TESTED: Okuma Salina

A while back Okuma provided me with a Salina II 5000 threadline reel to put through its paces. So far I’ve used it on big dam barra, had dozens of open water sessions on the kayak and given it a couple of land based tussles off the rocks.

This reel has already taken kings to 10kg, turrum, barra to 118cm, snapper, bonito and some sharks with one bronze whaler pushing an impressive 70kg. The reel is loaded with 30lb braid and is shown no mercy while out at sea.

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Because of the amount of salt my kayak reels are exposed to, I chose to void Okuma’s lifetime warranty and committed myself to perform my own reel maintenance as required. Since owning this Salina II, I give it a light spray with water after every session then a spray with Inox or WD40, usually once or twice a week. Because of the gallons of seawater that penetrates my fishing ski, especially when I roll in the surf, this reel has been regularly salt immersed and I’ve found a light coating with a water repelling agent forms a reasonably protective short term barrier.

In my last two fishing sessions the Salina II hadn’t been performing at its best due to a slight stiffening of the gears when turning the handle. I also noticed some drag jerkiness and the loosening of the bail arm roller bearing screw, which created a gap big enough to allow braid to get caught up. These were all signs that the first complete self service was well overdue.

My self service on the Okuma Salina II consisted of the following procedures: I removed and relubed the spool, waterproofing membrane, the big felt drag washer on the spool base, the main drag assembly and the double spool bearings. Everything in there looked pretty good, but I did notice early evidence of rust in the two spool bearings. This concerns me greatly because anti-rust bearings seem to be much more logical for a saltwater reel at this pricepoint. Anyway, I gave these questionable steel parts a big WD40 spray to break up out the old grease, dried off the felt washer system and relubed everything with Inox grease. I then removed the rotor and antireverse cover plate then cleaned the anti-reverse area, greased the shaft, tightened all the bail arm screws and sprayed the rotor area before removing the sideplate screws.

Around this time I also removed the unconventional handle assembly. Some product writers have found the individual left hand and right hand side, nut and bolt handle configuration a little confusing but I’m a big fan of the additional strength Okuma’s handle mechanism provides compared to similarly priced reel setups.

When the side plate was opened I was relieved to see all the internal gear bearings were stainless. An unusual design feature of the cover plate system exposes the rear corner of the drive gear when the non-sealed rear protector plate is removed. If sand was to penetrate this area, there’s a possibility the Salina II would seize up, requiring a complete clean out and re-lube. Due to the very high manufacturing tolerances, I was unable to separate the bearings from the drive gear. Because I didn’t have the right tools to force the removal of these components I carefully cleaned and re-greased the bearings as they sat on the drive gear.

With final assembly now upon me, I was faced with the last and somewhat tricky manuoeuvre where the red dot on the oval cam gear had to align exactly with the red dot on the drive gear. After a few foolhardy attempts, I finally found the sweetspot and everything clicked like a Swiss clock.

When the reel was re-assembled I gave the whole unit another quick coat of Inox and it felt like new. The beauty of the Salina II is that it contains very few moving parts which is a real bonus for tinkerers and regular fishers like myself who hate the downtime when reels go back to the manufacturer for regular maintenance.

With a close eye kept on those two rusty spool bearings previously mentioned, I’m confident this service will give me at least 20 more hassle free paddle sessions which could easily be compared to another six months ordinary use by the weekend kayak angling fraternity. By the time the next service comes around, I’d expect some extra wear and tear and wouldn’t be surprised if a replacement pinion, drive gear or drive bearings were required. Component wear like this would be pretty normal after the equivalence of 12 month hard use on a kayak.

So far the Okuma Salina II has proven itself to be a super tough and very reliable $250-$300 ‘yak reel because of its excellent drag, cranking power and relative ease of self service. I believe this reel rates highly compared to many reels in its price point and could be considered a proven stayer. On the downside, rust from the two small spool bearings lost valuable ‘yak fishing rating points. The exposed cam gear under the plastic protector plate is less noteworthy but could create issues in cases of sand penetration. From a maintenance and performance perspective I would give the Okuma Salina II 5000 an overall kayak longevity rating of 3.5 stars.

Contact: Rapala freetime on (02) 9780 8200;

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