How to Oil a Spinning Reel – Beginner’s Guide

If you want your gear to work well for years to come, you have to meticulously maintain it. This means your spinning reel should be washed and oiled regularly. 

Aren’t sure how to do it properly? Well, we have the tips and tricks you need to know to keep your reel in perfect working order. 

Once you know how to do it, the task won’t take much time at all. So let’s jump right in. 

Project Metrics

Preparation Time:15 minutes

Working Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty Level: Easy

Average Cost of Supplies: $11 

Supplies Needed to Oil a Spinning Spinning Reel

To oil your spinning reel, you will need:

  • Rubber band
  • Fishing reel oil 

You should only use oil specifically meant for rods. Don’t use soap, degreaser, or gun oil. 

How to Oil a Spinning Reel

You must oil your equipment to ensure that it lasts. This process is easy once you know how to do it. However, there are a few things you need to do before you can begin. 

How to Prepare a Spinning Reel for Oiling

To prepare for oiling, follow the steps below. 

1. Tighten the Handle and Drag Knob

Make sure you tighten your handle and set the drag knob up. This step will allow you to hold your reel correctly. The drag knob should be on the top of your spool.

2. Rinse

Hold your reel horizontally and rinse it with tap or bottled water. This step will help remove any debris. 

3. Rub Stains With Clean Cloth

Sometimes salt can cause stains. Use a clean cloth to remove these blemishes. 

4. Give Line and Line Roller an Extra Rinse

You should rinse any line on your spool and the roller well. These areas are exposed the most to debris. Without proper cleaning, they’ll erode. 

Photo credit:

5. Shake it Off and Leave to Dry

After you finish, make sure to shake your reel off and allow it to dry thoroughly. You don’t want leftover moisture in your equipment. 

6. Remove the Handle and Spool

Once your reel has dried, remove the crank and the spool. Loosen your drag knob until you can pull it off, and then pull the spool straight up and off. 

Turn the knob on the opposite side until it comes off. Then remove the handle. 

How to Oil a Spinning Reel

Now you’re ready to apply oil. Remember, each time you apply lubricant, only use one drop. For a video example of this process:

1. Oil the Crank Joint

Put lubricant on the crank joint. This knob connects the part you grab to the rest of the handle. 

2. Spin the End of the Handle

Twist the part of the handle that you hold on to when reeling. This motion will allow the oil to seep in. 

3. Oil the Shaft

Lubricate the shaft at the point where it connects to the rest of the reel. This part is located next to the bail and holds the spool. 

4. Spin the Rotor

The moving part in the middle of the bail is the rotor. Spin it, so the oil penetrates. 

Photo credit:

5. Oil the Bail Arm

Put oil on the ends of the bail arm. These bumps are next to the shaft on either side. 

6. Open and Close the Bail Arm

Open and close the bail arm a few times, so the oil seeps in. 

7. Oil the Gap in the Line Roller

Apply lubricant to the gap in the line roller. This part is where the bail arm and rotor connect on either side. 

8. Use a Rubber Band to Rotate the Line Roller

Take your rubber band and place it in the gap. Move the belt back and forth to rotate the line roller. This movement will allow the oil to penetrate. 

9. Oil Bearing on the Body

On one side of the reel, you should see a hole. Oil the outside lining of this bearing. 

10. Remove Side Cap on Opposite Side of the Body

On the opposite side, you will find the side cap. Unscrew and remove this cover to reveal the other bearing. 

11. Oil Other Body Bearing

Now that you have removed the cap, lubricate the other bearing. Put the oil on the lining of the hole, but not inside it.

Photo credit:

12. Spin the Rotor

Spin the rotor again to let the lubricant seep in. 

13. Reassemble

Put your reel back together. Make sure to reattach the side cap, spool, drag knob, and handle. 

Areas to Oil on a Spinning Reel

When you oil a reel, you want to focus on bearings, joints, and other moving parts.

You should lubricate the:

  • Crank joint
  • Shaft
  • Bail arm joints
  • Gaps in the line roller
  • Body bearings

How Often Should I Oil My Fishing Reel?

How often you should lubricate your reel depends on how often you use it. Someone who fishes often will need to oil once every few months. Casual anglers won’t need to go through this process as much. 

Certain conditions also change the frequency. If you fish in saltwater, you will need to lubricate more. Salt can be very damaging to your reel. In these instances, thoroughly rinse and oil after every use. 

Tips and Safety Considerations When Oiling a Spinning Reel

Incorrectly lubricating can cause serious damage. To avoid ruining your equipment, follow the tips listed below. 

Avoid Using Soap or Degreasers

Don’t use soap or degreasers when cleaning or oiling your reel. These products leave a residue that will cause harm. You should only use fresh water and lubricants designed specifically for fishing rods. You can buy these items separately or in a reel cleaning kit. 

Wash After Every Use

While oiling your reel isn’t necessary after every use, washing it is. This precaution will remove any debris and help fight corrosion. 

Go Easy on Water and Water Pressure

Don’t drench your reel in water or hit it with a ton of pressure. If you get carried away, the salt will get pushed deeper in instead of washing away. You should only lightly mist it before drying it off. 

Properly Dry

Letting your equipment dry is vital. Leaving moisture in a reel will cause damage. Wipe it off with a clean towel and then leave it out to air-dry. 


Oiling your spinning reel isn’t difficult. Rinse off your equipment, remove the handle and spool, and then oil the joints, bearings, and other moving parts. 

Remember to only use fresh water and reel-specific products and to let the equipment dry properly. Now that you know how to lubricate, you can keep your equipment in pristine condition for much longer!

People Also Ask

You may have a few more questions about oiling your reels. We answer some commonly asked questions below. 

Can You Use Gun Oil on Fishing Reels?

Never use gun oil on a fishing reel. This lubricant is too thick for spool bearings. You should also avoid using gun grease because water will wash it away, which will leave your equipment unprotected. Ideally, you should only use products designed for fishing reels. 

What Oil Do You Use for a Spinning Reel?

Oil your spinning reel with products designed for fishing equipment. You can buy these products in reel cleaning kits at most outdoor retailers. Alternatively, you can purchase them separately if you prefer. 

Should You Oil a New Reel?

You don’t need to oil new equipment most of the time. If the reel seems stiff when you first use it, lubricating it might loosen it up. 

Photo credit:

How Hard is it to Oil a Spinning Reel?

Oiling a spinning reel is easy. Remove the handle and spool, apply oil to the moving parts, and you’re good to go!