Over time, dirt, salt, and sand will find its way into the drag washers on your spinning reels, resulting in a “sticky” drag. A faulty drag system is one of the main culprits for breaking off a big fish. Every reel is different, so be certain to check the owner’s manual before you begin. If you didn’t save the manual, you can find cleaning instructions for most reels online.
Unscrew the spool knob, remove the spool, and use a damp paper towel to clean all visible areas.
Most reels have a hexagonal spring clip that holds the drag washers in place. Remove it carefully.
Most reels have a series of washers in the drag system. It’s important that you keep them in the proper order. Either remove them one at a time and lay them out in order, or remove them all together in a stack and clean them one at a time. Use a paper towel to remove any dirt and moisture, then clean out the spool with a cotton swab.
Lubricate the washers before returning them to the spool. It’s important to note that some reels are designed to have “dry” washers (no grease) and others require a small amount of lubrication. Refer to the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for the correct type of lubricant.