New Partnership

Effective today you will be able to drop your reels off and pick them up at Outdoor Emporium in Seattle, 7 days a week!   Invoicing and communication on estimates will be handled through


Outdoor Emporium is the largest independently owned and operated sporting goods store in Seattle with a huge selection of the finest reels, rods and tackle in the area.   We are thrilled with this opportunity to partner with such a fine organization and look forward to adding value to our mutual customers.

We service and repair reels from most of the major manufactures.  So if you have a couple of reels that are in need of professional attention please drop by Outdoor Emporium!

Outdoor Emporium

1701 4th Ave S

Seattle, WA  98134

(206) 624-6550

Since 1975 Sportco & Outdoor Emporium have offered customers the largest selection of outdoor related products at affordable everyday warehouse pricing. We feature over 60,000 different items in hunting, fishing, camping, athletics, hiking, clothing, footwear and security vaults.

Sportco & Outdoor Emporium are warehouse style sporting goods stores that are located in Fife and Seattle, Washington respectively. We have an optional yearly membership program that offers substantial saving throughout the year. We feature annual Outdoor Tent Sales in April and August and you can find us at the Western Washington Sportsman’s show. Our mission here at Sportco & Outdoor Emporium is to offer our customers the largest selection of outdoor related products possible at affordable everyday low warehouse pricing. Our goal is to have customers who are totally satisfied with the quality, price and availability of the products we carry.

Sportco & Outdoor Emporium are a division of Farwest Sports, Inc., a Washington State corporation established in 1965. Farwest Sports also owns and operates Sports Service, the largest wholesaler of outdoor related sporting goods in Washington State.



Fishing Reel Service and Repair

Whether you are preparing for salmon, steelhead, bass or saltwater trophies we are your one stop shop for fishing reel service and repair in the Pacific Northwest.  Located on Mercer Island, one block off off of I90 we are your local,  fast turn around solution to fishing reel repair, annual service and upgrades.  We specialize in service, repair, upgrades and custom reel building.  We are happy to take your call and walk you through the process and provide a realistic timeline for completion.  Expedited service is available if needed.  Don’t let poor performing equipment stand between you and a fish of a lifetime. Give us a call today!

Keep it clean…and green!

Hopefully,  we all have a routine for annual reel service.  For some, it means complete tear down, inspection, ordering parts, oil and lube, drag washers and assembly.  For others, it might be less.  Obviously how the reel is used and how much of that time was in saltwater,  determines the optimal service intervals. Basic after fishing wash down with fresh water, a quick wipe down with a soft rag that has a water dispersent sprayed onto the rag.  Store in cool, dry dark space.img_0778   I would be one of the people that would agree that washing your gear down after every outing in saltwater is mandatory.   In some extreme instances, like kayak fishing, the reels take a beating in the sand and salt.  They need heavy maintenance.  Let’s get started…

I have learned to give myself adequate workspace that has great lighting and no clutter. These steps help keep the process of dismantling, cleaning, inpecting and restoring reels much easier and efficient.  Wayward parts are more easily found when your space is well lite and free from clutter.  I find the light background helps me more easily identify cracks and excessive wear on parts.  I use a simple magnifying glass to inspect parts.

Give yourself easy access to all needed tools, oils, greases and chemicals.  Speaking of chemicals, I try to have a minimal impact on the environment by using Simple Green for primary my cleaner with Dawn dish soap.  Vinegar is used to remove the green corrosion on chrome plated brass parts.  I use cloth rags instead of paper towels. I use washable containers instead of paper cups and trays.  Reels are separated into stainless steel trays for cleaning.

Dismantle reel and move small parts to small cup.  Large parts into stainless steel tubs for either soaking in detergent or vinegar.  In severe cases where large amounts of old grease I  will use brake cleaner spray to expedite the cleaning process.  It does not take much to remove all the parts from metal parts.  No plastic parts in this solution as they will be destroyed quickly.   Bearings into separate containers to soak in lighter fluid.  I generally let the reels soak in detergent over night.  Then hot water bath and dry.  If additional cleaning is required  I use Simple Green and wipe clean.  Then a good rinse in hot water and wipe dry again.

