Does WD40 Damage Your Fishing Line?

Serious fishermen will try all sorts of things for a successful catch. As legend has it, some fishing connoisseurs apply WD40 to their fishing lines to attract fish. Others have used it to clean off the reel. There are opposing opinions as to whether or not WD40 can actually damage your fishing line.

 WD40 can cause damage to some parts of your fishing line if used repeatedly over time. This is because the chemicals in WD40 can damage some materials and have little to no effect on others. It is, however, an effective solvent for getting rid of saltwater build up on the inner rings of your lines.

If you are an avid angler, you’ll want to review the facts to decide for yourself as to whether or not you think WD40 is safe to use on your line. Let’s take a look at each side of the debate to determine why WD40 can be damaging to damaging parts of your fishing line but effective in maintaining other parts of theline.

Why Some Fishermen Use Spray WD40 On Their Fishing Line

Anglers who are proponents of using WD40 on fishing lines, claim that the formula maintains the fishing line by:

  • Keeping it soft
  • Keeping it supple
  • Preventing wind knots from occurring

As fishing lines are exposed to both water and air for extended periods of time, the reels are at high risk for forming rust and becoming corroded. The use of WD40 also prevents rust and corrosion from forming.

WD40 standards for “water displacement, 40th attempt”. While it is often used as a lubricant, WD40 is not an oil but rather a product used to displace water in order to prevent corrosion.

This makes a great product for preventing the corrosion of the fishing line’s inner rings.

Many fishermen will argue that WD40 works fine with monofilament which is made out of the same material that gas cans are made out of. Monofilament material is made by melting and mixing polymers.

Basically, it is a single, continuous strand (filament) of synthetic fiber. The most common monofilament used on a fishing line is nylon. This means that a petroleum based substance should not damage the material.

For decades it has been a legend among fishermen that spraying WD40 on your fishing line will attract lots of fish for a great haul.

Some fishermen use it regularly and will swear that fishing with WD40 on the line did in fact increase the number of fish they were able to catch.

Many believe that it attracts fish because they think there is fish oil in the WD40 formula. They feel this attracts fish. But the Rocket Chemical Company, whose founders developed the WD40 solution have publicly announced that there is no fish oil in their product.

The Argument Against Using WD40 On Your Fishing Line

People have conducted their own experiments to see if WD40 does indeed attract more fish. For every fisherman who says that it is effective, there is another one to say they didn’t see an increase.

One product that is recommended by fishermen as a fish attractant is Gulp! Alive!.

Using WD40 to clean your fishing line reels could possibly burn the monoline because it contains petroleum base oil. It also reduces the viscosity of lubricants in the long run, making them less effective. This means you would have to replace your fishing line more often.

As far as actual damage to the fishing line from applying WD40, that may be the extent of it. WD40 may not be as damaging as some fishermen claim but it also may not be as effective for cleaning or lubricating your fishing line as proponents claim.

Many fishermen simply use warm soapy water to clean off the reels and remove any sticky films or build up left by water or other products rather than spraying WD40 on them. Soap is effective at breaking down various substances.

WD40 is an excellent solvent but its properties as a lubricant for a fishing reel are short term and not as effective as using another type of grease or oil. It can also gum up and leave a residue as well as collect dirt.

Fishermen who advocate against using WD40 feel that it is not the best practice for preventing rust and corrosion in the reel. It is argued that a corrosion block is more effective.

What Chemicals Are In WD40?

The full list of ingredients is “top secret” but there are some known key ingredients. In order to determine whether or not WD40 should be used on your fishing line, it’s important to understand how the chemicals interact with different materials.

The known ingredients are:

  • Aliphatic Hydrocarbon
  • Petroleum Base Oil
  • Surfactant

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons

This is an organic compound containing hydrogen and carbon atoms that are usually linked together in chains in chains that are straight. Sometimes they are arranged in branched trains or in the form of non-aromatic structures.

These compounds can be either:

  • Saturated
  • Unsaturated

Common examples of aliphatic hydrocarbons are:

  • Ethylene
  • Isooctane
  • Acetylene
  • Propene
  • Propane
  • Squalene
  • Polyethylene
  • Methane

Petroleum Base Oil

Base oils are used to make products such as lubricating greases, motor oil, and motor processing fluids.

All good lubricants (such as WD40) contain a base oil plus additives. There are three types of base oils:

Type of Base OilDescription
MineralObtained from crude oils
VegetableAlso called biolubricants, these biodegrade rapidly and are non-toxic for human beings and aquatic habitats
SyntheticMan-made fluids that are beneficial for use in extreme conditions

A good lubricant will have the following properties:

  • High boiling point and low freezing point
  • High viscosity index
  • Thermal stability
  • Hydraulic stability
  • Demulsibility  (ability to release water)
  • Corrosion prevention
  • High resistance to oxidation


The word surfactant is formed from the phrase “surface-active agent”. Considered the most versatile products in the chemical industry, surfactants are used in a variety of products including:

  • Household detergents
  • Drilling muds
  • Food items
  • Pharmaceuticals

Surfactants are compounds that lower surface tension between:

  • Two liquids
  • A gas and a liquid
  • A liquid and a solid.

They can act as the following products:

  • Detergents
  • Wetting agents
  • Emulsifiers
  • Foaming agents
  • Dispersants

How The Ingredients In WD40 Impact Your Fishing Line

The hydrocarbons in WD40 are flammable but unless you are applying it near a flame, that should not impact your fishing line.

The oil in WD40 is mainly a mix of baby oil and Vaseline. Both of these mineral oils are a distillation of gasoline from crude oils. There is no evidence that they are harmful for your fishing line.

The surfactants in WD40 help to break down water on the reel in order to prevent rust and corrosion.

Toxic for Aquatic Eco-systems

Perhaps the more appropriate question is whether WD40 is damaging to the water and aquatic life. The company itself recommends not using WD40 to catch fish.

If used frequently by many fishermen, the product would eventually build up in the water in popular fishing areas. This would impact the pH of the water and harm fish and other aquatic life.

The Final Verdict on WD40 And Your Fishing Line

After reviewing the evidence, it seems clear that WD40’s chemical composition could react differently to different materials on the fishing line. Frequent use over time can eventually eat away at some materials and can also cause residue build up and collect dirt.

However, while not the most effective product, it can also prevent rust and corrosion from water exposure from ruining your fishing line.

While there are better corrosion blockers available, WD40 isn’t overtly harmful to your fishing line.

What can be stated definitely is that WD40 does not conclusively increase the number of fish you catch. It may also have a negative impact on aquatic ecosystems if used in large quantities. Bearing these facts, while WD40 may cause minimal damage to your fishing line, it probably isn’t the best product to maintain your line.

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