Reel Tuning Tips

TUNING THE DAIWA ‘SLOSH’ 20 & 30: Tuning for both the SL20 and its larger brother the SL30 is very similar. The wider SL30 with greater line capacity can be a bit of a handful, but tuned sensibly with the right line diameter can be transformed into a pussycat.

Again, it’s a combination of bearing oil, centrifugal brakes and line level/diameter that produces the goods. The ’20 has a spool where the width is less than its diameter, so the first 50 or so yards of line coming off during the cast will not reduce the overall diameter enough to achieve much natural braking.

Filled to the lip with 15lb line an SL20 is a crack-off waiting to happen. But if you can use 15lb line you will not need the features that make the SL’s the reels they are. You can tune the ’20 to cast a 6oz lead 200 yards with 0.40mm mono and leader, or you can load her up with 30lb line, add a rubbing leader and go skull dragging over the rough stuff.

1 – To start the tuning process you with you need unscrew and remove the three cross head screws on the end-plate opposite the handle. It’s usually a fairly tight fit so don’t poke try and wedge a screwdriver under it as it will only damage it. Push the spool towards the end and it will displace the cap without fuss. Now remove the endplate to expose the spool.

2 – You will see two brake blocks mounted at this end of the spool, the bearing is under the silver spacing ring held in place by a screw. To get at the bearing you have to remove this screw. Having loosened the screw remove the ratchet ring which finally allows you to get at the bearing retaining plate and spacing ring.

3 – It can he be a tight fit, so use the appropriate end of the spool spindle to jiggle it out. Once out give it a wash in lighter petrol, allow to dry and set aside for re-oiling along with the other end bearing.

4 – The second bearing is in the opposite end plate retained by a simple wire circlip which can be removed with a pair of tweezers. With the bearing fully exposed hook it out with a piece of bent sinker wire. Soak in petrol, remove and once dry place on a piece of kitchen towel with the other smaller bearing.

5 – There is a pretty heavy spool that we want to slow down so I tend to use an EP90 gear oil, a couple of drops in each should do the trick. Remember to allow time for this thick oil to sink in the bearing past the dust shields. For lighter, distance work you can use Red Rocket Fuel, but be aware it will run pretty fast.

6 – Wipe any surplus oil from the bearings and return to their appropriate housing and refit the retaining plate, ratchet and circlip. With thick line you may get away with a single large brake block, but I strongly recommend you start with two blocks. Only after casting with it on the beach think about removing one.

7 – Line level for 18lb type line needs to be 3mm below the spool lip., plus leader. With something like 30lb straight through I would tend to load it a gnats higher and have a few casts with a plain lead to get it bedded in. By which time the level will be down to 3mm or so below the lip which is ideal.

8 – The SL30 is more likely to be used with heavier line, tune the same way but watch that line level. One final tip, it still runs too fast, add a blob of something really thick – EP140 or STP – to the spindle where it runs through the pinion gear.


The primary method of spool control on the 525 Mag is via the sliding control that operates the magnetic brakes. Secondly, the thickness of oil in the spool and shaft bearings and finally line level.

The 525 Mag has a completely different spool system from conventional beach reels allowing even more precise tuning. The spool itself has two inboard bearings which are sensitive to oil viscosity. For general shore fishing I recommend the use of either Red or Yellow label Rocket Fuel in the spool bearings. Red Label is ideal for most conditions, providing safe casting in most circumstances.

The thinner Yellow Label will result in a faster running spool. But, coupled with a high line level this may, in adverse weather conditions such as severe head wind be too fast even with maximum magnets.

In addition to the two spool bearings the shaft also runs on bearings. One is under the domed nut below the star drag while the other is in the opposite end plate under the brass spacer. Because of the reel design the oil in these bearings will also affect spool speed.
Factory filled with a fairly thick oil, it is possible to speed up the reel by flushing these bearings and re-oiling with a thinner oil. Again, Red RF is recommended for general fishing, while Yellow RF will make things even faster.

The 525 Mag spool is approx 2mm larger in diameter compared to most other current reels. This means that with the line level with the spool flange you are running the equivalent of an overloaded tournament reel. This will require more braking than normal so unless you really do need the extra capacity keep the level down to 2mm to 3mm below the inner spool flange.


