Step-by-Step Guide on How to Set Up a Fishing Line

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Set Up a Fishing Line
A new rod and reel offer the ultimate symbol of hope for a successful fishing season. Well, at least a new rod and reel signify that good times on the water await. Before you try out that new rod, you must first set up the line. Don't overlook the importance of your line setup. Use the right method and knots so that at the end of the day you are posing with the big one instead of watching it swim away with your line.


Difficulty: Easy

Spinning and Baitcast Reel Setup

Things You’ll Need:
  • Spinning reel
  • Baitcast reel
  • Fly reel
  • Monofilament or other similar line
  • Fly line backing
  • Fly line
  • Leader
Step 1
Open the bail of your spinning reel so that it locks in place. For bait cast reels, locate the small guide located on the frame in front of the spool. The line will need to be threaded through the small guide before attaching to the spool.
Step 2
Wrap the line around the arbor, or center, of the spool. Make sure that 6 to 7 inches of line extend past the spool. Attach the line to the spool with an arbor knot. Refer to the resource section for tying the arbor knot. Pull the knot down securely against the center of the spool and trim any excess with snips.
Step 3
Close the bail of the spinning reel. Turn the handle of the spinning or bait cast reel to begin winding line onto the spool. Apply tension to the line as it winds onto the spool so that it will lie flat across the face of the spool.
Step 4
Place enough line on the spool so that it is three-fourths full as a rule of thumb. Refer to the reel manufacturer's recommendations for exact amount of line.
Step 5
Cut the line from the filling spool with snips and anchor the line to the line keeper located on the side of the reel. If a keeper is not installed, use a small piece of masking tape to anchor the line in place and prevent winding from the spool.

Fly Reels

Step 1
Attach the fly line backing to your fly reel with an arbor knot. Pass 6 to 7 inches of backing around the center of the spool. Refer to the resource section for directions on tying the arbor knot. Pull the knot down tightly against the spool and trim excess line with snips.
Step 2
Wind about 100 yards of backing onto the fly reel. This is a rule of thumb that can be followed, especially if there are no recommendations from the manufacturer. This amount may vary based on the size of the fly reel and the type of backing material being used, such as older Dacron or a monofilament.
Step 3
Tie the main fly line to the backing with an Albright knot. Refer to the resource section for instructions on how to tie the Albright. Pull the knot down securely and trim excess with snips.
Step 4
Spool all of the fly line onto the reel. Many fly lines may feature a taper or weight forward design that may be damaged by cutting. If there seems to be too much line on the reel, remove the fly line and adjust the amount of backing.
Step 5
Attach a leader to the fly line with a surgeon's knot. Overlap the main line and leader line for 6 to 7 inches and form a loop with both sections. Pass the leader and main line tag end through the loop and make three or four wraps in and around the loop. Pull the tag ends of both lines to tighten the knot. Trim the knot with snips.

Tips & Warnings

Moisten the knots slightly before pulling tight. This will help the knots pull tight and resist coming undone.

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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