How to Fix a Fishing Reel That won’t lock? | 5 Easy Steps

Is your spinning reel isn’t locking anymore? Then you must be worried! This is a common issue that most angler faces and it happens to cheap reels mostly. Very few top-quality reels come in this phase. However, professionals know exactly how to fix a fishing reel that won’t lock. But for beginners, it is a little stressful.

Don’t stress; I am here to help you with that. In this very guide, I have mentioned some possible causes of why the reel doesn’t lock and provided solutions as well. Hope it helps you.

What are the Possible Causes and how to fix a fishing reel?

When a fishing reel isn’t locking most of the time, it is because of the broken spool or bail, or it could be the anti-reverse system of the reel or the drag system. These are the three most common issues why a reel doesn’t lock anymore.

How to Solve a Defected Bail Wire or Broken Spool?


One of the biggest reasons a reel wouldn’t lock anymore is the defective bail wire or broken spool. The spool could be damaged or rusted or bent. Other inner items such as faulty springs also can cause the problem. However, let’s look at how to fix a defective bail wire or broken spool easily.

Things you will be needing

  • Small screwdriver.
  • Pliers.
Our Recommended Combo

You might need replacement parts as well if you find anything defective. It could be the spool, spring, bail wire, anything. You don’t need to purchase any parts in advance. First, see what the condition is inside; if you see anything defective, then buy that.

Step-1: Remove the Screws

The first thing you would be doing is unscrewing the bail wire screws to remove the bait wire. Then remove the screws from the side of the pivoting arm. 

However, the screw spot varies on different reels. I hope you will figure out where the screws are and what they hold.

If your reel is new, then the screws would be intact and untouched. But if you see the screws are rusty or dull, then replace the screws with a new one, which will benefit you.

Step-2: Remove the Bait Wire

After removing all the screws, the bail wire should remove very easily. And when you remove the bail wire, check for any damage signs. Is the bail wire rusty, bent, misshaped, corroded?

If yes, then you need to replace that before the next use. If you No, then move on to the next possible cause.

Step-3: Inspect the line roller

Remove all the screws that keep the line roller, and then take the roller out. Take a look at the line roller and see if that is broken; if not, check for any sign that makes it defect. If you see it broken or damaged in any way, then replace it.

Step-4: Check the spring

When you didn’t find any defect on the line roller or in the bail arm, it is wise to look out for the spring. This component also causes the reel not to lock. From the pivoting bail, the arm side removes the spring and check it that is bent, corroded, misshaped, rusty, or damaged in any way.

Damage spring won’t let the reel function properly; replace that with a good quality spring immediately. 

Step-5: Reassemble the reel

After you have checked and replaced the items, now time to reassemble the reel correctly, most beginners often forget what to add after what, and it is natural to forget. In that case, I suggest you record the entire process so that if you forget anything, you can watch and reassemble the reel properly.

Put all the screws properly. 


Problem solved? Not Yet? Sad! Then probably it is the drag system that needs attention. However, visit here to see how you can fix a drag system quickly. 

Till confused! please watch this video.

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