BlogJuly 2018

How To Oil Fishing Reel: A Step by Step Guide

How To Oil Fishing Reel: A Step by Step Guide

By Alycia Downs

Jul 17, 2018

Learn how to oil fishing reel so that your gear works properly and lasts longer. Step-by-step guide on how to clean and oil a spinning reel. 

Gear maintenance is critical if you want your fishing reels to work properly and last for a long time. While learning “how to oil fishing reel” isn’t most people’s idea of fun at first, once you learn how to clean and oil your reels, you can repeat the process quickly and easily. Here is a quick step-by-step guide for how to oil fishing reel, specifically, a spinning reel.

Avoid using soaps or degreasers as they may damage the reel or leave residue. The best oil for fishing reels is formulated specifically for reel care. Reel cleaning kits are available at most outdoor retailers or you can gather these items yourself:

  • Your spinning reel
  • Reel oil (be sure to research the best oil for fishing reels)
  • Reel cleaning solvent
  • Clean terry cloth rags
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs
  • Light bristle brush

How To Oil Fishing Reel Step-by-Step

  1. Prepare Your Workspace: Set up your workspace in a well-lit area. Lay a clean cloth on a steady, even surface over which you can work on your reel.
  2. Clean and Oil the Bail: Open the bail, apply cleaning solvent to the bail connection points and line roller. Lightly scrub with bristle brush and wipe dry, and apply a few drops of reel oil to the bail connection points. Open and close the bail several times to work in the oil.
  3. Clean and Oil the Spool:Unscrew and remove drag knob, then remove the spool from the reel body, and apply cleaning solvent to drag knob, insides of the spool and exposed areas. Wipe to remove dirt, debris or excess oil. Use cotton swabs to remove grime from crevices, and apply a few drops of reel oil to main shaft and gears.To reassemble, place the spool back on the reel body and reattach drag knob.
  4. Oil the Bearings in Reel Body: Remove the screw cap on the reel body. Unscrew the reel handle and remove, and use a cotton swab to wipe down the bearings and remove dirt or old lubricant.Apply one drop of reel oil to each bearing and to joints on handle, reassemble handle and screw cap.
  5. Oil the Reel Body: Once finished, wipe down the entire reel lightly with reel oil. This will add a layer of protection and help bead off water during use.

Keeping your gear clean is an important step on how to fish, and for quick maintenance, you don’t need to clean the reel every time. Oil your reel every couple of uses and deep clean occasionally. Use gentle water pressure when rinsing reels after use to help extend their life. Learn more about fishing gear maintenance for reels and lines.

Alycia Downs
Alycia Downs
Alycia Downs is a freelance content creator and avid sportsman who contributes to numerous publications promoting tourism, fishing, and outdoors. Alycia is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and is actively involved with conservation and fishing non-profit organizations. Visit her personal blog at or on Instagram @tideandtale.