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How to Cope with Failing Fishing Reel Anti-Reverse Bearings

By John Strenk
One of the greatest things to come to the world of fishing reels was the implementation of a one way roller bearing, or anti-reverse bearing, into spinning and casting reels. These bearings, now found in most all of the modern fishing reels, provide for a solid retrieve with near zero back play in the handle.

The new systems are a far cry from the older ratchet style anti-reverse systems which only catch in certain spots when you turn the handle backwards.

The anti-reverse bearings can and will fail over time, as with many of the highly used parts in a reel system. The issues always start as an intermittent issue. You will be fighting a fish and the handle will take a 1/4, 1/2 or even a full revolution backwards, and then lock up again as if nothing happened. This may not happen again for several trips, or it may happen again later in the day. These intermittent issues are always a sign of pending complete failure. When you notice any intermittent issues with the one way bearing, it is time to consider having it replaced.

Many reels now, like the Shimano casting reels, are going to a backup system in the event of one way bearing failure. This is an extremely great idea and an asset to us as fisherman. They implemented something called an "Assist Stopper", which is the old style anti reverse technology which kicks in if the bearing decides to fail during a fishing trip. Without such an "Assist Stopper", when your one way bearing would fail, you were done fishing with that reel until you replaced the bearing.

John Strenk is the owner of The Reel Tech and specializes in expert fishing reel and fishing rod repair, as well as beautiful hand crafted custom fishing rods. John is an avid outdoorsman; fishing and hunting are his passions. He has experience in long range offshore fishing, tournament fishing, freshwater fishing, and everything in between. His love for the gear we use, and his attention to detail shines through in the work he does. He resides in Medford, OR, in the beautiful Rogue Valley with his lovely wife Jennifer.

Visit John's website and blog or give him a call at 541-324-0346 if you need reel repair or a new fishing rod.

[Editor's Note: Please share with our readers what you know that will enhance the experience of fishing, hunting or boating in Northern California or Southern Oregon. What have you learned? Your expertise, no matter where you fish (fresh or saltwater) or what species you target, could be invaluable to other anglers. What not to do is just as important as what to do. Please send your strategies, ideas, tips, techniques and personal experiences to Please include your name and hometown.]

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