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How to Maintain Baitcasting Reels – A Comprehensive Guide

baitcaster maintenance
Written by Immanuel Baranov
Last Update: July 24, 2023

Love fishing with baitcasters? Why wouldn’t you? Baitcasting reels have made fishing look like a piece of cake because they let us fish with accuracy and efficiency. But nothing lasts long if it is not maintained properly and baitcasters are no different. They will start losing their effectiveness once you stop taking care of them.

Now, if you have never cleaned a baitcaster or do not know how to maintain baitcasting reels, we suggest you go through our article to learn about its maintenance. You also need to be wary of the brand of your baitcaster. For example, the maintenance of an Abu Garcia reel might be a little different than that of a Shimano reel.

In general, there are three components used for baitcaster maintenance which involves the use of oil, grease and rubbing alcohol. So, we have described here the functions of the components as follows:

Baitcaster Maintenance


Before you begin to use any oil, it is recommended to use oil that is designed for your baitcasting model only. You can find the exact type of oil for your model in the instructions. Some manufacturers offer oil with the baitcasters. Avoid using WD-40 oil, machine oil, olive oil, 3 in 1 oils and oil that are too thick or thin. Use the oil that is suitable for the majority of popular reel models.

Reel oil


Although grease is not used as much as the oil, it is equally important like the oil. Grease is used for the cleanliness of the internal gear. But, you should not make sure to drop a small amount of grease only on the main gear.

grease for reel

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is used after mixing it well with warm water so that it is not too strong for the reel. You can use spray bottles to spray it on the reel or pour some on a cloth and wipe the reel with the cloth. It helps to get rid of residues.

These are the primary components that you would need for baitcaster maintenance. Other tools may include towel or cloth, brush, spray bottle, and q tips. After you have gathered every material required to clean the reel, you can follow the method given below:


Step 1 : Disassembling

Disassemble the whole reel and take out all the parts of your baitcaster. Pull out the side plate by putting off the screw and release the spool. This is how you can have access to every part.

Maintain Baitcasting Reel

Step 2 : Wiping with cloth

Soak a soft and clean  cloth with  alcohol and then wipe the fishing reel and every part of it with the cleaning cloth. You can also use the other option- spray the alcohol and wipe it off. It will clean the residue that settles on your baitcaster.

Reel wiping with cloth

Step 3 : Oiling and greasing

Now, take the oil that you prefer and put a small quantity of oil on q-tip and then rub the tip on spool, brake, lines, housing and other parts of the fishing reel. Start with any side, for example, dab a little drop of grease on the right side and then on the left side. Put the grease on every slot. In order to spread the gear, you can crank the reel. Do not forget to wipe and rub oil to the tension knob as well.

After finishing the cleaning task, reassemble the baitcasting reel. You will observe the difference if you compare the performance of the baitcaster before and after cleaning it. A baitcaster will stop working sooner than you want if you do not tweak its condition.

fishing reel maintenance

About the author

Immanuel Baranov

My life is pretty much defined by my avid outdoor activities. I’m generally obsessed with fishing, skiing and occasional hunting and whitewater paddling. I’ve been active since my early years. I inherited my passion for fishing from my father who made frequent family trips to the banks of Sacramento River. Growing up, I did a lot of fishing in the vicinity. Now that I have two sons, our weekends are full of fishing activities. I would say, you need good spots where you can go out a lot for the thing you love. I had the privilege to grow up near numerous water bodies and I’m proud to say that I made good use of them. It’s also great to do something with kids that helps them learn patience, endurance and preciseness.

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