How to Spool a Baitcaster: An Easy Three-Step Method

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As line is your all-important connection to the fish, it is important to put it on your fishing line correctly.

In this article, we will explain the correct way to spool a baitcaster with the fishing line of your choice.

Baitcasting reels are relatively easy to spool without line twist or other problems you sometimes seen when putting line on a spinning reel.

Spooling a Baitcaster with Mono, Fluoro or Braided Line

Step 1: Tie on some monofilament backing

Spool of green mono line with palomar knot illustration

This is an important step to provide some cushioning if you are fishing with braid and prevent slippage on the spool of your fishing reel.
To do this we need to pass the line through the line guide of the baitcaster reel and then wrap it around the spool of the baitcaster. You can use a pair of fly fishing forceps or something similar if you are having trouble manipulating the line around the spool.
Then we need to tie an Arbor Knot, incorporating a simple overhand knot, to anchor the monofilament line to the spool.

Step 2: Lay down some mono line on the reel spool as a cushion

Depending on the size of the baitcasting reel and the type of fish you are choosing, begin reeling and lay down enough mono line to provide a cushion (if using braid). Many anglers lay down 50 yards or so of line on a typical baitcasting reel.
You should get someone to hold the spool of line and apply a bit of tension on the line as you wind the baitcasting reel and the coils of mono fishing line will sit flush on the spool as intended.
We lay down this mono layer on the baitcaster spool for two reasons – to provide cushioning and stop the line slipping (as braid will do if you tie on to the spool direct) and to save money as you don’t necessarily need to use large amounts of braid and mono is easily the cheapest type of fishing line.

Step 3: Tie on your braid to the mono

Now you can attach the main braided line to the mono backing line using either the Double Uni Knot (easier and quicker) or the FG Knot (harder but stronger) and wind on enough braid to your baitcaster reel for your specific fishing situation or needs – usually at least 100 yards and more if tackling fish that can make long and powerful runs.
(Obviously skip this step if you are using straight mono instead of spooling braided line – then you can fill the baitcasting reel spool with the mono fishing line instead of using it just as backing line.)
Attach your mono or fluorocarbon line as a leader to the braided line and you are ready to fish!

How to put fishing line on a baitcasting reel: Video Instructions

FAQs

How much line to put on my baitcasting reel?

That depends on a few things. Firstly, how big is your baitcaster reel? Ultralight baitcasters might only need to be spooled with 150 yards or so, whereas a larger reel suitable for offshore use might need 10 times this amount.

The other way to think about this is to consider the fish you are pursuing? Bass tend to make powerful but short runs. Same with trout.

But saltwater fish such as striped bass – and larger freshwater predators such as musky – are capable of powerful surges and deep runs and you want to make sure you have sufficient line to let them run against the reel’s drag to help you win the fight without losing the fish.

Can braid be tied directly to the baitcaster reel spool?

We don’t recommend this. For starters it is hard to run the relatively limp braided line around the spool. And it means you have no cushioning on the spool making it hard for it grip when you start winding. As you continuing spooling, the spool will simply spin without gripping and winding on to the spool. That’s why we recommend laying down the monofilament line as backing. The other alternative is to use some plastic duct tape as backing, but that’s hard to put in position and not as good as using monofilament backing.

Why do I need to apply tension to the backing line as I put it on?

You should keep tension on the line (get your assistant to stick a pencil through the filler spool of line and apply tension to either side with your thumbs) from when you start reeling to make sure the coils of line sit flush. The line guide will lay them down snug next to each other on the reel’s spool, provided you keep the tension on as you feed the line out of the filler spool.

Author

  • Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He is a regular on fly fishing podcasts and appeared in the international fly fishing film Predator.

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