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How Often Should Fishing Reels be Serviced?

The longevity of the fishing reel will completely depend on how well maintained it is. The initial cleaning isn’t that much of a hustle, it’s easy and simple.

And investing a few minutes of your time in cleaning and oiling the reel will surely be beneficial. Let’s take a peek on the servicing process of the fishing reel.

How often should you service your fishing reel?

Servicing a fishing reel once in every 15-20 trips can be a good practice. On seasonal fishing time, it should be oiled often too. It is good to oil it after every 10 trips. If a fishing reel is not frequently used, servicing in every 2-3 years ensures its longevity and keeps the reel rust-free.

If the fishing reel is in regular contact with sand, dust, salt & water then the grease will surely wear out. The spinning action of the wheel will be rough and inefficient. So you will know when to clean & oil the reel.

But if the reel is not troubling you or working smoothly, then it would be wise not to mess with it. The reels are quite well lubricated by the manufacturer & can last up to a year or two.

Why do fishing reels need servicing?

Proper servicing of the tool will ensure efficiency and a smooth working experience. A fishing reel is one of the main elements of fishing equipment. It holds the fishing line, helps you cast it out, and gets the line back.

The inner mechanism of the reel should be well lubricated & clean to work. While fishing outdoors the reel gets in contact with sand, dust, salt, water, and other stuff. This affects the reel bearings and related parts.

So to get the desired outcome out of a fishing reel it’s mandatory to do the servicing.   

How do you service a fishing reel?

If you are a newbie then I would highly recommend not to get into the inner compartment of the reel. After removing the part, it’s quite hard to reassemble. So just an initial outer surface cleaning will be fine.  

Remove the spool

First of all, you will need to remove the spool from the reel. It will give you better access to the shaft. The majority of the sand, salt tend to gather around the shaft so it should be cleaned properly.


Now to clean the outer surface of the reel you can use water or a solvent. But you have to be careful with the cleaning process. Either you use water or solvent it should be done in moderation.

You don’t want the inner compartment of the reel to get in contact with these things. It will surely dilute the grease or oil in the bearing, you don’t want that.

If you are using a solvent, instead of directly spraying it onto the reel, spray it on a piece of cloth and then use the piece to clean.

After you are done with the initial cleaning, take a dry piece of cloth and remove the moisture from the body.

Oiling the reel

To start, remove the handle and spool from the spinning reel. 

  • Start by dropping one drop of oil onto the handle knob. Spin the handle knob & allow the oil to seep in. 
  • Next, drip one drop of the oil on the base of the shaft. Spin the rotor to allow the oil to seep in.
  • Drip one drop of oil on the two attaching points on the bail arm. Open and close the bail arm a few times to allow the oil to seep in.
  • Also, add a drop of oil in the gap of the line roller on both sides. Now use a rubber band to roll the line roller to allow the oil to seep in.
  • Add a drop of oil on the bearing on the reel body. Unwind the side cap in the other end and add a drop of oil. Spin the rotor to allow the oil to seep in.

Reassemble your reel and you are all done.

 Do you oil or grease fishing reel bearings?

If you are using a new piece of the fishing reel then you don’t have to worry about the lubrication part that often. Only if you have an old piece of the reel that has worn out the lubrication then using white lithium grease would be the best choice.  

If you are thinking about using oil, then it won’t give you water resistance. Also, there is a high chance that oil will wear out, leaving the parts vulnerable to oxidizing or rust. Using grease as lubricant would be a  better and effective choice compared to oil. 

Can you use regular grease for fishing reels?

Yes, you can use regular grease, but it’s highly recommended to use white lithium grease. It will provide you with water-resistant also it will make it rustproof. 

Always make sure that your grease doesn’t contain any acetone. It will harm your fishing reel. 

Where to get fishing reels serviced?

It’s more convenient to do the servicing yourself. It’s quite easy to do. However, you would rarely need to disassemble the whole thing and do an inner compartment cleaning. 

If you feel like you don’t have enough time or skill to do it, you can seek out professional help.

How much does it cost to service a fishing reel?

If you are thinking about full servicing(cleaning & oiling) with an overall performance check, it will cost you almost $20 to $50. If there is any broken part or things you want to update, it might cost extra. The total servicing might take 14 to 28 days to complete.

How to take care of fishing reels?

It’s quite easy to take care of a fishing reel. For starters, you can keep the outer surface clean and moisture-free.

Whenever you feel the reel performance is not up to the mark, remove the spool and clean around the shaft. If the handle or the spinning wheel feels stiff then add some oil and you are done.

What do you clean fishing reels with?

You can use water or a solvent. Don’t go crazy with it. Doing it in moderation will be safe & try not to directly spray the solvent onto the inner compartments.

Try to find a solvent that easily evaporates and doesn’t leave oily greasy after effects. Always clean the reel up with a dry piece of clothing.

How do you clean an old fishing reel?

If you are thinking about cleaning an old reel then it’s gonna be quite a hustle. The pinion and the gear would be rusty and fragile. 

You will have to completely disassemble the fishing reel to find out what part should be replaced. So it’s wise to buy a new reel instead.  

But if you feel too emotionally attached to the reel and determined to get it done,  then 

  • Start with the blueprint of the reel. Get a proper understanding of the initial setup. 
  • Then remove all the screws 
  • Check out the overall condition of the pinion and gear.
  • If you find rust, just sand use sandpaper. Make sure you don’t mess up the actual shape and sizes. Just gentle rubs will do.
  • Use a toothpick and apply grease to the parts.
  • Now reassemble the parts and give it a try.

How long should a fishing reel last?

The longevity of the fishing reel will completely depend on maintenance. If it’s properly maintained it can last up to 7 to 8 years. Even without any appropriate maintenance, it will last up to 2 to 3 years. So it will give long service.

At this point, I hope you got the proper gist of the servicing procedures and what to keep in mind while cleaning, which will be better lubricant oil or grease and things like that. I hope you will be able to properly maintain your fishing reels now. Best of luck.

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