It’s often overlooked that anything you own that moves or spins needs to be maintained if you want it to stay in top shape. The weather and heavy use takes its toll over time.
But not everyone has fishing reel lubricant just sitting around in their shed.
So what fishing reel lubricant alternatives can be used on your favorite reel if you don’t have any reel grease available?
We’ll take a look at some common household items that you should (and shouldn’t!) use as a substitute reel lubricant.
Are there any Decent Fishing Reel Lubricant Alternatives?
Now although they are marketed for firearms, these are actually pretty decent lubricants than can be used for other applications.
Gun Oil will work as a substitute for fishing reel lubricant, but it isn’t the optimal solution.
If you have some handy go ahead and use it to lube your reels. But don’t expect it to be a long lasting lubricant. It will get you through your next couple of fishing trips but you will notice it wears off pretty quickly.
We’ve all got it. We’ve all used it. That classic blue and yellow can with the red top is found in every house in America. And it might be the first thing you reach for to lubricate your fishing gear.
But should you use WD-40 as a fishing reel lubricant substitute?
Look at it this way. WD-40 is a fix all tool, it’s not a specialist tool.
- If your door hinges are creaking, you reach for the WD-40.
- If your bike chain looks a bit rusty, you give it a spray with WD-40.
Sure it does the job. But think about how messy and dirty it is. Every time you spray WD-40 you end up wiping long black drips off the door or off your legs. It’s not a clean lubricant, but it’s a useful one.
WD-40 is a degreaser and a solvent that often does a better job of cleaning gear than lubricating it. You may end up displacing some of the original lube/grease on the inner parts of your fishing reel if you apply WD-40.
If you have nothing else available then you can do worse than reaching for the WD-40, but if you like to keep your fishing reels nice and clean then don’t spray any WD-40 anywhere near them.
So you’ve probably got some oil that you use in your truck or car. And you’ve probably got a different oil that you use in your boat or lawnmower.
Valvoline, Pennzoil, Castrol GTX – you know what I’m talking about!
Can you use motor oil to lubricate your fishing reels?
I’m not going to say absolutely not, motor oils are synthetic oils just like reel oil is.
But how about probably not.
If you have very light motor oil that is quite thin, 5W30 or similar. And if you have nothing else available. And if you really want to lube you reels in a hurry. Then maybe you could use light motor oil.
But I wouldn’t use it on a reel that I liked.
This stuff is just too thick to be suited to a precision piece of kit like a fishing reel. It can gunk up all the moving pieces rather than making them spin better.
There are better options out there.
Here’s another product that we’ve all got at home and we’ve all used at one point or another. Timeless Vaseline has been used for all purposes from sealing cuts to preventing diaper rash to uhh… various other bedroom uses.
I’m not going spend too much time on this one. Vaseline is no good for use on fishing reels.
- It’s too thick
- It’s too gunky
- It’s just not what you are looking for
Keep searching for other fishing reel lubricant alternatives.
3 in 1 Oil
This is more of an industrial lubricant suited to industrial purposes. Fishing reels are intricate pieces of equipment that are better suited to thinner, more precision lubes.
Avoid using 3 in 1 oil as a lubricant on your fishing gear as it will cause more harm than good.
You will probably end up with a reel that jams more often than it was previously if you use 3 in 1 oil.
Although your wife’s Olive oil may taste nice, and you may be tempted to reach for it to use on your fishing gear, please don’t. Cooking oils like vegetable oil, canola oil and olive oil are not designed for this purpose.
Especially if you live in a colder region!
Have you ever seen what happens to these oils when you place them in the refrigerator?
They go all thick and crusty, almost solid like. They become viscous messes.
Do not put cooking oil on your fishing reels.
Mineral Oils like Turpentine are another common household product that you may think can solve your lube problem in a jiffy. But mineral oils can be quite corrosive, which is why you should always wear gloves when handling turpentine!
I know, I know. I’ve washed paint off my hands with Turpentine too.
But you know how your hands feel afterwards?
Yeah, that’s not a good thing.
Mineral Oils will damage any rubber and plastic parts that it comes into contact with on your fishing rod.
Turpentine is not a fishing reel lubricant alternative.
Hair Clipper Oil
If you do your own buzz cuts you might have some Hair Clipper oil that came with the clippers and be tempted to use that on your reels.
But unless you know what the clipper oil is made from, I would be hesitant to use it.
Especially if the clippers cost you $20 or $30 from Walmart!
Do you really think they are including a high quality lubricant along with their Chinese made clippers?
I don’t think so.
The Last Cast
We’ve looked at various alternatives that you can use to lube your fishing reel.
Gun Oil is your best alternative lubricant, and WD-40 can be used in a pinch if you’ve got an old reel that isn’t running very well. But I wouldn’t use it on a reel that you actually care about.
The reality is that with any specialized equipment you are always going to be best off using an oil that is designed specifically for that gear.
- You don’t put cooking oil in car engines
- You don’t spray cuts and wounds with WD-40
- And you don’t lube your gun with Vaseline
These are fishing reel lubricant alternatives that can be used if you really need them, but the right way to go is to buy a fishing reel lubricant that is fit for purpose.
Especially if you’ve spent good money on a quality rod and reel!
Do you have a favorite fishing reel lubricant alternative that has served you well over the years?
Let others know your recommendation below.