How to Put Line on a Spinning Reel

Mark Johnson
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A Note About Line Selection

Good spinning reels come with about 20-30 yards of backing with leader already attached. While it’s always possible to add more line, the right amount of line is crucial. Making sure you have enough line on your reel also extends the life of the line. Keeping your fishing line out of the water also conserves the natural oils in whatever kind of fishing line you use.

You can find out how much line is on your reel by looking on the side of reel case. The letter “W” is the fly line weight. So a W8 would translate as an eight weight fly line. Often, the reel comes with a few yards of backing before the 20-30 yards of fly line. When you take the line off the reel, make sure to stack the line on top of the backing sticks next to the reel.

Fish a balanced load and lay your backing on the reel in such a way that a little of it sticks out to each side. In other words, the backing is centered and covers the whole reel with no more than a half inch of the case showing below the backing. This scheme will not only help balance your casting distance but also give you a right to left pulling force.

When you push the spool of your reel, the left hand side will move in the direction of your hand. This balanced pull is essential for smooth casts and reliable retrieves.

How to Spool a Spinning Reel

The first thing you should do is to get your fly line spooled onto your reel. Once you have the fly line attached to your reel, you can add backing to your lines.

You can use light yarn as backing for your lines. This is a very cheap and easy-to-get option that works very well.

You can also use any kind of monofilament as backup as long as it is at least as thick as your fly line. You might want to consider breaking in a synthetic backing before you use it on your fly lines. If you can, always use the correct line.

For 10-weight lines, you should use 9-pound test nylon as a backing.

For 11-weight lines, you should use 8-pound test nylon as a backing.

For 12-weight lines, you should use 7-pound test nylon as a backup.

For 13-weight lines, you should use 6-pound test nylon as a backup.

For 14-weight lines, you should use 5-pound test nylon as a backup.

For 15-weight lines, you should use 4-pound test nylon as a backup.

For 16-weight lines, you should use 3-pound test nylon as a backup.

Step 1: Attach the Reel to the Rod

Attach the spinning reel to your rod. This is what the reels and the poles are designed to attach to. If you have a spinning reel, slide the O-ring over your rod’s guides, and then fit the rod through the center of the reel.

For this purpose, the same principle applies as when you attach a fishing rod to spinning reel. The handle usually needs to swivel to get the O-ring over the guides.

Turn the handle toward the front to loosen it so you can remove the handle. Then, turn it the opposite direction to tighten it down.

The handle should slide smoothly along your rod and fit snugly.

Step 2: Run the Line Through the First Guide

Next, you’ll need to get the fishing line from your reel to the rod. This is accomplished using the spool. Pull the fishing line from your reel and run it down the front of the spool. You’ll do this by holding the spool and rotating it counterclockwise about three inches. Next, put the fishing line through the first guide.

Step 3: Open the Bail

When you first open the bail, you can have the bail pivot freely, in line with the spool, or otherwise. In either case, you'll be able to open the bail normally. What's important here is to make sure that the line being released is not too tight. You generally set the bail to a closing motion that is just tight enough to lock the bail in place.

Step 4: Attach the Line to the Reel Spool

Spin the handle after you apply pressure on the thumb nut (driver) to take up the slack between rod and reel. As you “take up the slack” you will see regular (non-fluorescent) monofilament turning on the spool. Spin the handle a few times after the slackness disappears to make sure this regular monofilament is wound on the spool.

Step 5: Slowly Start Winding Line onto the Reel

When you start winding line on the reel, start slowly. Make sure you are leaving no twists in the line because they will cause problems once you have the line on the reel. Some people say it’s better to pull the line off the spool while you are marking it. You pull the tag end off slowly, and you wind the line on the reel slowly.

This may help with the twisting problem, but I’ve had problems both ways. I’ve had a reel ”explode” when I didn’t pull the line off, and I’ve had problems when I did pull the line off. It may be that winding the line off a reel that uses a drifter is different than how you wind line on a spinning reel. I’m not sure.

I believe the key is to pay special attention to the twist in the line. If you have a problem with twisting, it may be related to the line and you should spend more time learning the techniques to get line on the reel without twists.

Step 6: Watch Your Spool Orientation

When you re-attach the line to the spool, don’t just wind it in as usual. Pay attention to the orientation. Reel-spool line often has a little arrow on it that a) points in the direction the spool and b) shows up in the window on the side of the spool when you attach the line.

Following these little arrows ensures that, when the line is wound tightly on the spool, it’s tight in the right direction.

Step 7: Crank Until the Reel Spool is Full

Once you have loaded the bow with the desired number of turns on the spool, and the line is on the reel and secured, then place the spool back into the reel.

If you’re using a bait caster reel, you should do this by turning the handle and spool both in the same clockwise direction at the same time.

If you’re using a spinning reel, turn the spool and handle in the same clockwise direction at the same time but only a few times in the beginning.

This will help prevent the line from becoming exposed to a lot of friction until you’ve reached the end.

Spooling Up Is Easy!

The advantages of using a spinning reel are many, and also you are able to use a wide variety of different line types on those reels than on a bait caster reel.

Sometimes, trying to figure out how to spool line on a spinning reel can be daunting. Different reels have different spool size differences and tackle. The following directions are for the Shimano Curado K Series Reel. Any reel similar to this one will use the same spool size and which side to re-spool the line on.

Take the spool off the side of the base, and place it on your lap. Put a baitholder hook on the end of the line. Thread the line through the hole in the center of the spool barrel, and gently push and twist the spool on your index finger. Now you’re ready to load up your spinning reel. Double check that the line is in the right place. Place the spool on one of the two spool pegs. For the left peg, make sure that the line is threaded on the spinning side of the base. If the spool is on the right spool peg, shoot the line on the other way around. Insert the hook end of the line into the eye of the rod.