when you buy a reel; avet, shimano, penn, daiwa, anything, you are making an investment. you do a little research, pay your money and take your choice. hopefully you've made the right choice for the type of fishing that you do. your investment should perform to the level that you expect and remain trouble free. now you need to protect and maintain your investment.
when making a decision, objective information such as drag range, freespool times, gear ratio and line capacity insures that you compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges when evaluating different reels, and can come from any source. subjective information like "years of trouble free service" can be valuable as well, but it might be important to know if the souce of that information has industry ties or conflict of interest issues.
in selecting a reel, i like to keep the discussion objective. one of the first questions i ask is about the drag range. drag range is a hard, objective, verifiable number that can't be faked, colored or exaggerated. the number of pounds of deliverable drag is important because that is what the fish sees. a fish doesn't know if you have a star drag or lever drag, single speed or two, graphite or aluminum. all it feels is drag pressure. knowing the limits of a reel is so important! the avet sx and mx are limited to 9 pounds at strike, the avet jx and lx are limited to 15 pounds at strike, before the lateral load on the right main side plate bearing makes it increasingly difficult to turn the handle. the 20/30 size trinidad, torium, saltist and saltga are limited to 15#'s of drag before you risk failure of the anti-reverse roller bearing. if you can fish at these drag settings or lower, definitely consider these reels. if you want to fish higher, consider a different reel.
the first question others always asked, however, is "which reel is better?" my first answer is always "the one that you can service yourself!" ok, you don't need to be able to rebuild a transmission to drive a car. but we're talking about fishing reels, not rocket science. the issue is one of reliability. fishing reels are not at all reliable. very few drag systems stay smooth for any lenth of time. most are stick right out of the box. how many of you have had bearing issues? let's face it, corrosion is rampant and there is very little that is done at the factory to prevent it.
the next question is "how do i maintain my reel?" the stock answer is a fresh water rinse and a blow dry. as a guy that fixes a hundred reels a month, i would say that such a maintenance program is not adequate. it keeps the outside of your reel clean but does nothing to prevent corrosion on the inside. my recommendation is that you tear down the reel completely, grease everything, and put it back together again. after hearing that, many have responded angrily, "why should i have to service a brand new reel ????" at that point, i just look down and back away slowly. trust me, such people are to be avoided.
the intial service on a reel involves a drag upgrade to greased carbon fiber, bearing service and grease everywhere to prevent corrosion. all aluminum reels are at greatest risk. i serviced 20 avets in the last 3 days. i have more to go. keep in mind that all reels have corrosion issues. also keep in mind that these issues can be prevented at the factory with more rigorous assembly specs.
the first issue is the drag washer. for reasons not explained to me, avet went from a removable drag washer to one glued to the spool of their smaller reel.
this move has been criticized by some, but not by me. it does avoid the problems created when water creeps underneath the drag washer.
or at least i THINK you can avoid corrosion issues. here is a drag washer that was glued in. note the corrosion that is starting to form along the edges. if the glue is not evenly spread underneath the drag washer, water may creep underneath and now your problems are worse.
all you need is one "high" spot somewhere underneath the drag washer and the drag will stick. you all read the discussion. i absolutely recommend cal's grease for any carbon fiber drag washer, and i recommend carbon fiber drag washers in all fishing reels.
the other maintenance issue is bearings. here's an avet that looked fine on the outside and horrible on the inside. the drag washer was badly corroded and all 6 bearings were rusted.
smaller avets have 6 bearings. to avoid problems like this, i open up the two handle bearings, the right main side plate bearing and the pressure plate bearing and pack them with grease. this way they should last forever. the problem is the pair if spool bearings. if you pack them with grease, they will not spin. if you lube them with oil and leave the shields on, any amount of water that gets past the shields be held in by those shields and the bearings will rust. my answer has been to open the bearings, clean them, lube them with corrosion x and install them open. yes, water can get in but water can also get out. part of your regular maintance program would ideally include opening up your reel after every fishing trip to relube these critical spool bearings.
newer avet reels have addressed these issues to a limited degree. here is an avet spool bearing. it is lubed, not greased, and it is sealed on the outside and open on the inside. water can still be held in if the reel is stored on it's side. i would recommend opening up all of the spool bearings.
here is a right main side plate bearing. note that newer reels have bearings that are fully packed with grease. they missed a spot and i always repack them anyway, but at least they are moving in the right direction.
here is one of the drive shaft bearings. it has a little bit of grease and plenty of room for water intrusion. once these bearings are opened and packed with grease, the failure rate for these bearings should be zero.
grease in all of the screw holes and grease on all of the non-exposed metal surfaces completes our initial maintenance program. you should now be able to go out and fish for a day, come home and rinse off the reel, shake it out, dry it off and go have a beer. if you still have some energy, crack open the reel and lube the bearings.
keep after your reel in this way and it should give you years of reliable service.