alan tani @ fishing reel repair rebuild tutorial TUTORIAL: progear 545/541 by mark mayo
Reel Repair by Alan Tani
March 02, 2021, 04:03:48 AM *
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Author Topic: TUTORIAL: progear 545/541 by mark mayo  (Read 38015 times)
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« on: March 26, 2009, 10:15:18 PM »

this was written by mark mayo at

Quote from: mmayo, post: 560421, member: 15379
Pro Gears of the classic variety like the 541 and 545 have been favorites of our fishing group.  We collectivley own 3-4 each and they are the first reel we grab when the bite is on.  We have caught tons of 25-45 pound albacore, 30-75 pound bluefin tuna and up to 97 pound yellowfin tuna on these reels.  Here is my 95# YFT.

They are trucks, old dependable tough trucks that catch fish.  Watch EBAY and you will see that they are still selling at near the original price when one goes up for sale.
Pro Gear 545 / 541 Service

You need a set of tools to service this reel: different-sized slotted screwdrivers, reel wrench, Cal Sheets reel grease, Penn lube, brushes to apply grease, Q-tips, blue tape to hold your line on the spool and GETSOME lubricant for the bearings.  I like to spread it all out on a paper towel or two (1).  To get the schematic that matches the key #'s try either of these links:
  Start by removing the handle lock screw (key# 31) with a small screwdriver (2) then remove the handle screw (key# 30) with the handle wrench (3).  Yes, I have made one that is more comfortable with a wooden grip because the stock Pro Gear model is all metal.  Most people tighten the handle screw a lot more than they have to.  When in doubt, a bit loose is better than too tight ‚€“ much better.  It will cost you $15 for a new bridge if you over tighten the screw.

  Remove the star drag (key#28) (4) and tension washer (key#40) (5).  These two outer screws (key# 7) hold the side plate to the reel body remove them next (6).  Be sure to use a correctly sized screwdriver to avoid scratching the reel.
  The side plate assembly will slip out now; leave it aside for later (7).  Remove the spool (Cool and watch for the bearing (key# 4) it can sometimes get stuck on the shaft of the spool if regularly serviced (9).  If you do not regularly service the reel it might be permanently stuck on the spool or in the bearing cap.

  If the bearing does not come free use a Q-tip with some of the cotton removed to remove the bearing (10 and 11).  Clean it with some kind of cleaner like contact cleaner (12) (many people use carburetor cleaner or brake cleaner on both sides. (I hate those fumes from carburetor and brake sprays more than the contact cleaner especially working inside the house with a wife).

  Be sure there is no salt water or reside in the bearing cap (13).  Oil the bearing with quality oil, check that it spins nicely and return it to the bearing cap left (key# 5) (13).  Since that bearing controls your casting ability - be sure it is in great shape!  Pro Gear bearings are great and last forever if maintained, they are direct replacements for Newell bearings and seem much better for Newell reels too.
  Use GETSOME lubricant to oil both ends of the reel shaft lightly and return the spool to the reel frame (14).  Now might be a good time to place a drop of oil on the clicker (15) if you have one and work it back and forth a few times.  Clean out any excess oil and dirt with a Q-tip. Set the reel and spool aside for now.
  Loosen the four screws (key#21 and key#22) from the side plate (16).  They are different!  Be sure you remember that the top two screws (closest to the free spool lever or black right bearing cap) do NOT have threads along their whole length.  They have plain areas so as not to interfere with the internal springs.  The bridge assembly can now be removed (17).   You can see the pinion gear stuck to the removed bridge assembly (18).
  Note that the dog (key# 15) is trapped underneath the main gear (19).  Remove the main gear (key#18) with the entire drag stack and drag spacer (key#27) as a group (20).  This exposes the bridge and the reddish colored fiber washer (key#17) (21).  Remove the fiber washer and wipe it clean.

  Use a small metal probe to push out the retaining pin from the bridge assembly (22), clean all parts well (23), grease it generously on the bridge shaft and reassemble.  You will notice that the pin only goes in on one side so try both directions until it is fully seated.  Replace the fiber washer, be sure there is some grease between the washer and the brass bottom near the dog gear (24).  I like to cover all brass/bronze parts with a light coat of grease to reduce corrosion during use.  Be careful as you assemble the reel to re-apply grease as your work rubs it off of the brass/bronze parts.

