How To Make Your Spinning Reels Last Longer (Tips, Tools & Mistakes)

By: Tony Acevedo on October 16, 2019
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preventative fishing reel maintenance

How often do you clean and oil your fishing reels?

Do you do it at all?

Do you even know what you’re supposed to do?

Today’s reels aren’t cheap and just like your car, lawnmower, or any other machine with moving parts, a little preventative maintenance goes a long way.

In this video, I’m going to show you the tools you need, what to do, and what NOT to do, as far as preventative reel maintenance goes.

Ready to dive in?

Click the play button below to watch the video.

P.S. Have any questions about reel maintenance? Let me know down in the comments!

Preventative Reel Maintenance [VIDEO]

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Now, before you dive into these preventative care tips, make sure you have the right tools.

Here’s a list of the tools I use:

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • flathead screwdriver
  • reel lube/oil (any brand works)
  • Q-tips
  • Clenzoil
  • clean rag

Pre-step: What not to do…

Don’t take your reel all the way apart unless you are confident you can get everything back together.

I’ve made this mistake before and have not been able to fully reassemble the reel.

Step #1: As soon as you get off the water after every trip, lightly spray your reel down with freshwater

Two things to not do in this step:

  1. Don’t drown your reels in freshwater
  2. Don’t use a lot of pressure when spraying your reels

Both of the actions above can push salt deeper into your reel, so just lightly mist off your reel and then wipe it down with a rag.

I keep a freshwater spray bottle in my truck to do this as soon as I get off the water.

Step #2: Take the spool off your reel before you start

Make sure there’s no sand or debris on the spool and if there is, lightly wipe it down and remove it.

Another reason you want to take the spool off if so that you don’t get grease or chemicals on your line.

Step #3: Put a dab of reel oil on the shaft where the spool rests

After you do this, crank the handle a few times to make sure the oil is covering the shaft.

Pro-tip: with grease or oil, less is more.

Step #4: Put a dab of oil where the handle spins

After you do this, make sure to wipe off any excess oil so that it doesn’t get on your hands later.

Step #5: Put a dab of oil where the handle inserts into the body of the reel

I made a mistake in not doing this, and as you can see in the video the handle does not want to move now.

Step #6: Clean and lubricate the roller on your bail

This is one of the most important parts of the reel to keep clean since the line touches your reel under lots of tension here and any debris or lack of mobility in the roller can cause your line to break.

Step #7: Make sure all the screws on your reel are tight

As you use your reel over time, there’s a chance some of the screws could come loose and you don’t want your reel falling apart with a trophy fish on the line.

Step #8: Spray a rag with Clenzoil and wipe down the entire reel

This is will help reduce corrosion and extend the life of the reel.

Conclusion

best inshore fishing reels

Whether you fish once a month or several times per week, it’s important to take care of your reels so that they last longer and perform better on the water.

I fish every week, so I normally clean and lubricate my reels every other trip, but if you fish less you can do so once a month.

Also, remember that your reels can corrode from just sitting in the garage unused, so make sure to keep up with maintaining them even if you aren’t using them.

Have any questions about preventative maintenance for your fishing reels?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who needs to take better care of their reels, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Tony AcevedoCordell PlummerDennis BloomBarry WoodPhillip Stoess Recent comment authors
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Livelifefishing Plummer
Member

A couple of my reels don’t sound smooth when I reel in,they sound rough.. Any videos on ways of fixing this? Never knew about maintaining reels I would just fish with them and spray it off.

Dennis Bloom
Member

Do you suggest using Reel Magic Spray on your reels after rinsing with water?

Barry Wood
Member

Thanks for the great video Tony. Wish I had watched it before I hosed off my reel with the drag loose. Hope I can
save the reel with some oil and grease.

Phillip Stoess
Member

Great tips for me Tony.
I have been doing some of the steps incorrectly and missing others.
Now I have something to do today 🤒

Bill Bennett
Member

Good info. I use WD-40 Dry Lube w/PTFE(not reg WD-40) to wipe down my reels, spray the seats, etc. Recommended by a reel manufacturer. I’m one of those that tear the reel totally apart to maintain or repair. Sometimes a reel gets dropped in the surf or gets salt in the grease. I use Reel Scrubber by Beachwood to degrease the reel/part. It’s similar to Freon or acetone but doesn’t hurt the plastic. Afterward, I re-lube the reel/parts. If I have a bearing that is growing a little, I remove it, slide it onto a screwdriver shaft and heat slightly with a bic lighter. Then I put a couple of drops of oil on it. While cooling it sucks the oil into the bearing. If that doesn’t work, get a new one. Don’t know how to post pictures of the products on the site.

Brian Hoffstetter
Member

Hey Tony, nice and simple…What’s your take on swapping ss bearings with ceramic ones like Boca makes?

Christopher O'Rourke
Member

What about the most important part the drag washers

Glenn Acomb
Member

Thanks Tony, a very helpful video. I have two spinning reels that have the handles frozen and they are only 2-3 years old. Wish I had seen this sooner as I was planning to change a reel to a left hand retrieve (I’m left handed) for a friend to fish with me. I’ll be taking off the opposite cap and putting in some spray lubricant to soak overnight as you suggested and I hope it will do enough so I can release the handle. Thanks!

Azman Kumang
Member

hi tony, can you include any video for baitcasting reel service

James Cole
Member

Great post, Tony. It’s amazing how many of us simply put the rod and reel into the car and leave it there until our next outing. Even one day with salt in the wrong place can wreak havoc on an expensive piece of gear!

Torrance West
Member

Great info Tony! Working as a reel repair technician for shimano for a while, I can’t count how many times I saw reels come in with the internal gears just absolutely trashed from neglect. A simply rinse down and routine maintenance goes a long way extending the life those expenses reels.

