5 Best Grease for Fishing Reels + Maintenance Guide


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.

If you haven’t re-greased some of your fishing reels in the last few years then I would highly recommend it. You will be shocked at the improvement in performance of your reel with new grease on the gearing. It will feel like a brand new fishing reel.

Quick Summary – Best Grease for Fishing Reels

Bestseller No. 1
Ardent Saltwater Reel Care 3 Pack/Fishing Reel Cleaner Lubricator & Grease/Clean & Protect Fishing...
  • COMPLETE FISHING LINE AND REEL MAINTENANCE: Includes everything you need to maintain your fishing...
  • COMPLETE FISHING LINE AND REEL MAINTENANCE: Includes everything you need to maintain your fishing...
  • COMPLETE FISHING LINE AND REEL MAINTENANCE: Includes everything you need to maintain your fishing...

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 Guide

Required Materials

  • Your spinning, baitcaster, or overhead reel
  • Suitable reel oil
  • Suitable reel grease
  • Cleaning solvent
  • Cleaning materials – cloth, paper towels, cotton buds, a fine brush

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:

The key takeaways are:

  • 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.

How to Apply Fishing Grease

Follow these 5 simple steps to apply fishing grease to your reel and make sure that it continues to perform for years to come:

  1. Pull your reel apart – use the documentation that can from your reel’s manufacturer. Some modern reels have gotten so complicated that getting them apart and putting them back together correctly is not an easy task.
  2. Remove the gears – fishing reels have two main gears, the pinion and drive, which we describe later in this article.
  3. 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.
  4. Complete any additional maintenance tasks – give your reel a thorough clean and oil the bearings if you haven’t done this recently.
  5. 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.

What is fishing reel grease?

Grease is used to maintain lubrication within the gearing of your fishing reel. It prevents water or moisture from corroding and degrading the gearing while simultaneously reducing the friction between gearing. This helps the reel to spin freely for years to come.

Over time this grease needs to be replaced as it gets contaminated with sand or other solids, and it also can get flushed away from the gear face. Replacing the grease on a regular basis will ensure your reel continues to perform for the long term. If you have noticed that your reel has increased friction when turning the handle or your feel a grinding then I would highly recommend opening it up and checking the grease.

There are different kinds of grease required for either freshwater or saltwater, so make sure you pick the correct grease according to your requirements.

Fishing Grease Features

Not all grease is manufactured in the same way with the same components, so make sure you understand what you are looking at when reading through the manufacturers product descriptions:

  • Lubricating Properties – this describes the amount of friction this grease removes and is a good indicator of performance.
  • Separation Rates – grease is made as a combination of oil and soap, and you do not want these components to separate.
  • Rust Inhibitors – if you are fishing in saltwater then picking a grease containing a rust inhibitor is a must.
  • Water Resistance – poor quality grease can get dislodged by water flow if it is not designed to be water resistant.
  • Thermal Stability – the gears of a fishing reel can generate significant heat, particularly in summer, so make sure your grease can handle high temperatures. This also applies to ice fishing reels if you need low temperature grease.

Each of these provides a key indicator of the performance of the grease and will help you make a purchase decision. But if this is too complicated then please read through our list of the best fishing reel grease options below.

Best Grease for Fishing Reels

1. Penn Fishing Reel Grease

Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Penn Fishing 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.

It is made from high quality components and features superior water stability and rust protection. This achieves our recommendation as the best fishing reel grease.


  • 2 oz tub will last years
  • High value for money quantity
  • Superior water stability and rust protection


  • Can be a messy application scooping from the tub
Bestseller No. 1
Ardent Saltwater Reel Care 3 Pack/Fishing Reel Cleaner Lubricator & Grease/Clean & Protect Fishing...
  • COMPLETE FISHING LINE AND REEL MAINTENANCE: Includes everything you need to maintain your fishing...
  • COMPLETE FISHING LINE AND REEL MAINTENANCE: Includes everything you need to maintain your fishing...
  • COMPLETE FISHING LINE AND REEL MAINTENANCE: Includes everything you need to maintain your fishing...

