What Grease Do I Use for Fishing Reels

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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Maintaining your fishing reel is crucial to making sure it lasts a lifetime and doesn’t fail when it is needed most. I have learned 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 the performance of your reel with new grease on the gearing. It will feel like a brand new fishing reel.

PENN Reel Grease, 2 oz
  • 2 Ounce Tub
  • Superior lubricity, water stability, load-carrying capacity and rust protection
  • Performs over a wide temperature range
  • Excellent oxidation and thermal resistance
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.

1. Penn Fishing Reel Grease

Penn Fishing Reel Grease

Penn is 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 Penn product is my top recommendation as the best fishing reel grease that is suitable for a wide range of reels.


  • 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
PENN Reel Grease, 2 oz
  • 2 Ounce Tub
  • Superior lubricity, water stability, load-carrying capacity and rust protection
  • Performs over a wide temperature range
  • Excellent oxidation and thermal resistance

2. Quantum Hot Sauce Reel Grease

Quantum Hot Sauce Reel Grease

This Quantum Hot Sauce is 100% fully synthetic grease. It provides 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 the USA
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • 100% fully synthetic grease


  • Only a small quantity so if you have a lot of reels then this might not be suitable
Quantum Hot Sauce Reel Grease
  • Long Lasting Lubrication
  • Superior Protection
  • Low Friction Polymers
  • 5 Year Warranty Against Defects

3. Ardent Reel Butter

What Grease Do I Use for Fishing Reels 6

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
Ardent Reel Butter Oil
  • Fully Synthetic Lubricant
  • Anti-Gumming Agent
  • Super Low Viscosity and high surface tension reduces wear and noise
  • Consistent performance within a wide range of temperatures

4. Cal’s Universal Fishing Reel Grease

Cal's Universal Fishing Reel Grease

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, and 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
Cal's Universal Fishing Reel Grease
  • 1 Ounce Tub
  • Reduces Gear Train Friction
  • Superior Heat and Wear Resistance
  • Purple Color to See Where Applied

5. Abu Garcia Fishing Reel Oil

Abu Garcia Fishing Reel Oil

Abu Garcia also provides 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 get oil into tight spots. It also helps avoid getting oil into the wrong places. I would rate this as one of the best fishing reel oils available on the market.


  • Needle Applicator 1 oz Tube
  • Good value for money


  • Nil
Abu Garcia Fishing Reel Grease
  • Low Viscosity Formula
  • Resistant to Heat and Cold
  • Ideal for Baitcasting Reels
  • Corrosion Resistant

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

Fishing Reel Maintenance Guide

If you are looking for fishing reel grease, you are likely going to be interested in this maintenance guide.

Required Materials

  • Your fishing 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 is certainly 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.

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 of 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.

Grease Features

Not all fishing reel grease is created equal. Each type is manufactured differently, with a unique combination of components that determine its performance. Here is a detailed guide on the features you should pay attention to when choosing fishing reel grease.

Lubricating Properties

The primary role of grease is to reduce friction between moving parts in your fishing reel. The lubricating properties of grease refer to its ability to provide a smooth surface that decreases the resistance when parts come into contact with each other.

High-quality fishing reel grease will have superior lubricating properties, ensuring smoother reel operation and prolonged life of your fishing gear.

Look for terms like ‘high lubricity’ or ‘excellent lubrication’ when reading product descriptions.

Separation Rates

Fishing reel grease is typically a mixture of base oil and a thickening agent, often a type of soap. Ideally, these components should remain combined under various conditions, from sitting in storage to withstanding the movement of the reel.

However, in lower-quality products, they may separate, causing a decrease in the performance and efficiency of your reel. The separation rate of grease indicates how stable this mixture is.

Greases with low separation rates are preferable for maintaining consistent performance.

Rust Inhibitors

The marine environment can be harsh on your fishing gear, especially if you frequently fish in saltwater. Salt can cause corrosion or rust, damaging the reel’s components over time.

To prevent this, look for fishing reel grease that contains rust inhibitors. These chemicals protect your reel from rusting by forming a protective layer over its metal parts, extending the life of your gear.

Water Resistance

As fishing gear is often exposed to water, the grease used on the reel should be water-resistant. Poor quality greases may get washed off or dislodged by water flow, diminishing their effectiveness.

Water-resistant greases will stay put, protecting and lubricating your reel, even when immersed in water or exposed to rain.

Look for terms like ‘waterproof’ or ‘water-resistant’ when considering the product.

Thermal Stability

When you use your fishing reel, the movement of the gears can generate heat. This can be especially pronounced in hot summer conditions, potentially causing the grease to lose its consistency and effectiveness.

On the other hand, cold conditions, such as those experienced in ice fishing, could also affect the performance of the grease. The thermal stability of a grease refers to its ability to retain its properties and performance across a range of temperatures.

To ensure the longevity and efficient operation of your reel, choose a grease with high thermal stability.

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

If you keep your fishing reels 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 reels in saltwater frequently then you will want to re-grease them more often.


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.

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