How to Rig a Fly Fishing Line

How to Rig a Fly Fishing Line
Preparing to fly fish involves setting up or rigging the fly fishing line. Unlike spinning or casting set ups which typically only require a monofilament or similar line with which to fish, fly fishing has associated nuances which are somewhat unique to fly fishing. In addition to the fly line, there is backing, a leader and tippet to consider. Additionally, there are specific knots which are used to connect the different sections together and ensure there is no unintended separation.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod and reel Fly line Fly line backing Fly line leader Fly line tippet Ten penny nail
  • Fly rod and reel
  • Fly line
  • Fly line backing
  • Fly line leader
  • Fly line tippet
  • Ten penny nail
Step 1
Attach the backing to the fly reel by tying an arbor knot. Wrap the backing around the spool of the reel. Tie an overhand knot around the long portion of line leading to the reel.
A few inches away, tie another overhand knot near the end of the short section of line. This time do not include the main line. Pull the knots down tight and adjust them against the reel. Wind the backing snugly around the spool.
Step 2
Attach the main fly line to the backing using a nail knot. To tie this knot, place a nail alongside and between the backing and fly line. Wrap the backing back around itself, the nail and toward the end of the fly line for about six turns.
Next, take the remaining backing and pass the end through the knot following along side the nail. Moisten the knot and slowly pull the knot snug. Clip any excessive ends from both the line and backing.
Step 3
To attach the leader to the fly line, the nail knot should be repeated. Keep in mind that the lines will be placed with ends going opposite directions with the nail in between. When working with monofilaments, remember to wet the knot prior to pulling down tight as monofilaments gain added strength with this process. Again, trim any excessive line.
Step 4
When attaching the tippet to the leader, the surgeon knot will be tied. Once again with the lines coming together from opposite directions, cross them for about 5 inches or so. Holding them tightly together, form a loop in the middle of the section. While holding the loop, pass both free ends of the lines, one at a time, through the loop. Repeat this step two times. Wet the knot, and pull down to tighten. Clip any loose ends from the knot.
Step 5
Before attaching a fly to the tippet, you will need to snugly wind all of the line, leader and tippet onto the reel except for approximately 8 to 10 feet which will be used for stringing through the eyes of the rod. To help with the process, double the fly line near the end and pass the small loop through the eyes of the rod.
Step 6
To attach the tippet to the fly, the improved clinch knot can be utilized. Begin by passing the tippet through the eye of the fly hook for about three inches. Twist the short end of the line around the main line for five to six turns. This will form a small loop near the eye of the hook through which the loose short piece of line will pass. Do not tighten as you will see another loop formed between the last turn and the small loop. Pass the line back through this loop, moisten and tighten.

Tips & Warnings

Make sure the fly line, leader and tippet are matched to not only one another but the fly rod itself.
Use caution when tying monofilament knots as it is possible to cut your self particularly while pulling knots tight.

Article Written By Tara Dooley

Tara Dooley has written for various websites since 2008. She has worked as an accountant, after-school director and retail manager in various locations. Dooley holds a Bachelor of Science in business management and finance.

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