2. Quantum Hot Sauce Reel Grease

Overall Score – 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This Quantum Hot Sauce is a 100% fully synthetic grease. It provides a good corrosion resistance and is specially designed for fishing reels. There are not many fishing products on the market that can achieve a 5.0 star rating, but this is one of them.

If you haven’t replaced the grease in your old reels for many years, then I guarantee that you will be shocked if you put some hot sauce grease into them.

This grease is also made in the USA, and comes in a 0.4 oz tube. At this price point it is a no brainer to add to your tackle box.


  • Made in USA
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • 100% fully synthetic grease


  • Only a small quantity so if you have a lot of reels than this might not be suitable
Bestseller No. 1
Quantum Hot Sauce Fishing Reel Grease, Smooth and Long-Lasting Full Synthetic Lubrication, Prevents...
  • 100% Full Synthetic Reel Grease
  • Prevents breakdown under heavy load and extreme heat. Made and packaged in the United States
  • Specially formulated for fishing reels

3. Ardent Reel Butter

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another great option is the Ardent reel butter. This yellow grease is 100% synthetic and is compatible with all reel components.

This grease contains a rust inhibitor. It also features a UV tracer so you can view it under a blacklight and see if any areas need re-application.

It also contains an anti-gumming agent to improve performance over time.

This grease is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater.


  • Contains a rust inhibitor
  • UV tracer to view under a blacklight
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater


  • More expensive than some other options
Bestseller No. 1
Ardent Reel Butter Oil, Multi, One Size
  • This lubricant is fully synthetic and designed for use on fishing reels
  • Contains an anti-gumming agent that is compatible with all reel components
  • Super low viscosity and high surface tension reduces wear and noise

4. Cal’s Universal Fishing Reel Grease

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you have different manufacturers fishing reels and don’t want to buy both Penn and Abu Garcia greases, then consider a universal fishing reel grease like this one from Cal’s.

It boasts saltwater corrosion resistance, safe use on drag materials, seals, and o-rings. It also has minimal grease creep which means it stays where you place it and you don’t need to worry about it falling off after use.

Available in both purple and tan colors, and in both 1 ounce and 1 pound tubs.


  • Universal fishing reel grease
  • Minimal grease creep
  • Available in both small and large tubs


  • Can be difficult to apply from the tub
Bestseller No. 1
Cal's Universal Reel and Star Drag Grease - Multi Use - (1) Light-Purple 1oz
  • 1 OUNCE PURPLE: Cal's Thinner Purple Universal Reel and Star Drag grease is the result of decades of...
  • Maximum corrosion protection, Incredible salt-water corrosion protection on all metals, including...
  • Superior heat and wear resistance, Safe for all metals and common plastics

5. Abu Garcia Fishing Reel Oil

Overall Score – 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Abu Garcia also provide their own reel grease, reel degreaser, and reel oil. This is perfect for baitcaster reels.

This is both resistant to hot and cold environments. It comes in a 1 oz tube with a needle applicator that helps getting oil into tight spots. It also helps avoid getting oil into the wrong places.


  • Needle Applicator 1 oz Tube
  • Good value for money


  • Nil
ON SALE $0.51 OFFBestseller No. 1
Abu Garcia Reel Grease black, 1 oz
  • Low viscosity formula
  • Perfect for high performance parts
  • Heat and cold resistant

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you apply fishing grease to a fishing reel?

If you keep your fishing reel’s clean and dry then you should be able to apply a light oil every 6 months and replace the grease every 2-3 years.
If you fully submerge your reel’s in saltwater frequently then you will want to re-grease them more often.

Why do fishing reels need grease?

Grease is used on fishing reelsto lubricate the pinion and drive gears so that they continue to perform for years to come. They also prevent corrosion in saltwater environments.

Do you oil or grease fishing reel bearings?

Oil goes on bearings and grease goes on gears.


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.

While maintenance is not the first thing you want to be doing with your fishing reel, it is important and will make sure it continues to perform for years to come.

Some other good quality fishing reel grease that we have not mentioned include Interflon Fin Grease, Yamalube Marine Grease, and Shimano Dura-Ace.

Happy fishing!

Last update on 2022-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.