and I love our Shimano Baitrunners. Arby has even been known to say that he
wants to be buried with his! They are quite versatile, sturdy reels that offer
the advantage of dual drags, allowing a great variety of options for use in
various fishing scenarios. I have a BTR-4500 that is about five years old, and
a BTR-3500 that I bought the spring of 2002. Arby has a couple of the BTR-6500
series, and in a temporary moment of insanity, sold his only BTR-4500.
regular maintenance is the key to long life and dependable performance of these
reels, we have decided to pool our knowledge and develop this article. Cleaning
and maintaining most reels is not that difficult, but some may get intimidated
by the dual drag system, and therefore, are hesitant to attempt do-it-yourself
maintenance on the Baitrunner. If you follow the steps below, you will find it
quite easy and satisfying, and allow you to keep your reel in top condition.
Besides, it can help pass the time of those cold winter days, when you can only
dream about the suds.
majority of the credit for this procedure belongs to Arby, as I learned how to
do it most of it from him. I have added some comments and ideas that I have
learned from both observations and mistakes that I have made while cleaning my
Baitrunners. While this is not a total tear down, if it is performed on a
routine basis, you will eliminate the need of a total tear down, unless you
have had a fishing disaster!
Cleaning the Shimano Baitrunner
What You Will Need to Clean your Baitrunner
How To Clean the Bail Arm and the Top of the Reel (Under the Spool)
Good Set of Small Screwdrivers (Both
Flat Head and Phillips Head). Do not use cheap ones. Remember, many of the outer
screw have seen a lot of salt, and may be a little corroded, making the metal a
bit softer. A quality set of screwdrivers will allow you to remove and
recondition the screws without stripping the heads.
- White Lithium Grease. This can be purchased in a hardware store or automotive parts
store. A small tube will go a long way.
for sand and grease removal, and reapplication of grease
or 4 Solder Flux Brushes. I have found that in some areas of the reel, the
fiber from the Q-Tips will snag on the gears or other
sharp components. If you use a Solder Flux Brush
(it is also called an Acid Brush), you
can avoid this. You can trim the outer bristles of the brush on both sides to
make the tip as skinny as you need to get into tight areas.
for both lubrication and old grease removal.
cardboard beer or soda case flat. I use this to spray the reel with WD-40 in.
It captures the excess and
can be easily disposed of.
tape to help keep the screws sorted with the parts they go with.
small cardboard box or plastic container to hold the disassembled reel parts.
couple of soft, non-tufted, cotton clothes. I find tufted cloths such as
dishrags or washcloths have a tendency to snag on gears and sharp components. A
piece of old bed sheet or "bunting" cloth works well. Bunting cloth can be
obtained in the food gadget section of a supermarket or drug store.
pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers for handling small screws and washers.
This is especially important if you have "chubby" fingers, as I do. I prefer
source of fairly high-pressure tap water. If
you desire, a can of compressed air (the type they use to clean off computer
keyboards and components.) This can be handy for removing sand from bearings.
- Remove screw on side plate to the bail arm.
- Tape the screw to the bail arm side plate to keep them together, and place them in your parts container.
- DO NOT
TURN THE SPOOL while the side plate is off, or you will be on your hands and knees searching for the bail trip lever and bail trip lever spring!!!! (I did that, and when I told Arby, I am sure he sat there shaking his head!)
- There will probably be LOTS of sand in here. Clean out
the sand with a cloth, Q-Tip and/or solder brush.
- Remove the bail trip lever spring, noting the holes
where the spring engages the bail trip lever and the reel body. Place the
spring in your parts container.
- Turn the spool slowly, and the bail trip lever should
come free. Remove it and wipe it free of sand and grease. Place the bail
spring lever in your parts container.
- Using a Q-Tip or solder brush, wipe out the sand from
the case under where the bail trip lever goes. Be sure to get the "rails"
where the lever moves up and down.
- On this side, where the bail attaches to the reel,
there is an "e-clip" on the inner side. Remove this clip and slowly pull
the bail away, noting the orientation of the bail trip cam. Clean this
area of sand. Grease and replace the bail, cam, and clip.
- Remove the Drag Knob and take off the spool. Using a
rag and/or Q-Tip or solder brush, clean any sand from the bottom of the
spool, and the reel case under the where the spool goes. Set the spool
- Notice and unscrew the large nut in the center of the
spool spindle. You will need to remove the hold down screw first or you
will not be able to turn it. Place the hold down screw in your parts
container. The large nut will loosen, but will not come all the way off of
- Separate the top by pulling forward. It will not
completely come off the reel but that’s good enough.
- Notice the thin wire loop that is actually the
anti-reverse spring. It must go over the top of the metal piece. If it has
slipped off, it is easy to reposition it.
- Using a flux brush, remove as much of the old grease
and sand as possible. I find this important to do before using water to
wash out the sand, or you just push the grease and sand further in.
- Flip the anti-reverse lever a few times and clean out
the grease on the cam.
- Since I prefer to water wash and then WD-40 all the
parts at once, I now go to the main side plate and get into the guts.
How to Remove the Side Plate and Clean the Guts
- Remove the handle. To remove the handle on the 4500,
just turn it the opposite way than you would if you were retrieving line.
