Now that the reel is working it’s time to upgrade and make it nicer to use. The original reel handle on this size stradic is a smaller rubberized paddle handle. It works, but it’s not great and doesn’t hold up over time. This particular Shimano Stradic FK Reel handle knob along with being a little gritty must have been wiped down with a solvent at some point. The rubberizing was breaking down and was a little sticky. While not something that keeps you from using the reel, it definitely wasn’t enjoyable. S,o I ordered a Gomexus 41mm Power Reel Knob from eBay to replace it. After-tax it cost me $21 so for being all aluminum and having spare bearings, it’s a good deal. I know you can find them cheaper, but I needed the parts to arrive sooner for a trip.
For how cheap the Gomexus reel knobs were the quality is surprisingly good. They are machined aluminum and come with a bag of parts and bearings. Which worked out great for me because surprise-surprise the bearing was bad. Which is par for the course for every other bearing in this reel. So, first step was to take the screws out of the side plate of the reel knob.
Under that side plate, there is another screw that holds the knob onto the reel handle stem. You need to remove that screw as well; it’ll be a little tight because of a dab of Loctite. Once you got the screw out, pull everything off the reel handle stem. Under the reel knob should be a bearing some shims and a bushing. While mine was shot most should be fine, it’s up to you if you want to replace the bushing with a bearing or not. Bearings are nice because of how smooth they are, but they are also moving parts that can fail. While a bushing isn’t as smooth, but won’t freeze up either.
Once the stem of the reel handle has been cleaned of the old grease, apply some new grease. Then, follow the instructions on the paper that came with the reel knob. You need to adjust the shims you use to match the amount of play you feel in the reel handle. Once you get the reel knob to where you want you can then use a drop of blue Loctite to lock it all into place.
The Shimano Stradic FK Reel comes with fiber washers in them. While fiber washers don’t produce any less drag than carbon fiber washers, they do break down faster than carbon fiber washers. So, these are the next stock part that got replaced while HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers are originally from Penn. There are many after-market manufacturers that create HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers for all makes of reels. The benefit of the HT-100 washers is their longevity compared to fiber washers.
Fiber washers break down over time as they are used. For general wear and tear, they shed fibers into the grease, and if you run into a big fish that takes drag like crazy they can be completely destroyed. The HT-100s are made of laminated carbon fiber fabric over a fiberglass core, which makes them incredibly durable and long-lasting.
To install the new washers first, take the spool off the reel. Then, remove the drag cap of the reel. There is a spring that holds the drag stack in place, use a pick tool to gently remove it. You don’t want to yank on it and warp it. Then remove the stock drag stack, making note of the order of the steel washers and drag washers. Then wipe down all the steel washers, spring, spool, and drag cap. You want to clean off the old grease with the fibers in it.
Once everything is wiped off, use a flux brux to apply Cal’s grease onto the inside of the spool. Also, LIGHTLY coat the HT-100 carbon drag washers in Cal’s grease. Once this is all done, insert the drag stack back into the same order as it was pulled out. Then top with the spring. I like to brush a thin layer of Cal’s grease across the top of the spool and under the drag cap. This again is to keep moisture and grit out of the reel.
Total Cost of Shimano Stradic FK Reel – $156 (Reel – Partial Refund + Parts + Gomexus + Carbontex Drag Washers)
Now the reel is complete and upgraded just how I want it to be. The end total was about $156 dollars all told, and about 5 hours of work put into this Shimano Stradic FK Reel. The only reason this project was viable was because the seller was very reasonable and discounted the reel. If you’re wanting to do this exact same project, the original Shimano Stradic FK Reel has to be under $90 for it to be reasonable to pursue this. Any higher than that would be not worth it. If you got any questions feel free to reach out to me.