How to Put a Fishing Line on a Baitcasting Reel

How to Put a Fishing Line on a Baitcasting Reel
Winding new line on a baitcasting reel doesn't require special equipment, although perfectionists might insist on special devices or have the reel loaded at a pro shop. Consulting the reel's manual reveals any special considerations, but the same general principles apply to anything from low-profile freshwater reels to heavy big-game reels for saltwater prey. A correctly wound reel will reduce the number of problems you'll have with tangled lines and backlashes, but it won't completely eliminate those issues.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bait-casting rod and reel
  • Fishing line
  • Pencil
  • Empty cereal box
  • Gravel, 3 cups
  • Pocket knife
  • Cotton glove
  • Split shot sinker, #4
  • Pliers
Step 1
Cut the top off the cereal box and cut a 4-inch deep gap on one edge. Pour the gravel into the box for extra weight.
Step 2
Hold the reel of new line in the box with the center of the reel an inch below the top of the cardboard walls. Punch the pencil through the cardboard, passing through the reel center. Make sure the reel spins freely.
Step 3
Pass the end of the new fishing line through the rod tip and line guides on the fishing pole. Run the line through the baitcasting reel's bail, the wire guide or round port that moves the line from side to side as the reel winds.
Step 4
Pass the new fishing line over the spool of the fishing reel and pull a foot of line out towards the rod. Tie the line to the spool with an arbor knot. Pass the end over the main line and then then over itself and down through the loop it forms. Draw the knot tight. Make a second hitch in the line end as close to the first knot as possible. Trim off the extra line.
Step 5
Crank the reel until the bail sits at the right side of the spool. Cinch the line tight on the spool and begin winding the line.
Step 6
Control tension by holding a thumb against the line as it passes through the first line guide. Wear a cotton glove to avoid blisters and line cuts.
Step 7
Fill the reel to within 1/8 inch of the top. Some reels include level marks on the spool's sides, so fill only to the desired mark to ensure reliable performance.
Step 8
Crimp the large split shot sinker on the line just past the rod tip. Cut the line beyond the sinker. Reel in slightly to keep light pressure on the line while in storage.

Tips & Warnings

Match the line to the reel. Most reels require line of a particular pound-test rating
Professional loading systems place consistent pressure on the line. At home, set the drag of the reel to half the reel's maximum while winding. Ease off thumb pressure if the drag slips.
Loosely wound spools overwrap easily. Under higher pressure--when reeling in a fighting fish--the line sinks between loose layers instead of winding on top and causes what Shimano Corporation calls "mono-compaction."

Article Written By James Young

James Young began writing in 1969 as a military journalist combat correspondent in Vietnam. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," Sonar 4 ezine, "Stars & Stripes" and "Fine Woodworking." He has worked as a foundryman, woodturner, electronics technician, herb farmer and woodcarver. Young graduated from North Seattle Community College with an associate degree in applied science and electronic technology.

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