How To Spool A Fly Reel -Step By Step Guide

Learning how to spool a fly reel is something that can be challenging to every angler the first time or two they do it, but once you get some practice you will realize it is not that challenging at all!

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In this article we will teach you how to spool a fly reel, and how to make sure that the amount of backing you use is the perfect amount every time!

No guessing and checking, and no wasted time spent going back to remove or add backing line.

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What You Need to Spool A Fly Reel

Lets start out by gathering the appropriate materials for our fly reel.

  1. Fly Reel of Choice
  2. Fly Fishing Line
  3. Backing
  4. Tape

Seems like a pretty basic materials group for this project and chances are if your reading this you already have it all.

Make sure before spooling your fly line you have purchased the appropriate line for the type of fishing you will be doing.

For example, if you want to fish dry flies, it would not make sense to have sinking fly line.

Next thing we will want to do is spool our fly fishing reel.

How to Put Line on A Fly Reel

Alright, once you have gathered your materials, the first thing you are going to want to do is take a piece of tape and attach the end of your fly line (the part you will attach the leader to) onto your reel.

Once you have done that, you are now going to reel all of the fly line up. You might think that this sounds backwards, but you will see why we reeled the line onto the reel the way we did in a moment.

Now that you have all of your fly line on your reel, you should still have some space left.

This is where the backing comes in. Tie a knot to attach the backing to the fly line. This is going to be the only thing that is keeping you connected to the fish if you get into a large fight and start running into your backing, so make sure that this knot is good and secure.

I like the Albright knot for this. If you have another knot that you like I would love to hear about it in the comments below this article.

Start reeling the backing up and keep reeling until you see that you are getting pretty close to the maximum capacity of the spool.

You don’t want to overfill the reel because if the line is on there a little looser at some point in the future it can catch or rub on the reel, which is something that we don’t want because it can harm the line.

You also don’t want to be too stingy with the backing and realize that you do not have enough during a fight with a big fish. Err on the side of slightly too little, as that will prevent you from compromising your reel’s performance out on the water.

Once you have all the backing that will fit on your reel, cut the rest of the backing off. You can save this for use in the future or throw it away. It will not be necessary for this project anymore.

At this point, what we need to do is get the line off of your reel, so we can put it on in the correct direction (the backing should be the first line going onto your spool and the last to come off as you are pulling line out).

One method you can do is to attach the end of the line to a tree or fence post, and then walk backwards, letting out line until the reel is empty. Once you do that, go to the end that has the backing, and attach that to your reel with a sturdy knot.

Should you be playing a fish that takes you deep into the backing, this knot will be your last connection between the line (and the fish) and you, so make sure it is a good knot. Then just start reeling all the line back up.

When you are finished reeling the line back up you should have the end of your fly line that you would attach your leader to hanging loose from the reel, ready to be strung up your favorite fly rod and cast to a hungry trout.

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Another method of reversing the line takes a little more equipment, but less effort, so it is up to you to decide if this is worth it.

What you are going to need is a handheld drill, and some sort of cylinder that can be attached to it. You will tape the end of the backing to this cylinder (think old line spool, with room for the fly line and the backing) and then turn on the drill, automatically unwinding all the line from your fly reel and onto the spool to keep it easy to manage.

Now take that spool out from your drill and put in another empty one.

Do the same process again, winding the line onto the spool attached to the drill and off of the spool that we just used before. This will get the line so that the end of the backing is loose and will allow you to attach the backing to the fly reel.

At this point what you can do is just reel up the line once you’ve attached the backing to the reel.  

One thing you do not want to do is just strip all the line off your reel into a pile on the floor and expect to wind it back up starting from the other end.

It will almost certainly get itself into a knot during the process, and ultimately will just be a frustrating experience. Fly line backing almost always works itself into very small knots that seem to take an hour to untangle.

It is worth spending a little extra time and effort to make sure that everything goes right and that the line is organized cleanly.

Spooling A Fly Reel Final Thoughts

how to spool a fly reel

Well, if you made it to the end of this article then you should how to spool a fly reel with the perfect amount of backing.

The only other steps are grabbing your rod, heading out to a stream or river, and giving it a few test casts! If you found this article to be helpful, feel free to leave a comment below.

Or if you did not, give us a shout and tell us where we lost you and we will help get you back on track.

Until next time- good luck.