PhD in Fishing Reel Bearings

Bearings 101

Tackletour published a great article on fishing reel bearings.  The condensed version below:

  • ABEC rated bearings of 5-9 are great for spool bearing upgrades if they are certified.
  • Spool bearings get oil only.
  • Performance increases are most notable when casting lighter weights.
  • Ceramic bearings are corrosion resistant but still require regular servicing and oiling.
  • Ceramic bearings are noticeably louder
  • All non-spool bearings get grease
  • Bearings should be cleaned with Acetone

Ball Bearing Problems, Causes and Solutions


Bearing Problem Cause Cause
High Speed Spool Bearing Constant Buzz or Roar sound (often accompanied by severe vibration during cast) Hard Debris in Bearing Clean
Worn Races or Balls Replace Bearing
Bearing Not Axially Aligning Correctly While Spinning Clean/Lube Shaft In Race
Shaft Bearing Not Sitting Correctly In Socket Make Sure Bearing Is Correctly Seated
Socket Filled With Oil Clean the Bearing Socket and Felt (if equipped)
Spool Vibration (spool out of balance, out of round, or warped shaft) Spool Out of Balance/Round or Warped Shaft
Spool Pin Not Centered on the Spool Shaft Re-center Spool Pin So It Does Not Rub On the Frame or bearing socket
High Speed Spool Bearing – Buzz or Roar Constant With Spool Speed But Loudness And Pitch Changes With Spool Speed Damaged/Pitted Replace Bearing
Internal Corrosion Replace Bearing
Severely Fouled Clean and Lube
High Speed Spool Bearing – Hiss or Rustle That Changes With Spool Speed Soft Debris in Bearing Clean
Mixed Lubricant Clean and Lube
Water Intrusion Let Dry-out
May be normal for some ceramic hybrid bearings until they “run-in” NA
High Speed Spool Bearing – Gurgling or Hollow Sound [Especially Ceramic Ball Bearings] (Changes With Spool Speed And May Also Experience Vibration) Overlube Excess Oil May Eventually Be Expelled
Water Intrusion Let Dry-out
Mixed Oil Lubricant Clean and Lube
High Speed Spool Bearing – Screech, Squeel or Howl (Intermittent or May Become Constant at Higher Spool Speeds) Insufficient Lube Lube
Mixed Lube Clean and Lube
Bearing Shield Contacting Center Race Remove and Reinstall Shield
Worn/Damaged Race Replace Bearing
Ceramic/Ceramic Hybrid High Speed Spool Bearings – Rustle Sound (Often Sounds the Same at All Spool Speed) Insufficient Lube Lube
Dirty Bearing Clean
May Be Normal For Very Light Spools or Very High Speed Spools May Not Even Be the Bearings
Spool Vibration Warped or Dented Spool, or Bent Shaft
Any Bearing – Crunch Felt When Rotating Bearing By Hand at Low Speed Hard Debris in Bearing Clean
Worn/Damaged Races or Balls Clean First Then Replace if Needed
Any Bearing – While Cleaning Does Not Rotate Smoothly When Bearing is Positioned Vertically on its Center Race and Spun By Fingertip Still Dirty or Old Lube Not Removed Clean Again
Bearing Cage Inside the Bearing May Be Warped Or Not Tracking Correctly Clean Again But May Need To Replace
Damaged Balls Replace



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Just a fisherman who loves a great reel...

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