How to Put Line on a Fishing Reel

How to Put Line on a Fishing Reel
Putting line on your fishing reel should be easy, and it is. Done incorrectly, though, your line will twist into knots, wasting your time, testing your patience and ruining your line. When using braided line, preparation is even more important. Today's braided lines are expensive, and an impossibly tangled spool costs as much as a steak dinner. Let's load up the reel right and enjoy our steak.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Electrical tape Screwdriver Reel Line Nail clipper
  • Electrical tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Reel
  • Line
  • Nail clipper
Step 1
Put a screwdriver through the center holes of the line spool. Have a helper hold the two ends of the screwdriver with the line spool on it, or hold it yourself between your feet. Holding it yourself is tricky, but you will quickly get the hang of it.
Step 2
Pass the line through the guide closest to the reel, and tie the line to your reel spool. If you are putting braided line on your reel, begin by wrapping a small piece of electrical tape around the line spool. If you neglect to start with some type of backing like electrical tape, the entire spool of line may rotate freely around the metal reel spool after installation. The tape provides a soft material for the braided line to dig into. The tape provides a bed for your line and prevents it from spinning.
Step 3
If you are putting line on a spinning reel, simply crank it on by turning the reel handle. The rotor will lay the line evenly on the spool. Fill the spool with line stopping between one eighth and one quarter inch from the edge of the spool. As you load the reel, keep steady pressure on the line so it does not form any loops. The pressure you apply will also increase the amount of line you fit on to your fishing reel.
Step 4
If you are putting line on a conventional or casting reel that does not have a level wind, you will have to lay the line evenly on the reel. Hold the line between your thumb and the first finger of your left hand while you turn the reel handle with your right hand. As you wind the line onto your conventional reel, gradually move the line across the spool from side to side. Spread the line across the reel spool evenly. If you allow it to build up in one spot the line will jam against the reel frame, preventing it from turning.

Tips & Warnings

Using the lightest line possible increases the amount of line you can fit on your reel. For most purposes, 10- to 15-pound test line is adequate.
Wear shoes if you are holding the line spool between your feet. If you are barefoot when you try to hold the line spool, you will hurt your foot.

Article Written By Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne is a freelance writer with published articles in "Nor'East Saltwater," "Sportfishing" magazine, "Pacific Coast Sportfishing" and "Salt Water Sportsman." As a fishing charter captain, he was also interviewed for a feature in "Field and Stream." Byrne studied environmental science at the State University of New York at Delhi.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.