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Storing your Fishing Reels Over the Winter Months

Viewer Question: “Question on storing reels for long New England winter. What should I oil/grease on reels? What could I buy locally w-d 40 etc.? Let me know.”

It’s certainly a good idea to lube your reels for the off season, so I’m glad you wrote in with this question. It doesn’t take long to lube your reels and it’s a relaxing thing to do. A bit of “TLC” goes a long way towards the life of your reel. Let’s look at answering this viewer question, as well as sharing some more tips.

Oil & Fishing reels


You can actually buy fishing reel oil, but not all stores carry it. Otherwise, you can use a simple, common, 3 in 1 oil. This is readily available, inexpensive to buy and does a nice job. Or, if your spouse sews (as mine does) then sewing machine oil also works very well, as does any machine oil.

WD 40 does lubricate somewhat, but it also is a great cleaner. It would be a good idea to use WD 40 to clean your reel and then follow it up with “3 in 1” oil (or any machine oil). This would give the maximum protection.


One could argue that any old grease will do, when it comes to servicing your fishing reels - but, white grease is by far the best - or any lithium grease. These types of grease are water resistant, have great protecting qualities and are common in the marine industry.

Save your drag system

One thing most anglers neglect to do when storing reels is to back off on their drag setting. For that matter, any time you come off the water, it’s a good habit to back off the drag on all your reels. It’s important to back off on your drag settings as this will relieve any pressure on your drag & its related components. A simple quick thing to do and your drag will love you for doing it!

Where to oil


Generally speaking, anything that moves/rotates can use a spot of oil. Be sure to oil such places even like your reel handle. Don’t be shy with the oil. Take the spool off and oil the spool shaft, which moves up and down. Also, ensure you put a drop of oil on the bail roller. This is a very important part of your spinning reel as are the drag washers. Upon completion, wipe your reel clean of any residual oil.

Where to grease

The best area to grease is the area containing the main gears. Some reel manufactures only put a small spot on grease on the gears, so they can sure use the extra lube! You may have to remove some screws to get to this area, so just be careful when doing so as you will want to put it back in exactly the same way as it comes out.

One Last point

One last point to keep in mind: If you fish in salt water, you should always wash your reel with fresh water when you return home. Even if you are using a salt water rated reel, it will still benefit greatly from a fresh water rinse. Simply turn on your hose & spray your reel when you get home. This will help prevent your reel from seizing up – oh, and if you try to use a fresh water reel for salt water use, it will most definitely seize up on you!

Thanks for writing in and for your questions. It’s nice to see that you are interested in taking care of your fishing reels. They are such an important part of our day on the water, so it really is a good idea to keep them in top condition.

Until next time, good luck and good fishin’


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