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.



More bearings, more maintenance!

Today’s marvels of modern engineering are producing reels that have up to 12 or more bearings!  Friction is radically reduced and smoothness is enhanced.  But man, you really need to stay on top of the maintenance to keep them optimized.  Some manufacture install Anti-rust bearings.  Don’t be lulled into thinking that they are maintenance free.  Got an Okuma spinning reel in the other day that had 9 bearings.  Two on the spool shaft, two on the line guide, two in the reel knob, pinion bearing etc… most of the bearings are exposed to the elements and need at least some oil once or twice a season.  All those bearings easily hide a failing bearing.  I thought the reel was in good shape and performing fine when I got it.  After cleaning and re-lube, wow much smoother and a huge difference.

bad bearings

ReelSpeed bearing pullers v.2

The email came from out of the blue.  It had been so long I had forgotten I was even on the list for the second generation of Reelspeed’s Miniature Bearing Puller kit.   I searched for several months last year for this device only  ever running into one dead end after another.  So this was welcome news!  For those that invested time digging out a corroded bearing from a side plate or a bearing cup, only to have damaged them both.  This tool eliminates those frustrations.

Now I can dig out the box with the plates and cups that I had given up on.  Pop those bearings out and have usable parts for spares or replacements.

Build is solid.

5 sizes of tips:

3MM,  1/8″, 4MM, 5MM and 6MM

More than adequate for my needs!

Shimano Bantam 201SG

IMG_6718     Once the hot reel for pacific northwest steelheaders, the Shimano Bantam 201SG is wonderful, light bait caster, ideal for throwing light weight lures and lead.  201 signifies a left hand version of the iconic fish killer.  I don’t know about you but I have always held the pole with my right hand and reeled with my left.  I guess I got it from growing up with spinning reels in the same orientation.  The 201sg does not have the strongest of drags even with upgraded carbon washers.  Its casts best with 10lb mono.

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)



The Penn Jigmaster 501 “Raven” Fishing Reel

The next project will be a tanked Penn 501 with purple frame and spool from Tiburon.  Black side plates form Cortex conversions.  Stainless steel guts from Pro Challenger.  5+1 Stainless steel and carbon matrix drags.  Handle and knob from Accurate.    Going to upgrade to SS gear sleeve from A stock Penn 501 from eBay.


We start with a stock Penn 501 from eBay for $50.00.  I found an Accurate power handle and knob from Berinson Tackle in Purple.  Off set aluminum handle for more cranking power $80.00

accurate handle and knob

Vintage Offshore helped with the Tiburon P21 Frame, Spool and rod clamp! Special thank you to Randy for his great service and genuine love of the gear! $150

P21 Purple

Stainless Steel Star Drag $19


Stainless Steel Gear plate, gear, pinion, eccentric and gear sleeve $109


Jigmaster 501 Gear sets and

Stainless steel and Carbon Matrix drags 5+1 Bryon Young Ultimate Upgrades $26


Bearing cups with spool bearings and black side plates from Cortez Conversions $109

IMG_0429_zpsoxvsspubBlack Side Plates.jpg


I have never focused on the costs of these upgrades but rather the value to the end product that they deliver.  Frame twist is the enemy!  By upgrading the frame and preventing twist,with a tight fitting drag sleeve this allows us to upgrade the rest of the reel with stainless steel and enhance the strength all the way around.   Where stainless steel can be used in delivering strength in critical components it is installed.  Slap the 20-30lb mono on it and bring on the bottom fish!










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









Shimano Calcutta 251


Shimano Calcutta 251

For years I used these in the drift boat on plug rods for salmon and steelhead.  Now I have moved them to my salmon bank rods and have been so impressed with their performance.  They are my go to King, Silver and Chum reels loaded with 30lb PowerPro these fish don’t have a chance. I was able to increase the drag pressure on them from stock by using greased carbon matrix drag washers.  They cast medium to heavy weights well and the backlash control is amazing after some tuning.

  • New ceramic sealed spool bearings
  • New Carbon Matrix Drag washers
  • Polished Gears
  • Polished Pinion
  • Polished spool shaft ends
  • Polished braking ring

These seem to be a little more difficult to find on eBay.  At present I could only find two online.  At $75.00 they are still a good deal.  Consider you will spend about $40.00 additional in upgrading the drags and bearings and you have a very solid, stable, reliable reel.  Price to performance is very low on this investment.  Target prices $50-$75.00 depending on condition.



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