How to Oil a Spinning Reel


If you are a passionate angler, then you know that proper maintenance of your equipment is crucial if you want to have a great fishing experience. Whether you own the best spinning reel under 100 dollars or have a professional one that is worth thousands of dollars, you always have to do some maintenance work on this fishing gear in order for it to keep working properly.

The main maintenance task that is performed on any fishing reel is oiling. This helps the reel last for a longer time and fortunately, it can be performed by any angler almost anywhere, without the need for specialized tools or equipment. In this article, we cover this process step by step and show you exactly what you need to do in order to clean and oil your fishing reel at home.

It is a good idea to always keep your fishing reel in good working order so that when you go on a fishing trip, you won’t encounter any difficulties when catching those big fishes. Oiling together with cleaning operations do not take much time and offer many unforgettable fishing moments.

Preparing the materials

You have many ways at your disposal to oil or grease a fishing reel. However, before you start doing anything, you have to prepare all the stuff you’re going to use, so that you won’t have to get up and go looking for them midway through the operation, with greasy hands.

Besides your reel, you have to bring reel oil, paper towels or alternatively some rags, isopropyl alcohol and for more delicate cleaning some cotton swabs. These last two items are optional, as you don’t need them to oil the spinning reel, but by using them, the oiling process is more effective.

Take great care concerning what substances you use when doing this maintenance work. Some people might use gasoline. However, this is a big mistake and you should never use gasoline when cleaning your reel as it has the potential of melting the plastic components. Always try to use biodegradable products or, as mentioned above, isopropyl alcohol to clean the reel.

Another thing to avoid when cleaning the inside of a fishing reel is a degreaser. This can cause severe wearing on the internal mechanisms.


Removing and cleaning the spool assembly

After you have all the needed materials in front of you, the next step is to take off the spool assembly. This can be done by turning the knob on it counter-clockwise. Alternatively, if the reel design features a rear drag, to release this whole assembly you simply push a button and the spool detaches.

Now that you can have a better look at the components from multiple angles, you can check for visible damage. If there is nothing particular that catches your attention, you can proceed by cleaning the fishing reel. You can do that by using cotton swabs soaked in a small amount of isopropyl alcohol. Keep in mind not to use harmful substances that could damage the reel.

This alcohol is a great cleaning product for this task. If you clean the assembly before oiling it, the reel will be more effectively lubricated. Try to reach all the nooks and crannies with the cotton swabs when rubbing away the dirt and dried old lubricant.


Oiling the reel

The next step would be to apply the oil. As a general rule, you have to oil everything that moves inside the spool assembly. These components are the line roller assembly, the maintenance port, the bail arm, and the drive gear bearings. Certain types of fishing reels might have more places that will need oiling, but that depends on what you possess.

To physically apply the oil, you can let it drop directly from its container or you may use a clean cotton swab to gently rub it around the moving parts. The spool assembly is not extremely large so one or two drops of oil per part should be enough for smooth reel functioning.

Keep in mind that if you leave moving parts unlubricated, they will most probably rust in time, the friction force will damage them and they will eventually break. After oiling, all operations performed with the spinning reel have to work smoothly.

Cleaning and oiling a fishing reel is relatively simple and you don’t need to have high mechanical or engineering skills to perform this task on your own. All you need to know is how the spool can be dismantled and remember the steps so you can assemble it back again. There are also numerous online video tutorials that show you what you need to do.

This process of dismantling the reel can actually bring you satisfaction, not to mention you are saving some money by not taking the fishing reel to a sports gear service. Don’t be afraid to tinker around with the inside components because they are much harder to damage than you would think.

However, if you are not 100% confident in your skills and are reluctant to disassemble your spinning reel by yourself, you can always call a friend who is more experienced than you or you can call on professional services that will do this job for a certain fee.



Just follow the steps mentioned above and you will be surprised as to how easy this maintenance job is. Once you perform it the first time, you will not need written guidance the second time. To sum up, you first have to gather your needed materials and supplies for cleaning and oiling the reel. Always remember to avoid gasoline and any type of degreasers.

The reel oil, some isopropyl alcohol, and some cotton swabs or paper towels are all you need. Turn the drag knob, thus removing the spool assembly and after a quick visual inspection, start cleaning the visible surfaces with the alcohol. Then just add one or two drops of oil on the moving parts and finally reassemble the spinning reel.



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