Modifying you bait casting fishing reel is a technical art on its own. It does not only involve replacing bits and bobs of your fishing reel with upgrades, but also looking for the feel that you want for the technique of purpose that you desire. Modifying your fishing reel will improve your casting skills and this will improve your fishing experience.
Our friend Daniel when he is not fishing he is busy modding his gear. He is a firm believer of pushing things to its limit and this is one way to get more out of your already standarg fishing gear.
Recently a couple of anglers asked me about bearings for bait caster. More specifically, removing the seal/shield of the bearing. I will be addressing bearings for a bait caster and not for a spinning reel as some spinning reels have their cage exposed but that's a different topic altogether.
So what's the hype with removing the seal/ shield?
Simple, it spins faster and it looks cool! That was what I thought when I first saw an exposed bearing and I'm also sure that's what what goes through a lot of peoples' mind but it's actually quite the opposite.
So why do expose the bearings on my bait casters? I can't measure if it spins faster but I do feel that it spins more freely but here's the catch:
It does not stay that way for long.
The seal/shield of a bearing as the name itself implies shields the bearing from dirt and at the same time, helps retain oil longer within the races. Exposing the bearing would mean that the user must be prepared to clean service their bearings (usually side plate and spool) regularly because dirt builds up very fast.
Secondly oil cannot be contained for long. I only remove seals on my BCs that I use for saltwater. Having exposed bearings enables me to clean my bearings and ensure that there is no trace of any salt deposits but it has become a ritual (or a chore whatever you wish to call it) for me to clean my bearings.
The number one cause of bearing failure is rusting of the balls within the cage.
The benefit of cleaning exposed bearings is that it's extremely easy. I just run them under a tap, leave it to dry then put a drop of oil and I'm done all done!
One thing to take note, removing the bearing will make your BC noisier during a cast and it's especially loud when using ceramic bearings. For ceramic bearings, I run them dry meaning that I do not oil them.
I do not encourage removing the seals unless you know what you're doing since it's difficult or sometimes impossible to reinsert them so practice at your own risk. If i can recall most service centers will not warranty the bearings once they're tempered.
With that aside, there are generally 2 types of bearings used on a BC. Stainless steel and ceramic balls. If you notice above I kept mentioning seal/ shield. This is because stainless steel bearings usually have shields whereas ceramic bearings have seals (aka orange seal).
Below is some visuals to aid in your modification
Regular stainless steel bearing with shield intact. Removing the shield is easy. Just locate the C-clip and dig it out with a needle. After removing the C-clip, the shield should pop right out. If it doesn't then just use the needle to pry it lightly.
Locating the C-clip and point (gap) where you can use the needle to dig it out
Exposed stainless steel bearing on my Daiwa Laguna. I did the same to the sideplate as well.
Boca ceramic ABEC 7 OS. The orange seal is even easier to remove. Just take a needle on the dig between the races. The seals are rubber so just run the needle underneath and pop the seals right out. This belongs to my Promax2 and since I use it for freshwater, I leave the seals on.
Exposed orange seals on my Revo Elite 8 which I use for saltwater as well.