How to Set Up a Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod

How to Set Up a Saltwater Fly Fishing Rod
Take one part saltwater, one part game fish and add a lightweight fly fishing outfit and you have the recipe for a potentially memorable fishing experience. Saltwater fly rods are typically heavier than those used for stream fishing. However, fly rods overall are still considered lightweight tackle compared to many stiff-action spinning or casting rods. Setting up the fly rod is an important first step before heading out to cast for saltwater game fish.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly reel
  • Fly line backing
  • Fly line
  • Leader
  • Snips
Step 1
Assemble your saltwater fly rod by connecting the sections together. Align the line guides and connect the sections of the rod. Use firm pressure and slightly twist the sections to secure. Attach the fly reel to the rod by placing it on the reel seat and locking it in place with the locking rings. Make sure the handle of the reel is positioned correctly for you, depending on whether you are left- or right-handed.
Step 2
Select a monofilament or Dacron backing material for the fly reel. Wrap the free, or tag, end of the line around the arbor of the reel. Secure the backing by tying an arbor knot. Form a loop around the main line with the tag end and form an overhand knot. Below this knot, form another overhand knot with only the tag end. Pull both knots tight around the arbor and trim excess from the knot with snips.
Step 3
Wind at least 100 to 150 yards of backing onto the reel. Make sure the backing lies even and flat on the spool. Leave 12 inches or so of backing extending from the reel to be used for attaching the fly line. Use an Albright knot to secure the fly line to the backing.
Step 4
Lay the fly line spool on a work surface and apply slight resistance to the fly line while winding. Make sure the line is evenly spaced across the spool. Wind all of the fly line onto the fly reel except for a foot or so that will be used to attach a leader.
Step 5
Tie a leader to the fly line with a surgeon's knot. Overlap the fly line and leader for 6 inches or so. Form a loop with the two lines. Wrap the leader and fly line tag end through and around the loop for three to four turns. Hold both tag ends and pull the knot down tightly. Trim excess line with snips.

Tips & Warnings

Attach a tippet, if necessary, to the leader using another surgeon's knot. Flies and streamers may be attached to the leader or tippet with an improved clinch knot.

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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