How to Measure Line on a Fishing Reel

How to Measure Line on a Fishing Reel
There are various types of fishing lines spooled onto reels--ranging from monofilaments and fluorocarbon to braids. No matter the type, it can be difficult to determine how much line is currently on a reel. Especially important with new rod and reel combos that come spooled with line, knowing the number of feet you have to work with when fishing can help you determine how far you cast, how deep you fish and affect lure selection.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fishing reel
  • Fishing line
  • Permanent marker
  • Tape measure
  • 20 oz plastic bottle
  • Masking tape
Step 1
Attach the free end of the fishing line to an empty soda bottle. Use a piece of masking tape to secure the line to the bottle.
Step 2
Open the bail or release the spool of the reel so that the line can unwind freely. Wind the fishing line onto the soda bottle. This is done so that the line is not damaged and will not become tangled.
Step 3
Tear a small piece of masking tape and attach it to the line at least 8 to 9 feet away from the reel. This will provide enough room to work and measure the line.
Step 4
Measure the distance from the front of the reel to the masking tape using a tape measure. Note this measurement, as this will be a starting point.
Step 5
Turn the handle of the reel one rotation. Note the starting point of the handle before starting. Turn the handle one complete turn so that it returns to the starting point.
Step 6
Measure the distance from the front of the reel to the masking tape attached to the line. Subtract this measurement from the first to obtain the distance the line traveled for one rotation of the reel.
Step 7
Remove the masking tape, pull any line from the spool and begin winding the line onto the spool of the reel. Turn the handle of the reel slowly so that each complete rotation can be counted.
Step 8
Multiply the number of rotations required to completely spool the line by the number of feet per rotation. For example, if the feet per rotation (one complete handle turn) is 4 feet, and it took 40 rotations of the handle to spool the line, then you would multiply 4 feet by 40 rotations to equal 160 feet. Divide the total feet by 3 (number of feet in a yard) to determine the total number of yards. The result would be 160 feet divided by 3 feet equals 53.33 yards of fishing line.

Tips & Warnings

Have someone assist you with the unwinding and spooling process to help manage the line on the plastic bottle.

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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