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Merwin: Solutions for Sticky Bails

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December 02, 2009

Merwin: Solutions for Sticky Bails

By John Merwin

One of our readers--buckhunter, if I remember correctly--brought up a problem with spinning reels a while back that I’ve been thinking about since. Simply put, it’s sometimes very hard to close the bail by cranking the handle after making a cast.

That’s because the reel’s rotor section (to which the bail is attached) is sometimes positioned right up against the internal bail trip. In that case, you can’t develop any momentum by cranking the handle to trip the bail closed. I think that’s a problem common to all spinning reels.

So what to do? First and most simply, I’d say just flip the bail closed by hand instead of trying to crank the handle. This is obviously a sure thing mechanically that has the added plus of reducing slack-line tangles at the spool.

Alternatively, you can fish with the reel’s anti-reverse switch turned off. That means that--with the bail open but before casting--you can reel backward one turn to position the rotor at the back side of the bail trip. Then, after your cast, cranking forward with the handle will give plenty of force to pop the bail closed. I do not, however, normally suggest this because fishing with the anti-reverse off invites trouble.

This may be a problem with no good answer, but those two things are what I’ve been able to come up with so far. It’s something that everybody who uses a spinning reel encounters at one time or another. So help us all out here. How do you solve it?

Comments (4)

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

Thank you for answering my question John. Once again, your simple yet effective solutions leave even an old experience angler like me humble.

It is also nice to know the little extra I spent for good quality spinning reels was not in vain.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

I have found that auto flipping reals tend to twist your line and will eventually cause a mess. It's not that difficult to flip the bail with your finger before you start reeling.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

Something I am occasionally able to do here is to pull in some industry experts on a particular question. So for this one, I asked Shimano Product Support Specialist Dan Thorburn and Shimano Reel-Products Manager Jeremy Sweet for some help. These guys are both genuine experts on spinning reels. Here's what they had to say.

Thorburn first:

"The easiest way to answer this is to tell the customer that he needs to use more speed when turning the handle. If the bail trip lever position is right against the ramp it may be difficult to overcome the spring tension. I have seen it time and time again where a customer will turn the handle ever so slowly and have difficulty closing the bail. Turn the handle a little faster to gain momentum and the bail will trip perfectly every time. If you turn the handle too slowly you simply do not have enough mechanical leverage to overcome the spring pressure and push the trip lever up the ramp.

"The bail is probably the trickiest part of the spinning reel. You need enough spring tension to keep the bail closed while fighting a fish. You also need enough tension to keep the bail open when making a hard cast. You do not want the bail to slam shut during a cast or you will end up chasing lures all day. You also do not want the bail to open while fighting a fish. This is a fine line that people smarter than me are paid to figure out.

"We added something to our reels called a friction ring. The bail trip lever slides along this ring that adds friction to the end of the lever. By using this design we can make use of a lighter spring for the trip lever. This allows for less tension when trying to close the bail. Most of the time when the bail becomes hard to shut it will be due to the bail wire being slightly out of shape. This will place more tension on the bail wire pivot opposite the bail arm. When tension is added here it acts like an additional spring that must be overcome to close the bail. The solution is to either reshape the wire or replace it depending on the design.

"Personally I close the bail by hand. This ensures that the bail is closed every time and it will help reduce line twist as you mentioned below. With simple practice it becomes very easy to do.

"I hope this helped!"

Jeremy Sweet adds:

"Well put Dan,

"The only things I would add is that our latest models of spinning reels have the lightest trip force yet the lowest amount of early trips out of any of our reels. This balance took a long time to get to using items like the friction ring that Dan has spoken about.

"Another thing that can be given to this angler is the suggestion of using a Quick Fire type reel like a Spirex. Because of the self centering bail design to have a trigger always end up at the 12 o’clock position for the one-handed casting, the anti-reverse has some play in it. This allows a subconscious back reel to gain momentum to get over the trip for those that try to trip too slowly. All of this without having to disengage the anti-reverse."

To which I can only add: Thanks, guys!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ozarktroutfisher wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

I am in the habit of always flipping the bail by hand. At least in my mind, it reduces wear and tear on reel and perhaps more of a stretch, I imagine that the vibration of the bail flip through the line could be transmitted to the fish. I have no scientific evidence of the former and figure the latter is probably scientific evidence of my own ridiculous idiosyncratic behavior.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from johnmerwin wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

Something I am occasionally able to do here is to pull in some industry experts on a particular question. So for this one, I asked Shimano Product Support Specialist Dan Thorburn and Shimano Reel-Products Manager Jeremy Sweet for some help. These guys are both genuine experts on spinning reels. Here's what they had to say.

Thorburn first:

"The easiest way to answer this is to tell the customer that he needs to use more speed when turning the handle. If the bail trip lever position is right against the ramp it may be difficult to overcome the spring tension. I have seen it time and time again where a customer will turn the handle ever so slowly and have difficulty closing the bail. Turn the handle a little faster to gain momentum and the bail will trip perfectly every time. If you turn the handle too slowly you simply do not have enough mechanical leverage to overcome the spring pressure and push the trip lever up the ramp.

"The bail is probably the trickiest part of the spinning reel. You need enough spring tension to keep the bail closed while fighting a fish. You also need enough tension to keep the bail open when making a hard cast. You do not want the bail to slam shut during a cast or you will end up chasing lures all day. You also do not want the bail to open while fighting a fish. This is a fine line that people smarter than me are paid to figure out.

"We added something to our reels called a friction ring. The bail trip lever slides along this ring that adds friction to the end of the lever. By using this design we can make use of a lighter spring for the trip lever. This allows for less tension when trying to close the bail. Most of the time when the bail becomes hard to shut it will be due to the bail wire being slightly out of shape. This will place more tension on the bail wire pivot opposite the bail arm. When tension is added here it acts like an additional spring that must be overcome to close the bail. The solution is to either reshape the wire or replace it depending on the design.

"Personally I close the bail by hand. This ensures that the bail is closed every time and it will help reduce line twist as you mentioned below. With simple practice it becomes very easy to do.

"I hope this helped!"

Jeremy Sweet adds:

"Well put Dan,

"The only things I would add is that our latest models of spinning reels have the lightest trip force yet the lowest amount of early trips out of any of our reels. This balance took a long time to get to using items like the friction ring that Dan has spoken about.

"Another thing that can be given to this angler is the suggestion of using a Quick Fire type reel like a Spirex. Because of the self centering bail design to have a trigger always end up at the 12 o’clock position for the one-handed casting, the anti-reverse has some play in it. This allows a subconscious back reel to gain momentum to get over the trip for those that try to trip too slowly. All of this without having to disengage the anti-reverse."

To which I can only add: Thanks, guys!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

Thank you for answering my question John. Once again, your simple yet effective solutions leave even an old experience angler like me humble.

It is also nice to know the little extra I spent for good quality spinning reels was not in vain.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rabbitpolice88 wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

I have found that auto flipping reals tend to twist your line and will eventually cause a mess. It's not that difficult to flip the bail with your finger before you start reeling.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ozarktroutfisher wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

I am in the habit of always flipping the bail by hand. At least in my mind, it reduces wear and tear on reel and perhaps more of a stretch, I imagine that the vibration of the bail flip through the line could be transmitted to the fish. I have no scientific evidence of the former and figure the latter is probably scientific evidence of my own ridiculous idiosyncratic behavior.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment