The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur fishing reels can cast a mile, as well as haul in monster catfish and they’ll stand up to decades of use and abuse and keep on performing.
Keeping your fishing reels clean and well lubricated assures optimum performance. If you don’t have the time or the desire to take your catfish reels apart, your local reel repair shop will clean reels for around 20–30 bucks each. If you like to tinker, taking apart an Abu reel is relatively easy, if you keep some key points in mind.
Here’s a guide to cleaning your fishing reels. As always, one may find some easier methods, but here’s my method.
These basic steps for cleaning and lubricating a fishing reel will work for all baitcast fishing reels. Some of the parts may have slight variations but the overall process will be the same.
Here’s how to clean and lubricate an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur fishing reel.
Big thanks to Steven Gonzales for the assistance with this post!
Tools and Supplies Needed
Here’s what you’ll need to get started cleaning your fishing reels.
- 10mm open-ended wrench
- Flat tip screwdriver
- Simple Green or Oxy Clean
- Clean towel or rag
- Something to put parts in
- A toothbrush or cleaning brush
- Cal’s Drag Grease
- Ultrasonic Cleaner (Optional)
- Replacement Parts (As Needed)
If you find parts need to be replaced during the cleaning process you can find parts readily available on eBay or even through your local bait and tackle shop.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for or need a reel schematic most of the Abu Garcia Schematics are available online through Abu Garcia.
Southwestern Parts and Service is also a great resource for schematics and parts.
You can use any reel lube and oil that you prefer. I use a variety of lubricants but the Abu Garcia brand products work well because they do their job well and can be found at most stores.
From my screwdriver kit, I only use the 1.4mm flat tip and the #1 Phillips screwdrivers. The extra flat tip screwdriver is available in the event that the 3 thumbscrews are too tight on the Abu faceplate, but most importantly, for the pawl cover.
To clean the parts you can use Simple Green or Oxy Clean. Be careful not to get any overspray on to your line, unless your cleaning agent is biodegradable. This reduces the chances of affecting the properties of your line.
If you’re really going to be cleaning a lot of reels you can use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean the parts. We’ve gone to this system because the volume of fishing reels to clean it really helps expedite the process and the investment is minimal if you buy one like this. We use a mixture of water and a small amount of Simple Green and it makes the cleaning process a breeze.
Before you begin, you don’t have to remove your fishing line, just put a piece of electrical tape on the line. This comes in handy when putting the reel back together because it keeps your loose line from getting caught between the spool and the frame. If it’s time to change out your fishing line then go ahead and remove it. Here’s an awesome DIY fishing line stripper you can build for pennies.
Don’t forget to work in a well-controlled area. There are a few tiny parts, and they can easily be flung off….never to be seen again.
We’ll break the reel down into 4 major parts:
All parts are referenced as if you are holding the reel in the casting position, with the level wind pointed away from you.
How To Clean Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Fishing Reels
Although we’ll begin by removing the right faceplate first, we’ll go over this part of the reel last. This section has the most moving parts and consumes the majority of the percentage of your time when cleaning the reel.
Start by removing the 3 thumbscrews on the right faceplate. Use a flat-tip screwdriver, if the screws are too tight. The right faceplate assembly will come off the frame and the spool will come off the spool axle.
Next, remove the 3 screws on the left faceplate with a #1 Philips screwdriver.
Clean out the faceplate of any dirt and debris. Check the teeth on the cogwheel to ensure that the gear isn’t stripped. Apply the grease/lube along with both sets of teeth on the cogwheel. I put one drop of oil in the axle seat (hole in the faceplate) and one on the cogwheel spindle. You can set this faceplate aside because that’s all there is to that piece.
Now, we will work with the level wind. Turn the worm gear, so the line guide moves all the way over to one side. You’ll need to do this in order to clear the reel foot with a screwdriver. Remove the pawl cover with the screwdriver. Pull the pawl out from the line guide assembly, taking care not to lose it (small part).
Slide the worm gear clip off of the worm gear and set this piece aside. Pull out the worm gear and the entire assembly will come apart.
Again, take care, here. The worm gear sleeve at the other end of the worm gear cover could come loose (small part). If you have a C4 reel, you will have a bearing in place of the sleeve.
Clean off any dirt or old grease. Run a cotton swab through the worm gear cover and line guide to get out any dirt or debris. Clean the pawl tip as well, since this is what runs through the grooves on the worm gear.
As far as the frame is concerned, I usually clean it for cosmetic purposes, but you really don’t want any dirt in and around the ingress points like where the spool makes contact and where the worm gear cover sits. The thumb guard snaps on, and you can remove it to give it a more thorough cleaning.
Let’s put this assembly back together:
On the worm gear itself, put one drop of oil on the tip and one drop on the white collar just below the gear. Slide the worm gear into the worm gear cover. When sliding the assembly back into the frame, remember that the worm gear is tabbed, so it will flush into the frame when seated correctly. If the plastic sleeve fell out of the worm gear cover, make sure it’s oriented correctly. If you have problems seating the assembly, usually, it’s because the sleeve is backward.
Here’s where having a third hand comes in handy. Slide the complete worm gear assembly back into the frame. While it may take a little patience and some finger fumbling, you want to remember 3 key points:
Ensure the top tip of the line guide seats inside the slot of the top frame post.
Ensure the bearing doesn’t fall out and onto the floor…..never to be seen again (yup…learned that one the hard way).
Make sure the tabs of the worm gear cover fit snugly into the reel frame on the sleeve/bearing side.
When you reinstall the worm gear clip, make sure it seats between the white collar and the gear. Flip the frame over and move your line guide back over to one side. Pop in the pawl and move your line guide slightly, until your pawl is almost flush and is inside the grooves on the worm gear. Screw your pawl cover back on and turn the worm gear to verify function.
Move the line guide to the center and place a drop of oil on either side of the line guide onto the grooves of the worm gear (here is one place that you can use two drops). Move your line guide across back and forth to spread the oil around. I also place a drop of oil in the groove on the thumb guard post, where the top portion of the line guide slides across.
Now, you are done with this section. Place this aside, and grab your spool.
Pull off the plastic spool pinion gear. Place a drop of oil on the spool bearing and pop the spool pinion gear back on.
Note: Older Abu’s may have a brass bushing instead of the bearing. I recommend replacing the bushing with a spool bearing for a much smoother reel. If you wish to do this:
Spool bearing – part number 13472
The part number is the same for the 4000 – 6000 series.
Now, flip the spool over and place a drop of oil on this bearing as well. There is no need to remove the spool brake. That’s it for the spool. Now for the good stuff…..
The spool axle is held in by a little black clip inside the spool tension knob. Loosen the spool tension knob and pull the axle out.
Using a #1 Philips screwdrivers, remove the handle cap.
Here, you will see a small C-clip. Be VERY careful with this clip. I’ve lost way too many, so I keep spares handy. This C-clip not only keeps your handle nut from getting loose but it keeps your handle gear shaft tight and down to align your gears inside the faceplate (just some FYI). If you lose this, it isn’t the end of the world, but you could notice some skipping issues with your reel. Not a fun time.
With your 1.4mm flat tip screwdriver, carefully wedge the tip in between the C-clip and the handle post. Once again, be careful not to fling this clip off into the infinite reaches of space.
Remove the handle nut with the 10mm open-ended wrench and remove the handle. There will be a handle spacer plate right underneath the handle, so take care when removing the handle.
Now unscrew your star drag. Turn your assembly over and two metal tension plates will come out off of the shaft.
Turn your assembly right side up again and remove the two inner faceplate screws. Lift the faceplate off of your brake plate assembly.
Grab the handle shaft gear and remove that entire assembly off of the brake plate post.
Remove the excess grease from the brake plate assembly. There is a little copper washer that sits on the brake plate post.
Remove any excess grease and wipe it clean. Place a small drop of oil at the base of the post and place the washer back on top of the oil.
Next, remove the drive gear from the handle drive shaft, including all the metal and felt drag washers, plus the anti-reverse bearing sleeve.
Clean off all the grease from the handle drive shaft.
Turn the drive gear upside down and you should see a black felt washer. Carefully, clean any and all excess grease and oil. Grease and oil will seep into this assembly and the washers and will cause slippage with your drag. Place that black felt washer back onto your handle drive shaft.
Wipe off any and all oil and grease from the remaining felt and metal washers.
Place your drive gear back onto the handle drive shaft.
Now, place all the washers back onto the drive gear in the order that you see in this picture from left to right.
A felt washer goes on the drive gear first, then the round washer.
Next, add another felt washer, then the round tabbed metal washer.
Finally, add the last felt washer, then the round washer with the raised collar.
On the brake plate assembly, add one more drop of oil on top of the copper washer that sits on the post, and slide the drive gear assembly back onto the post.
Apply a light amount of grease between the brake plate pinion gear and the drive gear.
Clean the anti-reverse bearing sleeve and place it back on the drive gear assembly.
Clean out the faceplate. Place one drop of oil in the axle seat and two drops inside the anti-reverse bearing.
Go back and second-check the washers on your drive gear. Make sure the washer with the tabbed ends is sitting correctly in its grooves.
Slide your faceplate back onto the brake plate assembly, minding the alignment of the push button release, so that you get a proper seat. Screw down the faceplate with the two inner screws.
Now you will be reinstalling the two metal tension plates. Orientation is important. The easiest way to remember, is that the tension plates should mimic the open and closed parenthesis shapes as they fit onto the handle drive shaft like so: ( ) The plate curving upwards should go on first, then the plate curving down.
At this point, I tighten my spool tension knob almost all the way down, because it’s easier to get to.
Screw your star drag back on.
Turn your assembly over and place a drop of oil in the hole of your metal spool pinion gear.
Slide the axle (brass collar side in) back into the spool pinion gear until you hear it click. It should do a slight lock in to the black clip inside the spool tension knob. Once it’s in, you can back off on the spool tension knob. On the inside of the metal collar that surrounds the gear/axle, place two drops of oil. You can put the drops anywhere, but I usually put them at opposite ends of each other for even distribution. This will help to lube the brake blocks on the spool for smoother casting.
Set the assembly aside for now. Grab the frame and screw on the left faceplate.
Back to the right faceplate assembly, slide your spool onto the spool axle, ensuring that the brake blocks are not protruding out of the collar and that the brake block assembly is aligned with the gear for a perfect seat.
With both assemblies oriented this way, I like to pop the frame assembly on from the top. This way, I know my spool is still seated correctly. Take care and don’t force the pieces together. Ensure your alignment is correct. Once the assemblies have snapped into place, tighten down the 3 thumbscrews.
Reinstall the handle spacer plate, with the two outer ends flat against the star drag.
Apply a drop of oil at the base of each paddle on the handle and turn the paddle a few times to spread it out.
Place the handle back on the shaft and tighten the nut with the wrench. Before re-attaching the C-clip, check the alignment of the handle nut cap.
Once again, very carefully, pop the C-clip back onto the post.
Screw down the handle nut cover and you are done!
This article is part of an ongoing tutorial on rods and reels for catfish, check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Reels and the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Rods for even more in-depth information on choosing and using rods and reels for catfish.