  Ken of Ken'€™s Reels in Oceanside has taught us all to use a five stack of wet HT100 drags on Pro Gears (thanks Ken).  If you still have the stock drags you need to upgrade ‚€“ PERIOD.  Buy the set of five HT100 thin washers and 5 THIN metal drag plates (Penn has the whole set for a Penn 4/0).  They are in order below right to left (25).  1-HT100, 2-non-key metal washer, 3-HT100, 4-keyed metal washer, 5-HT100, 6-non-key metal washer, 7-HT100, 8-keyed metal washer, 9-HT100, 10-non-key metal washer, 11-dome washer (key#24) and 12-drag spacer (key# 27).  I use Cal Sheet's drag grease lightly on both HT100 surfaces (26).  Don't get crazy or you will squeeze out grease everywhere inside the reel when you apply drag pressure ‚€“ a light coating is fine.  After time you may have to replace the HT100‚€™s when they show smooth areas.  A friend had a LONG fight with a seal and the drags got toasted and looked glazed; they should have a dull waffle texture when healthy.  Start by putting the main gear on the bridge and start inserting drag washers/drags in order.

The THICK non-keyed washer (#10) is on top, just before #11 - the only arched washer in the stack.  Be sure to inspect the top keyed washer when you service 5 stacks of drags in Pro Gears.  Sometimes under severe drag pressure the ears bend a bit upward.  The bend should face up when you re-assemble the reel or be replaced with a flat new one (27) or you might lose drag pressure.  I can get over 15 pounds of drag easily with these drags and that'€™s enough for 60# test line (more than I usually use).   Once you get the drag stack assemble on the bridge (28), set it aside while we work on the rest of the side plate.

  Find the dog spring (key# 16).  Here it is found in the actual location (29) on the side of the sideplate.  This placement is not typical so watch for it anywhere.  You may notice that the spring I use is larger than the standard Pro Gear model (key#16) (30).  Roger at Savon-On Tackle in Santa Fe Springs has these larger (better) springs. (Thanks Roger and congarts on catching a 295# at cowtown on the Independence-Big fish 295 lbs (Rodger Eckhardt/ Sav-On tackle))  Now, the fun part, remove the jack (key#8) by sliding it up and to the left (31).

  Here you see the jack removed (32).  Remove the yoke (key#25) (33).  Note that the yoke usually has the pinion gear attached, but it came free during disassembly ‚€“ this is common and means nothing.  Do not lose the two springs (key#26) that support the yoke.  The ones in the photo are held in place by grease ‚€“ that is a good thing (34).  They fit on the top two screws (key# 20) of the side plate.

  Clean the side plate carefully of dirty grease (35).  You will be re-applying grease so don‚€™t go overboard with your cleaning.  Re-insert the springs as shown (36).  BE SURE TO CLEAN THE RIGHT BEARING shown here as you did the previous  one from the left side (36).  I usually paint some grease in/on the springs.  If the bridge screws (key #20 and #21) keep falling out, insert a wad of grease in each OUTSIDE hole before you put in the screws, this will keep them attached during assembly.  Grease under every screw in a metal reel is a very good idea! The yoke is shown in image (37).  Note that it has a shiny abrasion where the gear has worn in down a bit.  My fishing group the Barking Spiders€Ě has used Pro Gear 545's and 541's with 40# or 50# test to catch tuna up to 100 pounds - so wear is expected.  This part (key# 25) costs $2 so I change them every few years.

  Grease the yoke and attach the pinion gear (38) and replace the yoke on the springs.  Note that the open end of the yoke faces down in this view (39).  The gear does not fall off since there is grease on the yoke. Replace the newly greased jack on top of the yoke and pinion gear by lining up the larger hole and sliding the jack to the right (40).  You will have to get the hang of this. You may wish for additional hands or fingers remember: grease is your friend.  My thumb is holding down the yoke and pinion gear while my other hand slides the jack to the right.

  When this is successful you can move the lever in and out of gear and the assembly will move as it should without binding and stay in place and look level (41 and 42).   In preparation for final assembly of the side place, grab the outside of the side plate with your left hand.  Be careful to cover and hold down the top two screws with your index and ring fingers (43).  Don't let off the pressure as you turn it over.  You really want to stop all four screws from coming out.

  Insert the assembled bridge assembly (44) into the side plate.  Push down on the pinion gear slightly with your thumb and rotate the bridge assembly clockwise (45).  Note that I have it held sideways - it helps.  Once it moves a bit, transfer your grip to the bridge, but keep pressure toward the side plate Apply a small amount of Penn lube or other lighter grease/oil to the screw where the dog will go ‚€“ it is yellow in this image (46).  Be sure the screw in this area is fully inserted, the dog goes over it.

