How to Replace a Line in Fly-Fishing

How to Replace a Line in Fly-Fishing
A fly line is the main line used in fly-fishing to cast and retrieve a fly. Fly lines are made by various companies in a wide range of weights and colors. Replacing a fly line might be done because of wear or damage during normal fishing activities. Many anglers also change their fly lines in response to fishing conditions or when switching from one type of fly to another, such as dry to nymph fishing.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly reel
  • Fly line backing
  • Fly line
  • Leader
  • Snips
Step 1
Remove the leader and fly line from the reel. Hold the reel with one hand and pull the tag end of the line with the other. If you will be reusing the leader, cut it from the fly line. When the backing appears from the reel, use a pair of snips to cut the fly line from the backing.
Step 2
Connect a new fly line to the fly line backing. Use an Albright knot to secure the butt end of the fly line to the tag, or free, end of the backing line. Refer to the resource section for information on tying the Albright knot. Pull the knot down tightly and snip any excess line so it will not be caught on the line guides.
Step 3
Wind the fly line onto the reel. Make sure the line lays flat and is evenly spaced across the face of the reel. Wind all of the line onto the reel and leave about 12 inches exposed from the reel for attaching the leader.
Step 4
Connect a new leader to the fly line by tying a Nail or Surgeon's knot. The Surgeon's knot is typically easier for most to tie. Begin forming the Surgeon's knot by overlapping the tag ends of the fly line and leader for about 6 inches. Form a loop with both lines and wrap the leader and main line tag end around the loop for 2 to 3 turns. Pull the knot tight and trim excess line with the snips.
Step 5
Wind the leader onto the reel. Secure the end of the leader to a anchor point on the reel or with a small piece of masking tape to prevent the line from spooling off the reel.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure all knots are pulled down securely and all excess line is trimmed from around the knot to prevent snagging on the line guides.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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