Why Is My Spincast Reel Not Reeling In?


Updated on December 8, 2022 by
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Spincast reels are easy to use thanks to their simple casting process and lack of backlash. However, even the simplest of reels run into problems sometimes. You might be out on the water, and then your reel suddenly won’t turn anymore, leaving the fish that was previously hooked on your line free to swim away and live another day. 

There are a few reasons why your spincast reel could stop reeling in. The inner parts could be damaged due to rust, too much grease, or stiffness. The problem could also be with your line if you used the wrong type of line or it got tangled. 

Here are a few reasons why your spincast reel won’t reel in and advice on how to troubleshoot each situation.

Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel

Rust In the Internal Gears

All fishing reels can rust. They have internal metal parts and spend a lot of time around water, so some spray getting into the gears is inevitable. This problem is actually very common among spincast reels. The casing around the reel traps moisture and debris in the internal gears, leading to rust while preventing fishermen from noticing the problem. When the internal gears and screws rust, they don’t turn as smoothly or at all, leading to problems with reeling in.

If it’s been a while since you cleaned and maintained your spincast reel, then rust might be the culprit. To deal with rust, try the following steps:

  1. Remove the casing and take apart the spincast reel.
  2. Using a cotton swab, gently clean away rust particles and other solid debris.
  3. Apply solvent to a clean cloth and rub over the metal parts to dissolve any remaining rust.
  4. Apply spincast reel grease and put the reel back together.

You can prevent rusting by cleaning and greasing your spincast reel every so often and by buying spincast reels with built-in corrosion protection.

Old Grease on the Crankshaft

Many guides recommend greasing your reels to prevent rust from forming and the parts from sticking. However, sometimes the grease collects and causes more problems. One place where this grease is prone to sticking is the crankshaft, or the handle that you turn to reel the fish in. When grease collects on this part, it gums up the mechanism and doesn’t allow the reel to turn properly.

To check for this issue, you will have to take your spincast reel apart. Notice if there are any build-ups of old grease. They will usually look black or grey and feel slimy to the touch. Use water and a gentle fishing gear cleaner to get rid of the grease build-up, then dry the parts before putting the reel back together.

You can prevent this problem by only applying a few drops of grease every time you lubricate the reel and by using the right type of grease.

Lack of Lubrication on the Gears

Too much grease can cause problems in the internal workings of the reel, but so will a lack of grease. If you haven’t applied grease or oil to your spincast reel, the parts will dry. That makes them prone to rusting or grinding against each other.

Make sure you lightly grease your reel after every cleaning. Use only a few drops to prevent old grease from pooling on the crankshaft and causing problems when you reel in the fish in another way.

The Line Is Tangled Behind the Spinnerhead

Sometimes, you don’t even have to take apart the reel to figure out why it isn’t working properly. Just look at your line.

The spinnerhead is the part in front of the spool that provides a buffer for your fishing line. However, it also makes it hard to see if your line got tangled. Spincast reels are prone to forming wind knots and other tangles, and fishermen often don’t notice until it’s too late. If your line is tangled, then it can’t move properly, and the reel can’t turn. 

Luckily, this problem is easy enough to fix. Just look behind the spinnerhead for any tangles and undo the knots.

You Spooled with Too Heavy Fishing Line

Spincast reels are lighter than other types of reels, which means they cannot hold heavy fishing line. If you use the wrong type of fishing line, the reel will lack the power to pull in the weight of the line and any fish attached to it.

You can use the following line weights for spincast reels:

  • 5 lb
  • 10 lb
  • 12 lb

Some spincast reels can handle up to 20 pounds, but carefully read manufacturer instructions.

Final Thoughts

If your spincast reel won’t reel properly, check that your line isn’t tangled or too heavy. Then check the interior for rust, grease build-up, or stiffness. 


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing I prefer than heading down to my local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test. My favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. My dream is to catch a Black Marlin.