Inspection is a critical part of the process.  Gears, pinion, drag washers, gear sleeves, side plates, anti reverse dogs, etc…  Use a magnifying glass to look at the parts.  Small cracks and dings in gears is much easier to identify with a good light and magnifying glass.  Pay special attention looking for corrosion.

What gets greased verses oiled?  What type of grease goes where?  I use several types of grease for different reels and conditions.  Screws and screw holes, plates and interiors get a marine grade grease that stays where you put it.  A light coat is needed to prevent corrosion.  Drags get a different grease.  I use Cal’s the old stand by.  I use it on all Carbon drag washers.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Saltwater intrusion under the drag washers destroys washers and main gears.  Fast oil such as TSI-321 is used on all spool bearings.  I grease all others with a marine grade grease.

Lastly, use the right tool for the job.  In many small reels and spinning reels, the screws are tiny and soft.  Using the right fitting tool makes a world of difference and can either make your maintenance a success or utter frustration when removing a stripped screw.  A good indicator when considering buying a used reel is to look at the condition of the screws.  If they are mangled and marred chances are the previous owner did not have the right tools.  Or worse yet, who ever he paid to do service on it did not use the right tools.  Be cautious as this could be an indicator of what is on the inside.  That being said, I have seen reels that appear to be unused on the exterior, only to find that the interior has been completely corroded from a lack of grease and oil.   Good luck and keep it clean, and green!


Surf Blasters

While I was in Florida I became interested in fishing the miles of ocean beaches around Daytona, New Smyrna and Ponce Inlet.  It was a new type of fishing for this farm boy fishing small streams and rivers flowing up.  The concept of cast and wait was new to me.  The concept of casting 4 oz and bait into the wind was new to me too!  Needless to say the learning curve was steep.

However, once I got the right gear and practiced, getting the gear out to the fish in the right area was easier.  11-12′ rods with ABU 6500 CT sized reels, spooled with 50b braid and 30lb shock leaders handled everything from Bluefish to Sharks to 5′.  I am convinced now that casting technique and having the reel properly set up is the key to happiness fishing the surf.

I researched long distance casting and landed on the CT frames from ABU and a custom one piece frame out of England, called the QTC.  The QTC is solid as a rock and will not torque under load.  Free spool is excellent.  The ABU frame converted CT with SS bar is strong but not the same as then piece frame.  I put after market mag control on each of them to control them in the changing conditions at the beach.

Good clean bearings, carbon matrix drags, ground flat drag washers, with 6:1 gears.  I upgraded the handles to counterbalanced power handles with larger knobs for more cranking power and it is appreciated when you hook the beast.




Abu Garcia Surf Casting Beast

When we were living in Florida I became interested in surf casting on the beaches of Daytona, New Smyrna and Cape Canaveral.  I was not prepared for surf casting having moved from the Pacific NW for the type of gear required for enjoying the surf and jetty.  The salt water destroyed my Shimano Calcutta in very short time.  My rods were under sized for the task.  I started by buying some long surf fishing rods from 11-13 feet.  I had some old Abu Garcia’s from the 80’s that would do the job.

I started doing research on distance casting techniques and gear.  I was always looking for more distance.  Abu makes the 6500 series that holds the right amount of line but the frames are anything but sturdy.  I settled first for a 6500 with no level wind.  I found a nice magging system out of England and installed it.  I used it for a while but always felt like I was the under dog when hooking into any thing that was of any size.  Not to take anything away from light tackle fishing!  But these fish needed more and stronger reels.

The distance casting champions seemed to migrate to the QTC machined aluminum frames for the 5500 and 6500 sized ABU reels.  Once piece frames super strong and no twist.

I upgraded the drags and drag plates, and put a better handle and knob on it and sure enough I had build the surf casting beast.  Spooled with 40b braid and a 30lb  shock leader, this reel was perfect.  I could easily cast my 4 oz+ bait as far as needed into the surf.


From 2lb Blue fish to 4 foot black tips, this little reel handled them all with ease and very few backlashes.  The side plates were aluminum and I installed a mag system to control the speed of the spool on windy days.  I polished the main gear, pinion and spool shaft ends.  I even polished the small brass spacers in the spool bearing caps.  Drags are very smooth and strong, free spool is awesome!  Pod Manufacturing company is the company that makes the machined aluminum frames in a variety of colors and sizes.  Two thumbs up for quality and fit!

