How to Set Up a Fishing Line

How to Set Up a Fishing Line
The first fishing trip of the season is only days away, and you imagine casting to huge, record-breaking fish. Before you head to your favorite stream, lake, beach or waterway, you must first make sure that your tackle is set up correctly. This involves assembling your rod, attaching a reel and, perhaps most importantly, setting up your fishing line. Have no fear; your trip is safe, as the process of setting up your fishing line is quick and painless. It helps insure that you are ready when you hook the big one.


Difficulty: Easy

Spinning and Bait Casting Setup

Things You’ll Need:
  • Reel
  • Snips
  • Rod
  • Fly line backing
  • Fly line
  • Leader
Step 1
Open the bail wire, if you are spooling a spinning reel, so that it locks into place.
Step 2
Attach a monofilament or other type of line to the spool of the reel by tying an arbor knot. Pass the free, or tag, end of the line around the arbor so that 4 to 5 inches of line extend past the reel. Form an overhand knot with the tag end of the line so that it passes around the main line. Tie another overhand knot toward the tag end of the line. Do not loop this knot around the main line. Pull the knot down tight and trim excess line from the knot with snips.
Step 3
Wind the required amount of line onto the reel as specified by the manufacturer. A good rule of thumb is to fill the spool about three-quarters of the way with line if the manufacturer does not supply specific information. Cut the line from the filler spool with snips.
Step 4
Pull line from the spool, and guide it through the eyes of the rod. With spinning reels, you must open the bail wire to release the line. Bait-casting reels require you to push the release button so that line is released.
Step 5
Pull enough line past the end of the rod tip that it does not slip back down through the eyes. Turn the handle of the reel to close the bail or engage the line wind so that line does not continue to spool from the reel.

Fly-Fishing Setup

Step 1
Attach the fly line backing to the fly reel with an arbor knot. Refer to step 2 in the first section for directions on tying the knot.
Step 2
Wind the fly line backing onto the reel, following the manufacturer's recommendations. If there is no information, a rule of thumb is to wind about 100 yards of backing onto the reel. This amount may need to be adjusted depending on reel size and arbor diameter.
Step 3
Attach the main fly line to the backing with an Albright knot. Tie the Albright by forming a loop in the main fly line about 2 inches from the end. Pass the tag end of the backing through the loop. Begin wrapping the backing line around the doubled fly line and the backing line. Make 8 to 10 concentric turns, working your way toward the loop. Pass the tag end of the backing line back through the loop, following the same path it took in. Pull the knot tight, and trim excess line with snips.
Step 4
Wind the fly line onto the spool. Make sure the line is wound evenly and smoothly. Transfer all of the fly line to the reel; do not cut the line. Many fly lines feature a taper or forward weight design that may be damaged by cutting. This can adversely affect the line's performance.
Step 5
Attach leader to the fly line with a surgeon's knot. Overlap the tag end of the fly line and leader for 6 to 7 inches. Form a loop with the overlapped lines. Pass the leader and main line tag end through the loop, and make three to four turns around the loop. Pull the tag ends to secure the knot, and trim excess line with snips.

Tips & Warnings

If there seems to be too much line on the fly reel or the fly line rubs against the reel, remove the line and decrease the amount of backing.

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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