To remove the handle on the 3500, unscrew the cap at the opposite end of
the handle, and then pull the handle off. (That is how mine are, either
method may work for any series, depending on the vintage of your
- Look at the Baitrunner arm. You will see that the Baitrunner
arm will cover one of the screws on the
side plate. Notice the Phillips head screw on the opposite side of the
Baitrunner arm. Remove
this screw and separate the Baitrunner handle. This may seem difficult if the
Baitrunner Arm is very
dirty. If so, place a flathead screwdriver under the bottom of the Baitrunner
arm (near the pivot point) on the side opposite of where you took the screw out.
Pry it up, and it will pop off. (This may take some pressure. I had to call
Arby at this point, because I was unsure, and thought by forcing it, I would
break it. Be assured, it will pop off!) Put the screw and the removed side of the handle together and place them
in your parts container.
- Remove the 4 side plate screws and the side plate will come
off. Notice that the one screw that was blocked by the Baitrunner arm is
smaller than the others. Be sure to put the correct screw in this spot when you
- You are into the guts. On the spindle of the handle, there is
a bearing. There is usually a lot of sand on this bearing and the handle
spindle. Remove this bearing and clean it with a cloth. On my 3500, this is a
sealed bearing. On the 4500, it is an open bearing, and the sand can get jammed
between the balls. (Am not sure if the type of bearing is inherent to the
Series, or if it was an improvement with the newer Baitrunners.) This is where
the can of compressed air comes in handy. Clean the bearing well and place it
in your parts container.
- On the handle spindle under the bearing you just removed,
there are two or three thin washers. Remove them and wipe them clean. Place
them in your parts container.
- On the opposite side of the reel, there is another bearing
at the end of the handle spindle. Unfortunately, this bearing cannot be removed
without a total tear down. Clean any sand you can get to with the edge of a
cloth. Again, the compressed air comes in handy here.
- Using a Q-Tip and/or your solder brush, remove as much old
grease in the guts of the reel as possible. I wipe the brush on a piece of
cloth every so often to clean it.
- Using fairly high-pressure tap water, wash off any sand that
you missed inside the guts, under the spool area, and in the bail arm area.
Shake the reel free of excess water.
- At this point, I prefer to let the reel completely air dry
before proceeding. If you are in a hurry, however, the WD-40 in the next steps
will displace most of the water.
- Place the reel in your cardboard beer/soda flat. WD-40 the
entire area inside the guts, in the bail arm trip lever area, and under the
spool to remove the old grease. Pay special attention to the area of the
anti-reverse spring because it gets pretty hard there. I actually soak it
pretty well and let it sit for five to ten minutes, then drain out the excess
and give it another squirt, and drain again.
- Wipe down the reel with a clean cloth to remove any excess
WD-40 from the outer surfaces of the reel. BE CAREFUL handling the reel at this
point, it can be pretty slippery, and you do not want to drop it!!!
- Re-grease the guts of the reel using a clean solder brush.
Pay special attention to the gear on the front and the bar on the back that
moves back and forth when the handle is turned. You can rotate the spool and
you will immediately see what we are talking about. It will look like a piston (picture above). A
small amount of grease goes a long way. You are not packing the reel with
grease, only lubricating it. It is a good idea to rotate the spool every so
often to distribute the grease and expose ungreased areas.
- Put a small amount of grease (just a very thin film) on each
of the handle spindle washers and replace them.
- Put a small amount of grease on the handle spindle bearing
and replace it
- Spray the side plate screws with a small amount of WD-40 and
wipe them off.
- Replace the side plate and the side plate screws,
remembering to put the smaller screw in the hole that will be underneath the
- Turn the reel over and lightly grease the handle spindle
bearing on the opposite side.
- Replace the handle and handle cap.
- Back up top to under the spool, re-grease the metal arm
under the anti-reverse spring.
- Flip the anti-reverse lever a few times to distribute the
- Grease the point where the arm goes up and down when you
turn the spool.
- Re-assemble the top of the reel.
- Lightly grease the rails that the bail trip lever moves on.
- Lightly grease the bail trip lever. Just a very thin coat.
Replace the lever.
- Reinstall the bail trip lever spring. It only goes in one
way. Touch with a very small dab of grease.
- Again, DO NOT TURN THE SPOOL at this point, or you will be
looking for the bail spring again!
- Open and close the bail. The metal piece in there should now
move back and forth freely
- Put the side plate back on.
- On the other side, remove the screw on the bail itself.
Remove the roller and WD-40 the entire area.
- Re-assemble the roller and the roller should now turn
- Remove the screw of the side plate on the roller side of the
bail. You may want to skip this part if you do not want to fiddle with the other
bail spring, but some sand can build up in here. Notice the orientation of the
bail spring. Remove the screw on the inner side of the bail. Remove the bail
spring. Clean this area of sand, and replace the bail spring. It may take a few
times to get it back in the right position.
- Replace the side plate.
- Wipe the entire reel with a clean cloth.
- Put a dab of grease on the lever on the bottom of the
aluminum spool. (This is the drag clicker.)
- Replace the spool.
© 2003 S. Panus, Editing © StriperSurf.com
YOU ARE DONE!! Of course, at this point you may want to strip the line,
clean up the exterior of the spool, and re-spool with fresh line. In between
this total maintenance, be sure to rinse them with fresh water after every
So there you have it. Treating your
Baitrunners to this tender loving care once or twice a year will help them give
you many years of fishing pleasure, and guarantee that they are in top
performance mode when you hook into that fifty pounder!
© 2003 - 2012 R. Bernknopf, S. Panus and StriperSurf.com - All Rights Reserved