Should I Oil My Fishing Reel?

Last Updated: 18.09.19


You may have read our recent post about some great spinning reels, and if that’s the case you should know that every reel no matter how good or new it is, still needs maintenance. One of the main aspects of maintaining a reel is cleaning it regularly. Furthermore, there are reels that also need to be oiled.



What should you lubricate?

Essentially, you should put oil on every part of the reel that moves. However, the exception is represented by the anti-reverse bearings. These parts work best if they are dry, and if you feel they aren’t doing their job anymore, it’s time for you to swap them.

So which parts should you oil? Well, the line roller assembly and the bearings are the first candidates. Then you can oil the maintenance port and bail arm assembly too. Some reels will require you to oil more than these parts, but keep in mind the simple rule of oiling everything that moves, especially the metal parts.

To lubricate the parts simply put a drop or two of oil on them, or if reaching them is more difficult use a cotton swab to gently lubricate them. Most reels come with guidelines on what parts need to be lubricated and knowing those parts will save you a lot of time and will make sure you cover everything needed.

If you miss a spot, the reel will perform worse and it will be more susceptible to damage. After you finish oiling the reel you should feel how it moves smoothly. If that’s not the case it means you still have some oiling to do.

There are some precautions to take in order to keep the reel spinning for as long as possible and that is avoiding any use of any kind of degreaser. This will take the oil away and will leave the bearings and the other moving parts with nothing covering them and the metal will get damaged.


Oiling the reel is simple

If you don’t like lubricating the reel yourself, make sure that someone still does it and find a friend or an expert who will be more than happy to help you. But keep in mind that learning this skill will always prove to be advantageous. This will allow you to perform maintenance on your own and will help you in crucial situations.

The actual process of oiling a spinning reel is simple as you don’t need to know any complex technical details about how to do it. You just need to know how to dismantle the reel and put it back together. A diagram that usually comes with the reel will be at your disposal to help you with that.

Furthermore, taking the reel apart can be fun, so don’t be intimidated by applying oil on it yourself. It’s an easy task that will ensure no parts will get damaged in the near future. Oiled parts will last longer and will make your fishing a joy.


What materials do you need?

In case you’re wondering, here are some things that you need before you start lubricating the reel. Of course, you need the reel oil, but you also have to find some clean paper towels or rags to help you clean all the oil up. Some isopropyl alcohol will be great too, and some cotton swabs to help you get to those small parts.

You can work without the swabs or the alcohol, but they make things a lot less complicated. When choosing the products for your reel’s maintenance be careful as some of them might be harmful. Gasoline is a great example of a harsh chemical that some anglers like to use. However, it’s dangerous because it will melt plastic parts if you’re not careful.

Furthermore, it gives out a lot of fumes that are unhealthy for you. That’s why isopropyl alcohol works best, and if you can’t find it, biodegradable products do well too.


Remove the parts that need no oil

Not all reel parts require lubrication, and those that do are usually on the inside, so before you start anything, you should take the reel apart. After you have the materials needed for oiling ready, start by removing the spool if you have a spinning reel.

Depending on the model the spool can be removed by turning the drag knob counterclockwise, or, if your reel has a rear drag, by pressing the release button. Anyway, after you get the spool down, see if there is any damage underneath. Sometimes you will find some damaged parts and you will, unfortunately, need to replace them.

That often happens because you didn’t oil your reel in time or you didn’t have it cleaned. If your reel is in good form then you can start cleaning it to prepare it for the oiling part. Use cotton swabs and alcohol for this and make sure you get to every small piece. Be sure to only use products that won’t damage the reel and aren’t harmful to you.

The cleaning step is a must if you want the oiling process to go well. A dirty reel will work worse, even if it’s oiled up. Use some other cotton swabs, dip them in oil and gently apply that oil on the bearings and the other moving parts. If you feel that there is too much oil on them, use the paper towels to clean things up.



How often should you do it?

Some anglers never oil their reels and that’s why beginners that learn from them aren’t sure if they should lubricate their reels or not. Those anglers do that because they believe the companies that provide the reels put enough oil in them to have them work for a long time. But that is not the case, and if you want the reels to live for more than a couple of years you should have them serviced at least once every year. Two or three times per year would be ideal.

Cleaning them is even more important, especially if you’re fishing in saltwater. The salt that gets into the reel will stick there and cause serious damage to the internal mechanisms. That is why every time you decide to take your reels apart, you should also look at their inner parts and see if there’s something that you need to replace. There are some busted parts that can’t be repaired and won’t work no matter how much oil you put on them.

If you ever feel the urge to fish during winter but you’re not really into ice fishing, you can take that desire, transform it into a productive force, and start repairing and upgrading your reels and your gear.

But if you don’t feel that you can do it yourself, or if you simply don’t want to, there are professionals that are willing to help you with that. Taking your reel to such a service once or twice a year will ensure it will work well for longer.

However, if you’re the kind of person that only likes to fix things once they’re broken, there are plenty of people like you who only clean and oil their reels up once they break. So don’t feel bad if you don’t clean your reels. Furthermore, if you only fish in freshwater, chances are the reels you use can last a long time, as they always get cleaned naturally.



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