connecting and spooling the reel. After your reel is spooled, string the rod, and make sure no knots or twists occur during this process. Tie the knot, attach any leads, lures, and spinners to complete your line. Once it’s all in place, you’re ready to go.

Know Your Rig

The other most important part of preparation is to know your rig. If you know every part of your setup, what it does, how it’s supposed to look when working, and what it’s not supposed to look like, you’ll be better prepared to spot any issues. Half the work of setting up your line is doing the research beforehand to know when you’re correct and when you’re wrong. It might not sound fun right now, but learning about every aspect of your line can save you trouble down the road.

Preparation might not be the glorious part of fishing, but it certainly is necessary. String your reel right, make sure you have all of the necessary tools and information, and know everything about your equipment. Once this is all in your muscle memory, you’re ready to go out on an adventure and begin catching fish. The preparation is done and your line is much less likely to fail at locking in. But what about what it does? It’s not always our fault, sometimes failure is inevitable.

Solving Your Fishing Reel’s Issues

Anti-Reverse Issues

This system prevents the reel from turning backwards while engaging the drag. It’s a complex system and if it fails, it needs a complex answer. You’ll have to take the anti-reverse completely apart and inspect each aspect for issues. Once you’ve diagnosed the issue, put it back together and get fishing. This complex system should only be tinkered with if you know what you’re doing.

Drag System Issues

This part allows bigger fish to feel resistance without offering enough tension to break the line. Sometimes the drag system can cause the reel lock to fail. If this seems to be the issue, take the drag apart and inspect the knob to see if it’s the culprit. Check everything inside and see what failed. This is another complex procedure and should only be done if you’re confident in your knowledge.

Broken Components

Any broken components like spools and wires can be the reason the reel didn’t lock in. This is the most common issue and one that can be easily solved by replacing them with any spare tools you have with you. Sometimes the break occurs inside another part and a more precise procedure needs to be enacted. Be careful when pulling out or replacing the broken component.

Twisted Lines

If there’s an issue with the line itself, it could be attributed to wear and tear over years of use. The best way to solve this is to simply replace the line. Don’t take this one lightly, however, as it’s still a time-consuming process and improper setup could be what caused the issue in the first place. Restring your line with care and get back out to fishing. 

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.