How to Apply Fishing Reel Grease | Fishing Reel Maintenance

Maintaining your fishing reel is crucial to making sure it lasts a lifetime and doesn't fail when it is needed most. I have learnt this lesson the hard way after I picked up an old spinning reel when I was younger and couldn't even turn it after the bearings had seized. Applying fishing reel grease or oil is a great way to avoid future mechanical breakdowns.

REMEMBER: Oil goes on bearings and grease goes on gears

Grabbing a tub of fishing reel grease is a great addition to your tackle box so that you can make sure your reels are kept in good condition all year round.

Fishing Reel Maintenance Video

The video below is a great illustration of how you can maintain your reels simply and quickly. Made by PISCIFUN, this 2 minute video certainty worth a watch:

  • Get a fine bristled brush and a grease applicator.
  • A little bit of grease on a gear goes a long way.
  • Paint the grease on the gear so that it goes between the teeth.
  • A properly greased gear should not have any excess grease visible.

If you over grease your gears, then your reel will feel 'gummed up' and 'sticky'. It will also result in your drag not working as efficiently.

Really pay close attention to the quantity of grease that is being added so that you do not create a new problem while you are trying to maintain your reel.

The next video is from Angling Authority going through how they maintain a Shimano Stradic.


Pull your reel apart - use the documentation that can from your reel's manufacturer. Some modern reel's have gotten so complicated that getting them apart and putting them back together correctly is not an easy task.


Remove the gears - fishing reels have two main gears, the pinion and drive, which we describe later in this article.


Apply the grease - this can be done with an applicator or a fine bristled brush. Apply it to the teeth and remove any excess. The finished gear should not have any visible excess grease.


Complete any additional maintenance tasks - give your reel a thorough clean and oil the bearings if you haven't done this recently.


Put your reel back together - again pull out your reel's schematic if this is difficult.

Fishing reels are made up with two main gears - the pinion and the drive. The interaction between these two gears is how it converts the rotation of the handle into the rotation of the spool. The diagram from the US patent for fishing reels can give you a clearer idea of how they interact:

Fishing reel drive gear and fishing reel pinion gear

Greasing both the pinion and drive gears should be done when you are completing your maintenance.

There are a large number of fishing greases available on the market. I have made a recommendation about what is the best available - but check the operating and maintenance manual from the manufacturer of your reel to see if they have any recommendations.

Recommended Fishing Reel Grease - Penn Reel Grease

Penn are one of the world's top manufacturers of fishing reels, and they also provide this grease. Available in tubs as small as 2 oz, these are good value for money and are highly recommended to add to your fishing gear collection.

They also come with significantly more grease than the smaller toothpaste shaped tubes. If you have multiple reels to maintain or apply grease frequently, then the Penn style tub will certainly offer more value for money.

PENN Reel Grease
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • Made using only the highest quality components
  • Tested for quality and durability

Remember to check with your manufacturer about whether they have any grease recommendations.

If you have any advice about maintaining reels, particularly using fishing reel grease or oils, then please leave a comment below so that others can learn from your wisdom.

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid angler. He has fished all over the world, primarily for Saltwater game fish but also for local prize fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Tyrnos for an overhead reel or a Shimano Curado for a baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.

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