  Insert the dog with the notch facing up (47).  The angle should bring the top of the dog close to the yoke.  The dog must be able to catch the dog gear; if not your handle will go both directions easily, bummer.  Insert the dog spring with the right end above the desired location (48).  I use a small screw driver to compress it and gently push it into place (49).  With my right hand I usually rotate the shaft from the front side of the side plate now to be sure the dog and spring stop backward rotation as they should.  Do not let go of the left hand.

  Rotate the bridge more until the gear top is centered in the bridge'€™s hole.  My thumb is hiding this, but you can see that the bridge assembly is complete (50).  Again, I rotate the shaft to be sure the dog is working.  I turn the side plate over and loosely tighten the screws (51).  When each screw is started I use the lever to put the reel in free spool and back a couple of times.  If both of these tests are positive, tighten all four screws well. Verify both again after you tighten the screws (52).

  Be sure there is grease in the area where the jack slides (53) and where the spring to the freespool spring moves.  You have completed the hard parts of this service and now have a completed side plate (54). Insert the side plate into the frame.  You will have to slightly move the shift lever (key#11) to get it to fully seat (55).  Insert the two side screws after greasing both well.

  Install the lightly greased tension washer (key# 40) with the bends up on the shaft (56).  I lightly grease the inner areas on both sides of the star drag and handle before assembly. Install the star drag (key# 28) with the thumb bends facing counterclockwise (57).  Install the handle (58).
  Very carefully thread in the handle screw (key# 30) (59).  Make it tight and align the notch in the screw with the screw hole (60).  Do not over-tighten to reach the next hole.  Insert the handle screw lock (key # 31) and tighten.  Turn the reel over and adjust the screw on the left bearing cap (key# 5) (61).

      You can determine that you have it adjusted correctly by trying to shift the spool left or right (62).  It should move slightly.  I check the drag now.  As you can see this reel gave me 15# or drag when I stopped tightening (63).  It was not buttoned down, just tightened.  Now release the drag pressure to save the drags for the fish.  Put the reel in free spool and spin it to verify that you have great free spool.   Use blue painter'€™s tape to keep the line from slowing your spin test.

  I hope this tutorial helps you with your Pro Gear reels.  The side plates on the 545 and 541 are interchangeable and identical.  If any portion needs to be enhanced with photos or text and let me know.  This is my first attempt to copy the master Alan Tani.  Thanks Alan for your encouragement.  When I post another tutorial I am going to try to grow another arm or two to make the photos better.  This time I worked with my left hand and photographed with my right so bear with some of the out of focus images.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 02:56:48 AM by alantani » Logged

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time to get NICE yawl

« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2016, 09:52:24 PM »

great tutorial!!!!   thanks Sean

"To Hell with Luck, I'll bring the Luck with Me." ---Hemingway
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 07:12:59 AM »


      My desire for better reels for fishing the rivers that I love is what brought me here. I've arrived at a place where after knowing some key things regarding the build of a reel & through some quick testing I can pretty well determine if a reel has what I'm looking for. Not long ago this winter I acquired through a trade a Pro Gear 545 from Randy.

    Anywhoo, since I first came here I have been through various models & makes of reels for my river fishing. That includes Penn Torques which are fantastic reels but the anti reverse bearing in these reels makes them at best in my mind a heavy 30 class reel. I've had 4 Okuma Andros reels. Nice reels not as refined in my opinion as the American made 2 speeds. I have two left because my son likes them & are easy for him to use.  
 I love 2 speed reels for the river. More than that I love any reel that works with out issue & doesnt have bearings that blow out when the reel is pushed.
  The Baja & U.S. 113 are keepers. These reels have a very smooth drag & are ridiculously great casters for their size. Great river reels when spike in the sand or in a holder on boat. But they are large.

  Enter the Pro Gear 545.  While this reel isn't as refined or as ergonomic as some newer reels it is my thoughts, at present that it may be the best star drag reel ever made for Big River Big Cat fishing. No bearing to blow out when pushed. Parts should always be available. Will make all the drag needed to skull drag most any cat from it's home.

Randy is holding another one for me as I type this. I'm wanting 2 more. I'm thinking a little mill work could help with the ergonomics. Well see. It's been a while since I've been this excited to fish a new to me reel... Jeff


« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 08:51:31 PM by Rivverrat » Logged
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