Periodically, as we all know, one needs to break down their fishing reel and give it a thorough cleaning, a good going-over as it were…to expose and remove a grain of sand or two from the gears…to melt away any salt deposits…to buff and shine the thing to brand new status.

Reel Schematics


If you’re new to this activity, you’ll find that it’s downright shocking to uncover what’s really inside a reel. Geez, it takes what seems a thousand parts to make that little spinning reel go round and round.

Body 1


Like the human body, I guess. I dread the thought of lifting the curtain on that nano-machine to witness the inner workings of the spleen, for instance. I mean, what does the spleen do anyway?

Well, to go on…

I had a bit of a mishap with my reel maintenance on Friday. I was in the laundry room where there’s a small work table on which I was taking the reel apart. I’ve done this before, and I am as careful as I can be, which is to say not nearly as careful as I need to be. I’m not the surgeon type, I tend to hurry a bit when I should exercise extreme caution.

In my haste I separated one thing from another, and a spring sprung loose and catapulted itself over the work table, ricocheting off my tool chest and disappearing behind the broom closet in the far corner of the room. Damn, I hate it when that happens!

1 - SpringTo make things worse, this spring was tiny, itsy-bitsy…an 1/8 of an inch long with the diameter of a toothpick. Picture a nail trimming from your pinkie cut in half and flying into the atmosphere! Good luck finding that sucker.

Do you even try? Do you unbolt the closet from the wall and manhandle it out of the corner? Really? C’mon, no way you’re going to find it. You lost sight of it as it left the table, it might not even have reached the ground at all. Maybe it’s still sailing to Jupiter. But damn, you know you’ve got to give it a try. You have to. You can’t give it up for lost without at least taking a look for it. Can you? Nah you can’t. But first…

I went online to Shimano, the reel maker, and checked-out their illustrated parts sheet to get the name and number of the spring. Then I called Tech Support. The guy was as sweet as could be, “Oh, yeah,” he said, “That kind of thing happens all the time. That spring is a tiny thing. You’ll never find it. Lemme send ya outta new one. You’ll have it Thursday sure.”

“Great, do that,” I said, “but I’m going to look for it. I just have to.”

“Do what you gotta do, man. If you find it, you’ll have an extra one on Thursday for when you clean that reel next,” he chuckled and we hung up.

It so happens that Irma, our sweet housekeeper, was here on Friday, so I figured she might be able to help me find it since Nettie wasn’t home and my eyesight is less than perfect. We huffed and puffed together and got the closet pulled away from the wall.

Dirty Corner 2

Nearly Cleaned Up.

Wow! Who knew what creepy stuff hides behind things in your home? This was the laundry room, it’s true, virtually an outside room, but still, this corner was like something from a Halloween cemetery…spiders the size of quarters, webs the size of fishing nets, lost socks and a hand towel that must’ve escaped from the dryer, plastic serving platters from last year’s holiday party that fell off the closet top who knows when, even a wiry, dead jasmine branch that found its way through the dryer vent only to die here in darkness in the sad corner of the room. And of course, there were dirt and lint hills where anything could hide, anything the size of baseball, let alone the size of a pinhead.

I couldn’t ask Irma to go into that disgusting corner. I set out alone on my hands and knees, searching by touch more than by sight. How long? Oh, twenty minutes maybe. And moments before I lost all hope, I felt a little, hard something in the very corner, concealed under a hillock of dirt. Could it be my darling spring. YES! I HAD FOUND IT!

I brought it into the light. Placed it in the my palm of my hand, damn near genuflected as I intoned silently to the Gods of luck that when things next go wonky in my life, when things don’t go my way, when the little irritants of life encroach, I’m going to remember this day and remember that I was lucky here, that I was granted a wish here, that I was rewarded for my faith in this dirty little corner of my house. (I will not mention that it was bad luck to lose the damn thing to begin with!)

Repairing Reel


Whole Reel


Back to the reel, which was in pieces. I gently, carefully, and very slowly inserted the spring into its slot. I step-by-step reassembled the rest of the reel. I oiled it. I lubed it. I gave it a quick turn of my hand. My Sahara 2500FD spun beautifully.

It’s an instructive lesson to hold dear. Some of us tend to forget the good and remember the bad. We tend to see the half-empty glass. This little spring and its little victory leap put the world back into perspective for me. I will try my damndest to keep such a world view in the forefront of my mind…

…and yet, when the new spring arrives on Thursday, I’m going to keep it in a safe place just in case my luck runs out.





3 Responses to As Luck Would Have It

  1. Jane Feddersen says:

    …and that’s one reason we don’t fish. The other being Walter will eat ’em, but he won’t kill them.

  2. Frank Z says:

    Great comment, Max. Thanks! Good luck to us and the world of small things.

  3. Gary Maxwell says:

    Regarding your question about the spleen and its purpose. If we didn’t have a
    spleen we wouldn’t be able to be occasionally “full of spleen”. I can think of no
    other use for it. Continuing…Cynthia and I had our little moment of triumph tracking down the source of a leaking washing machine. By the power of trial and
    error and super deduction we were able to fix it ourselves and thereby achieve a
    sense of satisfaction beyond our wildest dreams. Ahhh… the joy of small triumphs. xxoo

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