How to Put Line on a Spinning Reel

Spinning Reel

Any new anglers looking to graduate from a casting reel may not know how to put line on a spinning reel. Here is what you need to know to avoid the many twists people get in their lines when trying to spool a spinning reel. Let’s assume that you already have your favorite spinning rod and spinning reel and all that is left is for you to learn how to spool fishing line. Putting line on a spinning reel is pretty straightforward but for you to avoid unnecessary aggravations when you are out fishing, you need to consider a few things.

Securing the Spool Line

For starters, you need to take the fishing line’s end tag on the spool and attach it to your reel. Experts have established that the most convenient way to secure fluorocarbon or monofilament line to a reel is by using an arbor knot. This kind of knot is half tied around the main line with another half knot at the end of the line. This knot goes on to act as a catch whenever you pull the line tightly. When it comes to attaching braided line, you are required to tie a number of knots after which you will tape that braid to the spool by using just a slice of electrical tape, or the tape that came with the line. Most braids have coatings on them, which is why you might have observed that the other knots or the arbor knots keep getting loose. Whenever you feel that the drag is slipping even if you are applying light pressure, if you are using braid on a reel, the problem is usually not the reel but in fact, how you attached the braid to the spool.

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Now, you may find that your spool has holes in it. You should actually pass the line via a hole so you can then back out another and proceed to tie a simple knot. Since not all spools are waffled, consider using a slice of electrical tape or learn the arbor knot.

Unspooling in the Reverse Direction of the Spool

Knowing how to put line on a spinning reel is fairly easy. For some anglers, however, they have mastered the art of spooling line on backwards. And then they see why the line kinks and backfires uncontrollably on them. Backfire and kinks are especially troublesome with monofilament and fluorocarbon lines. This is due to those lines having “memory” which makes the nylon retain some of its shape on the spool. Braided line, on the other hand, basically has no memory. But it’s good practice to apply the same processes for mono and fluoro line to braided. The key to remember is the direction the line is coming off the spool. You then reel it into the reel’s spool in the subsequent direction.

Envision a cassette tape, which works by one side unwinding then the other side winding it up. Both turn in the same direction but one side takes it from the top while the other comes off the top. Think of reel spools and filler spools working in a similar war. This is much easier with bait casters where the line spools from the top of the filler spool over the top of the reel spool.

Keeping Tension

Keep in mind when learning how to put line on a spinning reel, loose line on the reel is a major cause for tangles and knots during the use of your fishing reel. Applying adequate tension to the line as you spool it on your spinning reel helps ensure those knots and tangles will not plague your experience. The easiest way to keep tension is running the line off the spool and down the guides, through your fingers and onto the reel. As soon as you start reeling the line on, apply enough pressure between your fingers to allow the line to smoothly spool on the reel but with enough tension to keep the fishing line tight and twist-free. If you were to buy a spooling station, you will find that some of them have tension knobs. Fingers do the same only you should not pinch too hard as you could get a line burn.

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Avoiding Under Filling or Overfilling a Reel

Overfilling the reel’s spool is one of the common mistakes anglers often make when they are putting line on their reel. It is difficult to keep track of how much line you’ve added, but most spinning reels indicate approximately how much line a spool can carry. Additionally, a good rule of thumb is the width of line that’s spooled on the reel should never exceed the outer lip of the reels’ spool. You want to get as close to the outer edge of the spool without going over. Underfilling is not as compromising when it comes to tangles and knots, but it can severely hinder your fishing experience if you fight a large fish that peels line off the reel.


Fishing line backing isn’t always necessary, but helpful when using specialty line like leadcore or braided line. I don’t always use backing line when spooling my reel with braided line, but the point is that it creates a smoother, more secure connection to the spool. Since braided line is coated with a wax, the knots tend to slip when applied directly to the spool. Using a backing line will ensure a nice, snug spool. Backing line is typically a lighter monofilament line. Again, it’s absolutely not necessary, but it could be helpful in certain applications. For braided line, I typically apply a small piece of electrical tape on the end of the braid and reel the line in. This is always good enough for what I’m doing.

How to Put Line on a Spinning Reel

Spooling line on a spinning reel should not be an arduous task, but there are some important factors to consider when you do it. If going to your local bait shop or Bass Pro and having their experts do it for you is not an option, follow the above guidelines to help ensure a properly spooled reel to keep you fishing longer and harder! Tight lines!

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