How To Fix A Fishing Reel That Won’t Lock?

It feels very irritating when the fishing reel doesn’t lock anymore, particularly when you have caught a fish. Do you ever experience this frustrating thing? If yes, then we can understand your pain. That’s why we have come up with the solutions to this problem. Here, we will provide how to fix a fishing reel that won’t lock?

By fixing the broken spool, drag system, anti-reverse on the spinning reel, line issues, and rod, you can solve this. Also, the way you are using it is one of the reasons behind the reel’s lock-up. So, we will share some regular maintenance tips for fishing reels in this guide.

Related review: You can read about “Best Kastking Reels” [Read here] and “Best Budget Saltwater Spinning Reel” [Read here]

What Is A Fishing Reel Locked?

Each fly reel comes with a U-shaped metal piece. This metal piece is known as bail. You can move this bail from one side to another. Open bail allows the spool to move in the direction to help the line come off the reel. For casting the reel line, this is the most essential function.

What Is A Fishing Reel Locked?

It means the spool can’t move in the direction to allow the line to come off if the bail is closed. With closed bail, the spool will only run for retrieving the line. This anti-reverse or dragging system makes the fishing reel locking problem.

How To Fix A Fishing Reel That Won’t Lock?

At first, find out the reason behind the reel’s lock-up. The reasons probably include:

  • Broken spool or Bail wire,
  • Drag system malfunction,
  • Anti-reverse on spinning reel issues,
  • line tangles or twistings, and
  • Rod or spool.

After determining the issue now see how to fix a fishing reel that won’t lock from the below section.

Related blog: You can read about “How Much Line To Put On A Reel” [Read here] and “Fly Reel Vs Centerpin” [Read here]

Fixing the Broken Spool or Bail Wire

If the reel’s bail or spool is broken, it will stop the coil from being secured. To fix this issue, you will need a small screwdriver, two pliers, and the required replacement kits.

Step 1: Removing the screws

Remove one screw from the pivoting side of the bail wire. Some spinning reel requires removing both screws. Store them in a safe place because you will need them while reassembling the bail.

Step 2: Check the Bail Wire

Notice the damaged sign like bent on the cable, rusty snapped, misshaped, and corroded. If the bail wire is damaged, then you have to replace it. You can move to the next level if the bail doesn’t have any damaged sign.

Step 3: Inspect the Line Roller

The spinning reel will stop working if the line roller is broken. At first, remove the screw that holds the line roller and, if needed, replace it with a new one.

Step 4: Check the Spring

Just like the bail wire, if the spring is dusty, rusty, kinked, or damaged, it can cause the spinning reel not to lock. If you see such a thing replace it immediately.

Step 5: Reassemble the Reel

After checking all the above items and completing the replacement process, now reassemble all of them. Set the screws up and check if the reel is locked or not.

Drag System Malfunction

The drag system pulls the line without breaking while catching the strong large fish. When the fish create a reverse pressure, this drag system stops the line. This thing can also make the reel not locking.

With the lowest drag setting, the line will unwind quickly. After that, look out for the inner components like fiber, washer, spring, and spring clip. With any broken part, get a replacement and then reassemble everything.

Anti-Reverse on Spinning Reel Issues

An anti-reverse system combines with lots of springs, gears, and miniatures. So, you have to check each part by separating the gears and miniatures.

Step 1: Spring Displacement

Take off all the spinning reel’s drag adjustment part, then apart them from the frame and spool. Now check the reel body part under the spool. You will see a tiny spring in the reel handle. If it gets displaced, place the spring with a pen in the right place.

Step 2: Loosen the Anti-reverse Hammer Piece

Remove the spinning reel’s all the internal parts and focus on the coil’s hammer piece and leaching gear. You will find a small blushing and a silver color ring inside it.

If the ring is slipped out, then using a little amount of adhesive, close it. Keep it to dry for 24 hours. After drying it properly, taste the anti-reverse lever and make sure the process is successful. If the anti-reverse system is broken, you have to replace it.

Line Tangles or Twistings

Line twists can happen with the long-term use of a fishing reel. You have to set the line-up and replace it. While setting up, remember to set a whole new line. As the braided line can’t stretch much, it can cause tangling or slipping.

In this case, if you use a few mono filament braids, it can be reduced. A wrong-sized reel can hamper the fishing experience. So it is essential to choose the right fishing reel size and coil.

Rod or Spool

Stringing the rod requires proper time as most of the anger ties the rod very fast. While opening the bail, you have to hold the line’s end side and then put it into the guides. After that, you have to tie the knot and drag it. Ensure having a secure knot while catching the larger fish.

Regular Maintenance Tips For Fishing Reel

Every reel comes up with some differences. But the basic maintenance is the same. Here are some regular tips that will keep the fishing reel working properly.

Regular Maintenance Tips For Fishing Reel
  • Before you begin fishing, assemble all the tools properly.
  • Make sure to keep the cleaning supplies.
  • Do not use metal against metal.
  • While handling the springs and wire clips, use tweezers.
  • Before removing the spool, you should remove or secure the fishing line.
  • To remove the dirt and grease, never use gasoline types of products.


After completing this whole guide hopefully, now you understand how to fix a fishing reel that won’t lock. It seems a bit tricky, but from the above steps, you can easily fix this issue up.

It’s all about checking the bail wire, drag system, anti-reverse system, fixing line twisting, and rod. Having accurate knowledge about the fishing reel is essential to spend a fun day on the water.