The instructions shown on the leaflet accompanying the reel are aimed more at the USA and other world markets where lure fishing is the predominant method.


There should be barely discernible end float, which in the main will have been set at the factory. Should the end tension need adjusting it should be set so there is minimum but just discernible lateral movement of the spool within the frame when the reel is in free spool.


There are four ways to control a 6500 CT Mag all four need to be in harmony for things to run smoothly. They are: Oil – Centrifugal brakes – Magnets – Line level

Too thin oil requires more brakes or mags and less line, too few mags means thicker oil and more brakes, You get the picture. Having used a 6500 CT Mag for field work I would recommend the following:

Use three or four of the standard rare earth magnets, suggest you start with four and drop to three only if you need less magnet power braking. They are held in place on the metal keeper plate by magnetism alone. There are seven spaces for magnets but usually only four or five are ctually fitted. Use the positions in the centre of the plate rather than each end. The magnet holder moves via a cam action so with the mags in the middle they move further away than if fitted in the outer spaces when you slide them off as the lead gets away. I normally cast with the slide set on no 4, then ease them off to zero once the lead is well away. When will depend on many things, not least being your own style, ambient humidity and wind direction/speed.

Two drops of Yellow Label Rocket Fuel in each bearing. That’s the oil in the clear plastic tube with a red stripe that came with the reel. Remove bearings from reel and soak in lighter petrol for five minutes, remove and place on kitchen tissue. Leave for another five minutes for all traces to evaporate then add two drops of the oil and allow to soak in past the dust covers. They are pretty fast reels with this oil but should you find that three magnets and no block is too slow, very unlikely, try replacing the Yellow Rocket Fuel with Tournament grade Rocket Fuel.

Start with one of the standard items that came with the reel in the plastic bag containing the oil and spanner. You will have to balance mags v brakes for optimum performance depending on your style. You can wind off magnets but you cannot alter centrifugal brakes during the cast. Aim to use mags only in due course, but start with one block until you get more feel for how the reel tune suits your style.

This is based on 0.35mm mono. If you are using a premium co-polymer line load up to the top of the spool plus another 10 yards or so. Have a few casts with the magnets full on to stretch and bed in the line before going for the big one. The level in unlikely to drop much. If you use a standard C26 type nylon allow overfill a little more then cast make two or three gently casts with full mags. On the third cast let the lead dig in and give the line a good stretch. Rewind under normal pressure and the level should settle just above the spool lip. If you are using the new USA standard 0.32mm Stren line reduce line level by around 10 percent, corresponding to line diameter. Too much thin line means the level will not drop quickly enough during the cast to offer much in the way of natural braking.

However, all the above is of little use if the spool is out of balance. The importance of spool balance when tuning a fast spool cannot be over emphasised. You have to start off assuming the spool itself is in balance, but it is the initial line lay that invariably determines whether a spool runs like a dream or screams like a stuck pig. First time around set the knot to one side of the spool and wind the line on cotton reel fashion for three of four runs across the spool. Then concentrate on feeding it evenly across the spool and fill her up. Now tape it down with some plastic insulating tape run exactly twice round the spool. It must end immediately over where it starts on the spool, an neven overlap will put the spool out of balance. Now with the magnets slid all the way off tighten up the star drag, give the handle a good flip and put it into free spool with the spool rotating as fast as you like. It should be perfectly silent with no hint of vibration. If in doubt spin it again, place the reel on a flat surface and listen closely. If it’s out of balance it will vibrate and possibly move across the surface in extreme cases. Bad news. Wind all the line off onto another reel and rewind it but rather than an even line lay make it the opposite.Wind on the line but keep it all on the right hand side to make a hump 4mm to 5mm high, then take the line rapidly across to the left and make a similar hump there. Finally a hump in the middle and then even it all out and continue to wind on evenly as normal. Tape down the end, spin and see how it runs this time. If it’s still not right try ariations of humping left, right, middle or right, middle, left until you achieve vibration free running. You either get it right first time or it may take a little while. Balance is obtained by the lay of the first 20 yards of line. There cannot be to much importance put on this subject.

Safe casting!
Neil Mackellow

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