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Zebco 33 Troubleshooting

In this trouble shooting page we will identify issues with the Zebco 33: drag system, reel handle problems, spool issues, damaged back cover, and stuck thumb button.

I would like to tighten my drag; however, the line keeps pulling out.

Replace Drag Gears

If your drag will not tighten, you may need to replace the drag gears.

I am trying to cast my reel; however, the drag seems frozen.

Dirt Build Up

You may need to clean the dirt and debris out of the drag system. Another possible solution is to lubricate the drag system.

Line Snaps

My line keeps snapping when I catch fish.

Adjust the setting on the drag. Without properly setting the drag, the line will snap because there is too much tension on the line.

Handle Will Not Crank

I want to crank my handle; however, the handle won't crank.

If your handle will not crank, you may need to replace the handle.

I am trying to crank the handle; however, the handle will barely move.

Dirt or Grease Build Up'

You may need to clean dirt, debris, or old grease out of the handle.

The gears will not turn smoothly, so they appear to be rough when I am turning the handle.

I cast my line, but it stops and drops after only about 10 feet, even though I have enough line for around 70 feet. Most rods hold in excess of 100 yards of line.

Your line may jam above the spool line around the tensioners and become wrapped and tangled. You will have to remove the top cover to untangle the line.

If the fishing line is old, brittle, stiff, or kinky, you need new line.

The Outer Back Cover Is Cracked and Needs To Be Replaced

I want to use my reel, but there is a grinding sound when I turn the handle.

Your cover has been damaged in some way which can lead to moisture, dirt, and grime entering the back cover of the reel, and that may lead to rust. You will need to replace the back cover.

After I cast the reel, the thumb button will not pop back up after reel has been engaged.

Thumb Button Hinge Ears are Broken

Your hinge ears might be broken. Replace the thumb button or back cover assembly. These parts can be ordered online.

Thumb Button Spring is Broken or Bent

Your thumb button has been hanging up because of the hinge ear. You will need to pop the back cover off and bend the spring back to the original position.


My drag will not loosen up .you can adjust the knob but it does not loosen up.

stevie rudolph - Reply

zebco 33 rhino max. When my boy uses the rod he sometimes holds it upside down with the reel on bottom, and then reels backwards. Is there a way to make the reel stop doing this since my 5 year old will not stop stop reeling in reverse.

Johnwest2u - Reply

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