How to Oil a Zebco Fishing Reel

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As with any fishing reel, you will find that Zebco brand reels last longer when they receive regular care and maintenance. If you use your reel often or are rough on your equipment, it will require more servicing. If you use the reel for saltwater fishing, or drop it in sand or dirt, you should re-lube the reel immediately to avoid long-term damage to the reel parts.

Items you will need

  • Reel oil

  • Rags

  • Small brush

  • Detergent

Choose a lightweight oil for lubing the reel. If possible, purchase oil specifically designed for fishing reels; some fishermen complain that WD-40 or other all-purpose oil is not as effective. Choose an oil which contains corrosion inhibitors.

Before oiling your reel, clean it first with fresh water and wipe down or allow to dry first. On a Zebco spinning reel, remove the spool before cleaning.

Apply oil to your reel. For the Zebco baitcast reel, apply small amounts of oil to handle knob rivets and to the moving parts of the spool shaft. On spinning reels, oil the line roller, bail hinge springs, crank handle knobs and shaft, and the center shaft on top of the reel.

You will occasionally want to perform detailed maintenance on your Zebco reel, in order to clean and lube all moving parts.

On a spinning reel, remove the handle, spool, rotor, side plate and crank gear.

On a baitcast reel, Zebco advises fishermen to take out the reel covers, spinnerhead, spool, and washers, clutch ring, center shaft assembly, crank handle, bearing retainer clip, crank bearing and crank shaft assembly.

Wash the pieces with detergent and water, dry with a soft rag, and then apply trace amounts of oil to all moving parts.

Be sure to lay out the pieces in such a way that you will remember how to rebuild the reel after cleaning.

Detailed maintenance is also recommended if you are saltwater fishing or your reel is used in muddy or dirty conditions. There are more specific saltwater cleaning directions at

Annually, Zebco advises fishermen to have their reels professionally cleaned and lubricated.

On a baitcast reel, the company suggests that the main and pinion gear, pinion yoke, worm shaft, worm gear, release slider, worm shaft guard, anti-reverse ratchet, continuous anti-reverse clutch sleeve and bushings be greased. The reel's spool shaft and ends, both handle knobs, the spool release mechanism, the level wind stabilizer bar and the ball bearings should be oiled.

On a spinning or spincast reel, Zebco recommends oiling both handle knobs, the pick-up pin, arm lever, kick lever mechanism, ball bearings, clutch screw, and spool release mechanism. They suggest grease be applied to the crank gear, crank shaft, pinion gear, center shaft assembly, pick-up arm, roller wheel, anti-reverse pawl/ratchet, spool washers and bushings.


  • Only use small amounts of oil or grease. Excessive amounts can hurt the performance of your reel.
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