IMG_0002 (1)



Fishing Reel Toolbox

Seems like every time I crack open a new reel the need for another tool arises.  What started as a simple few screw drivers and wrench has blossomed into a full blown fishing reel tool box!

Lately, I have been making custom Penn reels and they need a little tweek here and there.  They also have larger bearings and those bearings need grease instead of oil.  So into the arsenal goes things like sand paper, 600, 1000 and 1500 grit.  Small files, Torx bits, hex bits, vise grips, a digital caliper and some specialized tools like the Alan Tani’s bearing greaser.  Connected to a small grease gun it makes packing these bearing a breeze.

One tool that seems to be getting a work out more than I had originally anticipated is the rotary tool.  It grinds, sands and polishes with the proper attachments.  I have used it to sand down the diameter of spacers and increase inner diameters of the same with a grinding stone attachment.

Another helpful addition is a product called CLR.  It removes corrosion and gunk better than anything else I have found.  Used sparingly and quickly it makes salt water reels clean up quick and easy.







Abu Garcia 5501 Super Tuned

ABU 5501

At first glance this appears to be a stock ABU Garcia 5501 C3.  However, looks can be deceiving.  We have all seen the  plain old car that has a 454 under the hood!  I start with a straight stock eBay Abu 5501.  Very capable little reel that is very popular.   At a list price at $125.00 new, I paid  $33.00 on eBay for this one.  Take this modestly priced bait caster and make it the undercover muscle car!  Parts list from Jerry at

  1. Dual bearing worm drive $21.00
  2. Dual bearing cog wheel $15.00
  3. Smooth drags Carbon tex $7.50
  4. Stainless Steel Drag Washers Ground Flat $7.50
  5. Ceramic Pawl $5.00
  6. Abec 5 Ceramic Hybrid Bearings $16.00
  7. TSI 321 bearing oil
  8. Cal’s Drag Grease
  9. Yamalube Marine Grease

Total Investment $97.50

IMG_6357 copy

Reel, Worm Drive, Cog Wheel, Drags, Pawl, and Bearings… $97.50  That is a net savings of nearly $25.00 and the final product puts the reel in a class of $200.00 reels for half the price!

So now the fun!  I will take you through step by step the process I follow to tune these reels into smoother, faster, more reliable,  stronger fishing machines.

Initial notes on the reel:

  • Condition was average
  • No noted rust or corrosion on exterior
  • Needs oil
  • No noises or grinding
  • Schematic Printed
  • Upgrades ordered
  • No additional parts needed









Fishing Reel Jewelry


The line between benefit and cosmetic is blurred with all the options available to the fishing reel enthusiast.  Handles, knobs, star drags, spool tension caps, locking nuts… the list seems endless!  Nearly everything can be customized on your fishing reel.  Here is a list of custom parts providers:

  • Tsunekichi
  • Engine
  • I’Z Factory
  • Hedgehog Factory
  • ZPI
  • Bassart
  • Deps
  • Dress

These products are available through the Japanese providers such as:

Samurai Tackle

JDM Tackle


Japan Tackle

Hedgehog Studios

Give your favorite reels a Christmas gift!






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



Greasing Carbontex Drags

Upgrading your standard factory drag washers with Carbontex is a simple upgrade that delivers superior results.  The benefits are more drag pressure and smoother drag performance.   Old drags start with a jerk and get sticky throughout the whole range of pressure.  This can lead to lost fish and broken lines and dreams.

Carbontex drags from perform better at all drag pressures and as a bonus, when lightly coated with Cal’s drag grease, greatly decrease start up.  No more sticky drags, no more broken lines or pulled hooks.  Just as the name suggests, silky smooth drags at all settings.  So how much grease is needed?  The answer is always less than you think.  Make sure to coat both sides completely with just enough that you can see your finger print in the grease.  That’s all you need.  Putting on more just means you will have more to clean out of a reel at the next service and could lead to grease contaminating other oiled areas of the reel.