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To Grease Or Not To Grease


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9 replies to this topic

#1 xvigauge

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 03:52 PM

Seems like I have read somewhere on this forum that one should not use grease on fly reels, but should use oil only. I think it was Mikechell, but I am not certain. I would hope that this were true as I don't like using grease for it being messy and sometimes hard to apply. I would prefer to use only oil for it's ease of application if nothing else. If one should not use grease, then why do most reel manufacturers say to apply grease on certain parts of the reel? I could see using a small amount of grease on the gear teeth only, but oil everywhere else. I collect vintage fly reels and most of them I get are caked with old dried out grease on the spool shaft, the drag or click gear and on anything that moves or turns. Once this old grease is cleaned off and replaced with a good oil, they work great.

Joe



#2 dadofmolly

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 05:54 PM

I've never used grease on any of my reels, except a little on the gears on my spinning reels and old bait casters.  Can't remember putting grease on any fly reel, including my old ones.  I use a little oil on the shafts seldom on the drag.  Have never had a problem.  Like you, when I get an old reel (usually a spinning reel) it is caked with grease and dirt.


Sometimes I need expert advice which is why I talk to myself.


#3 Poopdeck

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 06:08 PM

I'm almost afraid to say this but I brush, not cake or pack, a little amounts of axle grease on my reels and have been doing so ever since buying my first boat and trailer 30 years ago. Same grease I pack my hub bearing with. Now I clean my reels way more then they need so I don't know if that makes a difference but I've never had a problem with a spin, casting, fly, iceor saltwater reel and I Can only remember ever getting rid of a reel because it broke or wore out in my entire life.

#4 mikechell

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 06:59 PM

There was a discussion, before.  I don't know about everyone, but I stopped using grease on my reels (spinning and level wind) a few decades ago.

My fly reels? I never really thought about, since I don't use them to fight fish, preferring to work them in by hand.  I consider that to be part of the "fly fishing" difference to other forms of fishing.

 

However, a few years ago, I got my first chance to try fishing during very low temperatures.  Ice was forming in they eyes of the rod, which was irritating enough.  But the most frustrating thing was, the sprague clutch would lock open and not provide resistance.  One pull of the line, to cast more out, would "bird nest" the spool.

 

I went through all my reels as soon as I got home from that trip.  I've fish those conditions a few times since then, without any further problems.

 

As has been stated, when you open up an older reel, the grease is all clumped where it's not doing any good.  Maybe some is still doing the job, but I don't see any advantage to grease over oil.


Barbed hooks rule!
My definition of work: Doing something in which effort exceeds gain.
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#5 flytire

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 07:01 PM

no grease/oil in 38 years fly fishing


The fish care less than we do!


#6 xvigauge

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 10:05 PM

no grease/oil in 38 years fly fishing

 

So how is that workin' out for ya?

 

Joe



#7 flytire

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 06:27 AM

absolutely great!

 

no problems in 38 years

 

ross, lamson, bauer are as good as the day they came out of the box (minus a scratch here and there) :)

 

i dont dunk my reels, get sand in them, abuse them in any way etc. they stay in their respective pouch when not in use


The fish care less than we do!


#8 tjm

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 10:49 AM

Like flytire, no grease, no oil, long time passing, no problems.

 

iirc, the Medalist pamphlet stated it should be oiled, but one of my mentors was adamant that  any grease or oil would collect grit and also cause fly line deterioration, I listened to him and ~42 years later that 1494 is still fishing. Whether he was right or wrong about the destructive qualities of oil, I don't know because I never used any. I have rubbed wax on some reels and that has never caused a problem.

 

Joe, any old reels might like a coating of Boeshield after initial cleaning and drying. (new reels might like also) I have seen that  recommended by collectors.

 

 

>Oh, if using grease, how does that work when the spare spool goes in your pocket? (or oil, for that matter)



#9 mikechell

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 01:33 PM

I know people think of grease, and the mental picture is gobs of grease around axles and such on cars.  Even there, if you're seeing grease, there's too much applied.  For those people who use pump type grease guns, if you're pumping until it oozes past the seals, they're applying too much.

 

Grease should be applied in a thin coating that is barely visible.  If there are globs, then it's too much.

Oil is applied much the same way.  If it's dripping off, there's too much.

 

Can't collect grit, etc., if it's not exposed to grit, etc..

Without the excess, you also don't have to worry about your fly line getting contaminated.


Barbed hooks rule!
My definition of work: Doing something in which effort exceeds gain.
Ex-Marine ... quondam fidelis
 


#10 Capt Bob LeMay

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 05:46 PM

Most folks that fly fish are in freshwater ( I know that more and more fly fishers are also in the salt -but freshwater anglers still outnumber us 10 to 1 or more...).  As a result very little if any lube is ever needed on a freshwater reel (and too much is just as bad as running the reel completely dry... but I digress...).  I first learned to repair reels many years ago (1972) at the first tackle shop I worked at down here in south Florida and it was years before I ever worked with fly reels at all... but I have been using and repairing reels of every type (spin, plug, offshore, and yes fly reels) ever since those early days... I can actually repair any reel made - if parts are available (that's a sore point with me - lots of nice looking reels don't come with parts support these days...).  A broken reel needing a part that's not available is a candidate for the round file as far as I'm concerned...

 

Here's my take on it when we're talking fly reels.... a tiny drop of good quality light oil is all that's ever needed on the handle shaft (the part the reel handle rotates on), and on the spool shaft and most will never need to do anything else.  The reel manufacturer will have placed a very small amount of grease on gear teeth, clicker teeth, etc - if your reel has any of those items... Bearings for saltwater reels - some of them really high end items, will each need a tiny bit of oil on each bearing - then the bearing is worked back and forth a bit to allow it to work down to the race.  For reels used in saltwater I take an additional step with bearings - very lightly coating each side of each bearing with grease after the oil... not to lube the bearing but to waterproof it and seal it up... Bearings treated this way last five times as long as bearings without it on a reel used in saltwater -and I'm talking about every kind of reel from little spinning reels on up... These day many reels come with more than a half dozen various bearings (not fly reels thank heavens... ) and when they go bad and you have to replace them your wallet will feel the impact...

 

Now for something that's not talked about much - and that's modern drag washers (almost all of them synthetics... unless it's the older style cork drag washers..).  Manufacturers that build reels with cork drags (the old FinNors, the Billy Pate, and others...) will specify neatsfoot oil for cork drag washers and that will keep them working properly - but cork does get old, and chewed up (or burned up for those doing big game fishing with a fly reel) so you'll need to replace them eventually...  These days though the trend on high end reels is towards sealed drags - which are not designed to be worked on by the end user... If drag problems come up, those reels will need to go back to the manufacturer, period (Nautilus and other makes..)  For any reel that has synthetic washers that you can access... will need to be greased if they're not Teflon or something similar... Shimano and other makers actually sell a grease made specifically for drag washers (Cal's as well comes to mind..).  I've actually had great results using the stuff on cork washers as well... counter-intuitive to use grease on a braking surface but it does work quite well (and you can't burn a cork drag that's got a bit of grease on it... ask me how I know...).

 

Lots more to say about reel maintenance and repair - but very quickly I'll be talking about spinning or conventional reels so I'll stop here... Just remember that less is always better when lubing any reel... Can't remember how many reels I've repaired over the years that had too much lube that had turned into glue... clean a reel thoroughly of all the old solidified grease and it's re-born like magic....


Tight lines Bob LeMay (954) 435-5666