Trevor Yeomans
Member

Great post Tony! Thank you for all your tips! I do have a question about the clutch discs for the drag that are in the spool. Do you ever take them out to wipe them down? If so, how often? I’ve done this a few times, but not sure if it is necessary or how often I should do it lol. Thanks for everything you do at SS!!

David Stoots
Member

I have used Lemon Pledge on my reels for years. After rinsing with fresh water and drying, and then cleaning, I spray with Pledge and then wipe down. Also use it on the rods.

James Worth
Member

great info

Richard Fiorentino
Member

Thanks Tony, good advice. I have been using Ardent Reel Guard, which I think is a little less expensive. Have you ever tried it? Thanks

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Now this is a reasonable set of practical steps. I’ve watched videos on the internet about how to completely strip down my Penns and clean and lube them – and I can imagine difficulty in getting Humpty Dumpty back together again. I bought all the stuff – but haven’t actually tried it. I’ve been misting them with fresh water and occasionally oiling the bail – and they work fine – but I’ll probably run through this routine with them next. Thanks!

Bill Jenkins
Member

Thanks for the instructional video!

Dave Frymier
Member

Now this is a reasonable set of practical steps. I’ve watched videos on the internet about how to completely strip down my Penns and clean and lube them – and I can imagine difficulty in getting Humpty Dumpty back together again. I bought all the stuff – but haven’t actually tried it. I’ve been misting them with fresh water and occasionally oiling the bail – and they work fine – but I’ll probably run through this routine with them next. Thanks!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Thanks for this man great post!

Jim Esher
Guest
Jim Esher

Tony nice piece. a suggestion is to insure the spool is all the way closed or down during the rinse off. this helps reduce the water intrusion (many new spools have wide open slots) into the shaft area which runs down into the bearings and takes salt with it. Also on baitcasters and lever drags make sure the drag is on full as this will keep water out from between the drag washers which is an area usually never addressed during maintenance

Peter Yannetta
Member

Hey Tony….
I really enjoy your videos as well as all the S.S. videos and am amazed by what you accomplish in your kayak..
Do you have a a real job…lol, just curious?
I’m a true fan …
Thanks so much!!!

Dave Otte
Member

Thank you Tony this is information I can put into place! What do you do when you dunk a reel? Do you have a process to try to save it from becoming a ‘coffee grinder’?

Darin Hopkins
Member

Do you store your reels with the drag loosened? Spinning and baitcasting reels?

Jerry Mason
Member

This is really good timing on your part to talk about reel maintenance, especially since our snowbirds ( who may not think much about reel maintenance) are beginning to return to Florida for the winter and spring fishing season. Thanks for a great presentation Tony.

Thom Ray
Member

Clenzoil is a great product for cleaning as well as lubricant and protective. Never use WD 40. It’s a cleaner.

Shaun Mohr
Guest
Shaun Mohr

Good tips here I’ll be using them on the outer parts! I take me reels all the way down and then pack the inner cavity with heavy duty bearing grease. My reels zing like new and have about 7 years on them!

George Beatty
Member

I like to use lemon furniture polish to wipe down reels & rods. It cleans and coats them helping resist salt water.

Pat Mcdonough
Member

Lol I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that’s learned that while I’m an expert at tearing apart reels putting them back together is another story. Kudos to those that can but for now I’ll stick to basically what you just posted and support my local tackle shop for complete rebuilds. Love your videos Tony, keep them coming.

Raymond Bierschenk
Member

Thanks Tony!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Great video, need more like this one . thanks John

Robert Knowles
Member

Perfect timing on this Tony. Now that I primarily fish from a paddleboard reel maintenance is more important and necessary more often. Thanks for the reminder and information.

Joseph Pyles
Member

After every day of fishing??? Yes,,, I freshwater rinse every time from tip to reel. But teardown and oil? How often?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Don’t forget to use a mild soap, like the original Dawn, to help break up salt deposits before using a freshwater rinse. Also, give a light spray of WD-40 on all exposed stainless steel, when they’re completely dry.

Thom Ray
Member

Try clenzoil instead of WD 40. I think you’ll be impressed.

Joseph Pyles
Member

WD-40 is known to break down braid line.

Tom Bowden
Guest
Tom Bowden

Nice video with good information. Thanks

Elwin Stuart
Guest
Elwin Stuart

Guess Zebco reels and bait casters (all I use) don’t count—-

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Thanks for the recommendations. Keeping up with all your equipment is definitely worth the time and effort.

Steven Free
Member

I absolutely agree I take care of my tackle probably more then most people I have seen but maybe that’s the reason I just replaced all of my spinning reels after using them for a little over a decade with thousands of fish being caught on them I had stradic 4000s but I have learned the 3000 size is better and now I use 3000 series shimano nascis and i love them at only a Benjamin per reel at west marine it’s a great bargain but yes I flush all my tackle right after use and boat and trailer and i like the old spray can of reel magic for my rods and reels and 656 lube for my boat and motor and trailer found out that wd-40 is not good at all in any marine equipment especially anything with rubber in it it eats it up destroying it making it unusable and believe it or not I have never taken apart any reel to scared about all those tiny parts flying out never to be seen again then only the reel can be fixed by a dealer or tackle shop anyways great info thanks for all you do Luke and Joe of saltstrong definitely hired the right guy for the job😁

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I disagree, WD-40 is safe for metal, wood, rubber, most kinds of plastics, and painted surfaces too. It’s not friendly to polycarbonate and clear polystyrene plastic. Reel magic is just 100 percent silicon, for those looking to save money.