How Much Line to Put on a Spinning Reel: Expert Guide

Learn how to work out how much line to put on your spinning reel and how to recognize when you have too much line or too little on your reel

This article will tell you how to work out how much line to put on your spinning reel to maximize casting distance and accuracy.

Spooling your fishing reel with the correct amount of line will help you fish better and catch more fish.

We’ve got all the answers for you below.

Why Is the Amount of Line You Put on a Reel Important?

It’s really important to spool a fishing line so there is sufficient line to cast effectively and also to allow fish to run without taking all the line from the spool.

Usually, it is the first consideration we want to worry about though – get that right and you’ll usually have enough in reserve to stop every fish you’ll come across.

The general rule is to spool the line so that there is a gap of about 1/8th of an inch between the packed line on the spool and the lip of the spool (see diagram).

Any more than this and you risk having a fishing reel where it is difficult to control the line and it often becomes tangled.

Any less than this and you start to lose casting distance and accuracy as the line faces resistance as it is pulled off the spool by the weight of the lure in flight when you are casting.

How Much Line to Put on a Spinning Reel: Full Chart

which spinning reels are made in the USA image 1
The amount of fishing line you should put on a spinning reel depends on several factors, including the size of the reel, the type and weight of the fishing line, and the type of fishing you’ll be doing.

Mono or Fluoro Fishing Line Capacities for Different Size Reels

Here are some typical line capacities for spinning reels of different sizes to give you an idea of how much fishing line to put on your fishing reel.

Breaking Strain line1000 (or 10) size reel2500 (or 25) size reel3000 (or 40) size reel4000 (or 40) size reel5000 (or 50) size reel
4lb160NANANANA
6lb110170230NANA
8lbNA140170NANA
10lbNA120140200NA
12lbNANANA160195
15lbNANANANA165
Based on Shimano Stradic FL spinning reel line capacities

Braided Fishing Line Capacities for Different Size Reels

Here are some suggested braid capacities for various sizes of spinning reel. Note with these capacities, for lower diameter (and strength) lines you can extrapolate it out and use more line.

For example, a fishing reel in size 1000 takes 95 yards of 10lb braid, but if you are spooling with a 4lb braid it will take twice as much.

Often with braided line the problem you face is not having enough line spooled on the fishing reel. Even if you put a 200 yard spool on, sometimes you won’t be anywhere near the recommended 1/8th of an inch. 

We get around this by packing the spool with mono line first. So for an ultralight fishing reel you might spool 70 yards of 6lb mono and then run with your 150 yards of 6lb braid.

We recommend if you are using braided fishing line to add a bit of mono first even if you don’t need it as a filler line to pack out the spool. The mono just grips the spool better and provides a bit of squish so the braided line packs down nicely. It’s better than using electrical tape to pack the spool, which some people do.

Use the Arbor Knot to connect the mono to the spool and then the Double Uni Knot or the FG Knot to join the braid to the mono base (and to add a mono or fluoro leader).

Breaking Strain line1000 (or 10) size reel2500 (or 25) size reel3000 (or 40) size reel4000 (or 40) size reel5000 (or 50) size reel
10lb95150200NANA
15lb75145170230NA
20lb65100140180260
30lbNANA110170235
50lbNANANA120170
Based on Shimano Stradic FL spinning reel line capacities

Common Problems When Adding Line to a Spinning Reel

Spinning reels bokeh excellent braid spooled
Putting the correct amount of line on a reel helps avoid problems

Here are some examples of problems people encounter when deciding on the amount of line to spool on to their spinning reel and how to either solve or avoid them

Too Much Line on Your Spinning Reel

It’s common for beginners to add too much line to a spinning reel. Filling the reel to the edge of the reel spool is a common error. As mentioned, fill the spool so there is that 1/8th of an inch (3mm) gap between the packed line on the reel and the lip of the spool.

Adding too much line leads to the line flying off the reel spool at inopportune times and lost fishing time while you fix tangles in your fishing line.

Too Little Line on Your Fishing Reel

A underfilled spooled spinning reel
A underfilled spooled spinning reel: the gap between the lip of the spool and the line is too great

An underfilled spool not only leaves with fewer options when a big fish takes a long run pulling line off your reel. You run the risk of running out of line and having to put the brakes on and risking losing the fish of a lifetime.

But perhaps more important is that having a spool that’s not packed out to within 1/8th of an inch of the edge of the spool means that you lose energy in the cast. That means you can’t cast as far and you need to use more force with your arm, reducing casting accuracy.

This is particularly important in ultralight fishing where you are using really light lures that are difficult to cast on a reel that’s not properly spooled.

Underfilling the spool leaves you with a reel that’s no fun to cast and has poor casting distance as well as being undergunned when it comes to subduing a big fish in open water.

Spooling Your Reel at an Incorrect Tension

When you are spooling a reel you need to make sure that you apply tension to the purchased spool of line as you wind it on, otherwise the line goes on too loose and the spool doesn’t pack down properly

This leads to a spinning reel that looks like it has enough line on it, but it actually just poorly packed and when the line is reeled back under tension – say when fishing a lure – you’ll actually discover that there is too little line on it.

To achieve the correct tension either use a proper fishing line spooler or have someone hold the spool of line you bought with a pen through the middle of it as an axle. They should use their thumbs to press the spool to apply a breaking force. This means you’ll win it on under tension.

Don’t go too far with this – it’s not great to wind it on against enormous tension as it will be too tightly packed.

How Much Line to Put On Different Brands of Spinning Reel

Daiwa BG Reel close up spinning reel
While most spinning reels of the same size can hold similar amounts of fishing line, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended line capacity for each model of spinning reel while also applying the 1/8th of an inch test to ensure proper spooling.

Most spinning reels of a given size can hold similar amounts of fishing line even if they are different brands.

A Daiwa 2500 reel will hold roughly the same as a Shimano 2500 reel and so on.

But if you want to be precise almost every reel manufacturer will have a recommended line capacity for each model of spinning reel that it produces.

But be careful to apply the 1/8th of an inch test. Not all lines of a given rating are made equally – some are thicker and some are thinner. So purely going by the manufacturer’s recommendation without applying this test can leave you with an incorrectly spooled fishing reel.

How Much Line Do I Put on a Size 2500 Spinning Reel?

A correctly spooled spinning reel
A correctly spooled spinning reel

Size 2500 and 3000 (20 or 30) are really popular sizes for spinning reels, so we’ve added a bit more info on how much line these can take.

A 2500 size reel is really versatile you can use it for panfish but also trout, smallmouth bass perch, and other species.

If you are running straight mono or fluorocarbon line, you can put 170 yards of 6lb line on your size 2500 reel or 110 yards of 10lb line.

When it comes to braided fishing lines, you can put 150 yards of 10lb or 110 of 20lb, and significantly more of smaller breaking strain.

How Much Line Do I Put on a Size 3000 Spinning Reel?

A size 3000 spinning reel is a good choice for bass fishing or chasing walleye or other species.

If you are running a straight monofilament fishing line or fluorocarbon line you can put 240 yards of 6lb line or 170 yards of 10lb line.

If you are running a braided line, you can put 200 yards of 10lb braid on the reel or 140 yards of 20lb line (and much more of lower strength braid). See the chart above for recommended capacities in other size lines.

These recommendations come from Shimano’s specs for its Stradic FL spinning reel, but as I mentioned most other brand reels will have similar numbers in terms of how much fishing line to put on the reel.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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