How to Lubricate Fishing Reels


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Regularly lubricating a fishing reel improves the performance and life of the equipment. Learn how to perform this maintenance on common spinning and baitcasting fishing reels.

Items you will need

  • Screwdrivers

  • Pliers

  • Pocket knife

Flick your finger on the reel spool to determine how freely it spins. The spool on spincasting reels should spin at least eight times with a single flick of your finger. Baitcasting reels should rotate at least 12 times with a finger flick. If either reel is slow, it is time to lubricate the mechanism.

Remove the line spool from the fishing reel (some lubricants can weaken monofilament and make it brittle).

Disassemble the reel according to the instructions in your owner's manual. If you've lost the instructions, either order a new copy from the manufacturer or carefully take apart the reel and place the parts in sequence as you remove them. Most reels will readily come apart by removing the crank handle and reel cover (by turning counterclockwise).

Apply fishing-reel lubricant or a fine-machine oil, placing drops on the ball bearings, gear-drag mechanism, steel spindle for the line spool and the crank assembly. Don't over-lubricate the reel. A controlled burst of WD-40 lubricant will do the trick in an emergency situation (like in the middle of a fishing trip), but using the manufacturer's recommended lubricant produces the best results.

Reassemble the reel by reversing the order in which the parts were removed. Reattach the line spool and test the reel for fluid movement.


  • Use a fine-machine oil that is free of wax, silicone or other solid lubricant to keep the fishing reel from becoming clogged.