How to Set Up a Fly Rod

How to Set Up a Fly Rod
After you come home with a brand new fly rod and a whole bag of goodies that the sales man made sure you had before leaving the store, you are lost. Don't fret, with a little knowledge you will be on the river in no time. Here are some helpful guidelines for rigging a fly rod.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod Fly reel Backing material Fly line Leader Tippet Nail clippers Crazy Glue
  • Fly rod
  • Fly reel
  • Backing material
  • Fly line
  • Leader
  • Tippet
  • Nail clippers
  • Crazy Glue
Step 1
Install the reel on the rod. Most people like the reel handle on the left side so they can reel with their left hand, but it is really a matter of preference. Put the reel in the reel seat and tighten down as much as possible by hand.
Step 2
Run the backing material (usually Dacron or sometimes mono) through at least two eyes in the big part of your fly rod and attach to the arbor or reel hub with an Arbor knot and pull tight. Wind the backing on with your winding hand and hold the rod and line with the other hand. Try to put pressure on the line so that there is resistance as the line is wound on the reel. Wind the appropriate number of yards on for the fishing you will be doing. For most fresh water fishing, the backing is only for a filler as you rarely would get into the backing on a fish. Saltwater fly-fishing on the other hand requires a lot of backing as it is not uncommon for a bone fish or other creature from the deep to rip off your fly line and go through 100 yards of backing in one run.
Step 3
Put the rest of the rod together and run the reel end of the fly line down to the reel through all the eyes (it is easy to miss an eye so go slow and pay attention). Pull some backing off the reel so you will have room to work and meet the fly line and backing in front of you. Tie the two together with an Albright knot. Keep in mind that you will be bending the fly line since it is bigger than the backing and then running the backing around the fly line to complete this knot. Trim the tag end of the backing close and either burn or hit it with a drop of Crazy Glue. Wind the fly line on the reel. Make sure that you go from side to side to stack it on the reel uniformly.
Step 4
Choose a leader for the fish you are going to be pursuing. It could either be a tapered leader (a one piece of mono that tapers from fat to skinny with the little end going to the tippet) or it could be a hand built leader consisting of several different thickness of mono, ranging from big too small. Both types can be purchased and are up to the fisherman's preference as to which type to use. Tie the big part of the leader to the big part of the fly line with a nail knot.
Step 5
Tie the tippet on, adjusting it to the size of the quarry. Of course some like to try and break records and will use tippets in the "weight class" of the record sought. For normal fishing purposes, a tippet will be about 3 feet long and will get shorter as the fishing trip goes on with line breakage, the changing of flies and other conditions. It is common for a fly fisherman to carry a roll of tippet material so that when the tippet gets too short it can be re tied or changed in the middle of the stream or on a hot flat fairly easily. The rod is now set up and ready for the fly of your choice.

Tips & Warnings

Before running the fly line through the guides, double it back about 3 inches, this way if you drop it the weight of the line will not pull it all the way back through all the guides to the ground.
If you burn the ends of your tag ends, be careful of the heat as if not done properly it will weaken the line.


Article Written By Dennis Seabright

Denny Seabright has been writing for since Nov. of 2008 with most articles being in the "How to" category. Graduating from James Wood High school in 1976 and going straight into the work force left little room for formal education but writing has always been dear to his heart.

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