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Levelwind reel blowout...myth or fact?

Old 02-14-2011, 09:47 PM
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My Penn 320 levelwind first started "jumping" away from the right side of the spool and not loading that side properly after a big 'cuda off the pier. Then since it was under-loading one side and overloading the other, the line started covering itself and getting stuck, messing up the drag.

Then the whole thing seized up. I tried removing the levelwind, but by that point the whole thing was shot and I threw it away. The whole process took 1 good 'cuda and one good bonita.

My old "made in usa" 113's and 114's with no levelwind have never had that problem.
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Old 02-15-2011, 05:59 AM
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Since I've been repairing reels and using them hard for many years my take on level winds is pretty simple. They're a very handy proposition when they're working properly. I'd much rather hand one to a beginner than a reel that needs to be level wound by the user with a fish on. Once you've learned how to handle the gear the level wind isn't really needed... Here's the real problem with them. If it ever fails (and mechanical stuff will fail eventually) it will certainly cost you a fish. If they're maintained properly and any worn parts (particularly the pawl, the thing that guides the level wind back and forth, and the worm, the horizontal bar that the pawl rides in) are replaced before they can fail. When you get down to smaller conventional reels, the plug reels that every bass fisherman knows how to use, (and they're more and more common on the salt every day) you just can't do without a level wind since the spools are so small. Those level winds suffer from the same shortcoming as larger level winds - you have to maintain them and keep them in good order or they'll fail on you (usually with a good fish on...).

The only things an angler can do to keep them in good working order is to keep the level wind clean and use a light oil, just one or two drops, to keep them working properly. Avoid anything like "Three in One" oil since it turns to glue as it gets older. I prefer a high quality gun oil like Gunslick or Break Free...
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:44 AM
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You guys wouldn't even let me in the discussion if you knew what I've caught over the past few years. I think my old Zebco 202 would have handled them.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:59 AM
  #24  
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How many times have I seen someone "high center" the line on the spool, due to angler inattention, resulting in a bound up spool? Far more times than I can remember. Heck, I've even done it myself, and I've been fishing non-levelwind reels for thirty years.

How many times have I seen a level-wind mechanism fail? Zero.

That being said, the only "heavy" level wind reels that I use are Penn 320GTI's, and I never use more than 8 lbs. of drag on them.
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Old 02-16-2011, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by abfish View Post
How many times have I seen someone "high center" the line on the spool, due to angler inattention, resulting in a bound up spool? Far more times than I can remember....

How many times have I seen a level-wind mechanism fail? Zero.

That being said, the only "heavy" level wind reels that I use are Penn 320GTI's, and I never use more than 8 lbs. of drag on them .
Seems like the bulk of responses fall in with this post and lemaymiami's, ie., pretty much no problems and keep them maintained.

I appreciate all the responses...especially since they're mostly positive and I own a bunch of Penn levelwinds. I like the idea of good quality gun oil for the levelwind mechanism that lemay' mentioned. It makes good sense.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:12 AM
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I'm sure that Okuma use to or still makes 30's with a levelwind. They may

have even made a 50 sized reel with the level wind. But I can't remember for sure on

the 50's. chris
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:20 PM
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I have 320 and 330 GTIs that we used for years with the level wind. We never had a problem. One winter I decided to improve them. I removed the level wind and upgraded the handle & drag washers. They are better reels now, smoother, lighter, and the drags work better. I would not even consider putting the level wind mechs back on, but I still have them :-)
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:39 PM
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Had the level wind break on my Okuma classic 300. Had 30 lb mono and it was a trolling setup. It stopped moving while fighting a bonnto and was not fun when the spool started jamming. Took off the level wind and it works fine just have to thumb it like the rest. There is probably a reason they dont make 80 or 130 wides with a level wind. Love them on my jigging setups.
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:51 PM
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Had a couple of 330gti's way back when. First time I got my finger caught in the gear was the last time! Sold them on EBAY immediately. OUCH!
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:52 PM
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I have a bunch of level wind reels - 320GTI's, 330GTI's and 975 internationals. My 975's are strapped to St. Croix casting rods and I actually use them for chunking striped bass. I had a 320 skip the track once which was an easy repair with no parts and one of my 975 had one of the gears the run the levelwind loose a few teeth when a 40+ lb bass was tearing out line so fast the levelwind was having a hard time keeping up.

I called PENN and they sent me a new gear for a few bucks. What bothers me though is why an international reel has plastic gears?
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Justin_NJ View Post
What bothers me though is why an international reel has plastic gears?

So when your finger gets caught the plastic breaks and not your finger.
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:27 PM
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I do reel repairs and have replaced alot of parts of levelwind mechanisms over the years on various reels....The simple fact is that a levelwind has moving parts and whenever there are moving parts, they will wear and eventually fail.

Even a levelwind on a well cared for reel can eventually fail for various reasons. The main cause is the pawl and/or the worm gear will wear down over time due to use.
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Door#3 View Post
I have 320 and 330 GTIs that we used for years with the level wind. We never had a problem. One winter I decided to improve them. I removed the level wind and upgraded the handle & drag washers. They are better reels now, smoother, lighter, and the drags work better. I would not even consider putting the level wind mechs back on, but I still have them :-)
I have wondered how this would work out. Glad to see it's a positive experience. Nice move upgrading the drag washers.

Originally Posted by ReelSmith
I do reel repairs and have replaced alot of parts of levelwind mechanisms over the years on various reels....The simple fact is that a levelwind has moving parts and whenever there are moving parts, they will wear and eventually fail.

Even a levelwind on a well cared for reel can eventually fail for various reasons. The main cause is the pawl and/or the worm gear will wear down over time due to use.
Yeah lemay' also said the pawl and worm gear were the usual culprits. Makes sense. It's pretty cool how it works, but I can see how it could "skip the track" as Justin said or wear out.
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Old 02-18-2011, 03:03 PM
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I have 2 Penn 320s and have had to get them serviced twice, I also have an
Abu LW that I had to have fixed as well. Next time the LW goes I'm taking them off.
I won't buy another LW. Guess I'll just have to fish!
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:43 AM
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Had 2 Level Wind GT-330s fail after about 5 yrs of use, took it to the "fix my reel" place, the idle gear and spool gear needed replacing... $1.50 each...

So. basically.. no big deal
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Old 02-19-2011, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by NCcarguy View Post
You guys wouldn't even let me in the discussion if you knew what I've caught over the past few years.
Crabs at your local topless club don't count....


I use them for bottom fishing when taking newbies out more than anything. I would rather use open frame for my trolling since wahoo are a staple here.

I have locked 2 of them up while trolling and let them pull reef fish now.

Pinched my fingers in my 325's more than I care to think about and I personally usually don't use them just for that reason.
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