5 Fishing Reel Lubricant Alternatives [Should You Use Them?]

Fishing Reel Lubricant Alternatives

Reels are sophisticated mechanic devices that consist of a lot of parts, and as you know, the good ones can cost a fortune.

Some anglers are brand loyal, others want exclusively fishing reels made in USA, and some don’t care about it as long as the reel works.

To make them work flawlessly you have to lubricate regularly. Before you ask someone can you use WD40 on fishing reels and they tell you yes, hear me out.

Fishing reel lubricant alternatives are available, but you shouldn’t use any kind of oil or grease that comes in handy. Especially not degreasers like WD40. However, there are some products that can be used, and they will do the job right.

Reel maintenance is extremely important and it will make your reel last longer and work better, so you should never skip this step.

If you are out of lubricants, you are in the right place! Read on to find out what to use.



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What Alternatives Can You Use to Lubricate a Fishing Reel?

Before you even start taking some lubricants, you should learn how to oil a fishing reel. I have to mention that not all parts are lubricated with the same substance. Get to know all parts of a fishing reel before you start disassembling and working on it. Remember that grease goes on gears and oil goes to bearings.

The reason why many greasy substances are not a good option, and there would be a long list of what NOT to use, is viscosity. Some oils are too thick, some too thin, some attract dust, and others wash off easily and don’t stay on under pressure. Some even contain chemicals that can destroy your reel, or significantly change their properties under very hot or cold temperatures.

Here are safe fishing reel lubricant alternatives you can use next time you need it!

Fishing Reel Lubricant Alternatives - Ball Bearings

#1: Marine Grease

Marine grease is used for boat parts, and it can also be used for your reels. One of the best advantages is extreme corrosion resistance.

This substance is thick and very heavy, and that can make it hard to apply. It tends to stay on for a long time, but it also absorbs impurities. So don’t let this durability fool you. Reels lubricated with marine grease actually have to be cleaned more frequently.

Some anglers mistakenly think that they could safely use automobile grease instead of marine, but I have to tell you it is not the case, and it will not protect your fishing reel against corrosion.

#2: Gun Oil

I know that this may not be the option for many anglers around the world, but if you are living in the US, this is one of the best alternatives! This substance is cheap, protects your reel from rust, and doesn’t contain any reel-harmful additives.

Choose gun machine oils that are safe for multi-use, and those will be safe for your reel. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they will work great for every fishing reel part.

Due to thickness, avoid using it on ball bearings. High viscosity can make it hard for you to apply it, and in the long run it could accumulate dust and tiny particles.

This can make your reel very stiff and make cranking harder. Avoid using it on ball bearings.

However, gun oil is available as spray or liquid, so you can choose the one that you can easily use. Just make sure to clean your fishing reel a bit more often than if you are using reel rated lubricants.

#3: Sewing machine oil

As a lubricant for fishing reel, sewing machine oil is both a YES, and a NO. It will not damage any type of reel or its components, however it also won’t protect it against corrosion.

It can be used on your fishing gear, however the salt from sea can make it very solid and abrasive. It goes better with freshwater reels.

If you plan to use it for an occasional fishing trip and you will clean and lubricate your reel again soon, then it is perfectly fine. You can also use it for parts like handle or other “less important” reel parts.

When you are choosing such alternative product, you have to be sure that it can be used with materials your reel is made of. Whether it is stainless steel, aluminium, or some other metal, lubricant must be compatible.

The biggest downside of this oil is that it wears out fast, after just a few uses.

Fishing Reel Lubricant Alternatives - Sewing Machine Oil

#4: Liquid bearings lubricant

If you don’t have any proper reel oils, this can be a good choice for fishing reels. It is a multi-purpose synthetic lubricant that can be used on sewing machines, guns, reels and many other fine machinery.

This lubricant has corrosion prevention properties and that makes it suitable for fishing.

What makes it great, at least according to the manufacturer, is the fact that it won’t react with components in other lubricants, so if there is some residue from previous lubricants on your gear, you won’t have any negative side-effects.

Liquid bearings lubricant does not attract or retain impurities, so you don’t have to worry that it will become dirty and abrasive. I would recommend you to use this one, and not some random light machine oil because of this reason.

However, due to viscosity, it should be changed more frequently than standard reel-rated lubricants.

#5: Corrosion X

This is a multi-purpose lubricant with anti-corrosive properties. It can be used on all kinds of things, including reels.

Corrosion X lubricant is compatible with all kinds of metals, and you don’t have to worry it will damage your precious reel components.

Unlike substances as WD 40, it is also more environmentally friendly, and you don’t have to worry about well-being of fish in a local pond.

Although the viscosity may not be the best here, when compared with other lubricants on the list, it has the best anticorrosion properties.

Being widely available, this lubricant is actually a common choice among anglers looking for something to protect their reels when nothing else is available.

Same as with other alternatives, you will have to clean and lubricate your reel more often.

I would say that all these alternatives are ok to use when you don’t have anything else and they won’t do harm, but your first choice should always be proper fishing reel grease or fishing reel oil. Of course, it is better to use any lubricant from this list than not to use anything.

Should You Use All of These Alternatives? [Are All of them Good?]

No matter the types of fishing reels you are using, they all need to be properly maintained.

All fishing reel lubricant alternatives I mentioned above be used safely, otherwise I would not instruct you to do so. If you are a bit sceptical, you can always go with specialized lubricant made for reels only.

There is one thing I would like to explain here and that is WD40, which was already mentioned. WD40 is a great thing to have, but it is not good for reel lubrication. This substance had degreasing properties and in the long run, it can mess up your reel. WD stands for water displacement, and it repels water, it does not lubricate well.

Can you use WD40 on reels is a common debate among anglers and the thing is, you can use it, just not as lubrication. It can be used to remove corrosion, or if some parts got stuck and you need to loosen them up to disassemble. And when you are done, remove any traces of it.

You can play a bit and use some “shady” oil for fishing reels if they are cheap and old so you won’t suffer a lot if they break, however if you invested in very expensive reels, don’t test your luck. Professional anglers know about importance of reel maintenance, and they wouldn’t use random substances on it.

To make it easier for you, here is a list of alternatives which are NOT good:

• WD 40
• Automobile oil and any motor oil
• 3 in 1 oil
• Vegetable cooking oils
• Vaseline
• Lithium grease
• Silicone spray

So, forget about cooking oils and motor oils! When lubricating your fishing equipment, also forget about silicone spray as a lubricant. It is a great protectant for rubber parts but does not work well as proper lubrication.

Fishing Reel Lubricant Alternatives - Automobile Oil


Fishing reel lubricant alternatives can really come in handy if you have to do some maintenance work on your reel, however, I personally prefer using specialized products if I can.

There is no difference between baitcasting vs spinning reel when it comes to safe alternatives for lubrication, and type of reel doesn’t play a role here.

And if you are wondering why this is so important, ask yourself would you like your reel to give up in a moment you are about to land a big one!

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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