How do I Put Line on a Fly Fishing Reel?

How do I Put Line on a Fly Fishing Reel?
For many people, the sport of fly fishing is shrouded in mystery. However, when the layers of mystique are peeled away, what remains is an exciting method of angling that requires a basic understanding of lines, knots, flies and the fish you are pursuing. The basics of fly fishing involve setting up a new rod and reel with line. Connecting the line is done using knots that are designed for a specific purpose. By following some simple guidelines, most anglers can learn the basics of putting a fly line on a reel and rod.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod with matched reel
  • Electrical tape
  • Fly line backing
  • Fly line
  • Sharp scissors or snips
Step 1
Determine the amount of fly line backing you will need on your reel by first installing the fly line, then the backing on top. Tape the free end of the fly line to the spool with electrical tape and wind all of the line onto the spool. Tape the free end of backing line to the fly line on the spool. Fill the spool with backing line until it is 1/4 inch from the edge of the spool. Cut the backing free from the filler spool with scissors.
Step 2
Remove the backing line. Wrap it around a spare spool, soda bottle or other convenient round tube. Remove the fly line and wind it onto the feeder spool from which it came. You now have the correct amount of backing needed for your fly reel.
Step 3
Attach the backing to the spool of the reel with an Arbor knot. Tie the knot by pulling several inches of the backing line around and past the spool. Form an overhand knot with the free end, wrapping the loop of the knot around the main line. Tie another overhand knot in the free end of the line below the first knot. Pull the knots tight against the spool.
Step 4
Apply tension to the backing line between the reel and first line guide. Wind the line evenly onto the face of the spool.
Step 5
Connect the main fly line to the backing with an Albright knot. Form the Albright by doubling the line 2 to 3 inches from the free end of the line so that you have a loop followed by a short length of double line. Pull the free end of the backing line through the loop and down past the doubled line.
Step 6
Hold the doubled fly line and backing line in place and wrap the free end of the backing around all three lines six times. Feed the free end of the backing line through the loop the way it originally passed. Pull the knot tight and trim excess with sharp scissors or snips.
Step 7
Apply tension to the main fly line in front of the reel. Wind it evenly onto the spool of the fly reel.

Tips & Warnings

It is important to determine the correct amount of backing for a reel if this information is not provided by the manufacturer.
Avoid cutting the main fly line if all of the line will not fit on the spool of the reel. Cutting the line could possibly damage or impact the design of the line.

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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