Any angler novice or experienced knows the benefits of having a spinning reel. These popular types of fishing reels are used by all level anglers as they are versatile, easy to master, and is the best option for finesse fishing.
Spinning reels have come a long way that you can get your hands on a quality reel for less than $100 or even $50.
However, your spinning reel will do you no good if the fishing line isn't spooled correctly. Knowing how to put line on a spinning reel from the start can help you prevent issues like line twists, birds nest, and other line management issues.
Spooling a spinning reel is not a difficult task once you know the basics. In this guide, we’ll learn how to spool a spinning reel with braid and mono yourself at home for a trouble-free upcoming fishing adventure.
But before that, let's take a look at the types of fishing lines that are the best for spinning reels (aka open face reel).
Before we learn the correct way to spool a spinning reel, we need to know the type of line that works best with this type of fishing reel. There are three types of fishing lines used by anglers today: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid.
Let's briefly look at each line type and talk about the pros and cons of each.
This is the most popular fishing line type that has been around for decades. It's made of single-stranded plastic, usually, nylon and is known as the jack of all trades.
As mono is made of plastic material, it tends to float on the water. This makes it an ideal choice for topwater fishing, fishing with a bobber, and floating lures. The buoyant nature of the line is also a drawback as it cannot be paired with bottom baits.
Mono stretches more than any other type of fishing line. This is both a benefit and a downside. The stretch acts as a shock absorber eliminating any chance of break-offs from sudden shocks from fishing larger species. On the flip side, this makes the line less sensitive, lowering the chances of instant hookset which is a big minus for beginners.
The line memory in monofilament is less when compared to fluorocarbon. The line doesn't last very long and is the weakest type of line. Finally, monofilament is the most affordable type of fishing line.
I personally like the RUNCL PowerMono Fishing Line as it is a high-quality monofilament that comes with a wide test range from 4-35 lbs with 6 different colors.
Like mono, fluorocarbon is a single-stranded nylon line that is made from much denser material. It has been around for decades and has evolved to be a better line since its introduction.
The main advantage of fluorocarbon is that it is virtually invisible, making it ideal for catching fish in clear water. When it comes to strength, fluoro is stronger and less elastic compared to mono.
The line sinks easily, making it ideal for bottom fishing. It is more abrasion resistant allowing you to fish in places with rocks and fallen trees. Its abrasion-resistant nature makes it a perfect leader for braid.
Moreover, fluorocarbon is more expensive compared to mono but lasts longer.
If you're looking for a high-quality fluorocarbon line, then KastKing FluoroKote is my choice as it comes with a broad test range from 4-30 lbs to choose from.
Braid is entirely different from the other two types of fishing line we discussed. The line is made by weaving several strands of synthetic material to produce a super thin line ready to stop a bull.
The #1 advantage of braid is that it has ZERO stretches making it highly sensitive. Beginners can feel the lightest nibble even during deep water fishing. The zero stretches can also be a downside as it can break the rod or line if you overplay a hard fighting fish without the right drag settings.
Braid has no memory thus you don't have to go through the hustle of removing line memory while spooling braid.
Braided line is highly-visible making it tough to get bites in clear water, thus anglers use a fluorocarbon leader to hook line shy fish. The line is also very slippery making it difficult to tie directly on a spinning reel spool.
This is the most expensive type of fishing line but will last many seasons and is the go-to line type for bigger species.
I personally like the Power Pro Spectra Fiber as it is a high-quality braid that comes with a wide test range from 3-250 lbs.
By now you should have a good idea about the three most popular types of fishing line. You can choose any line to spool a spinning reel, but if you choose to spool braid, you’ll need to back the spool with mono and tie a fluorocarbon leader.
How much line to put on a spinning reel?
Once you have finalized the type of fishing line for your spinning reel, it's time to find out the size and length of line you need to spool for your reel.
Generally, the diameter of a fishing line increases along with its strength. That means, the higher the strength, the less line on the spool and vice versa.
However, braided lines are much thinner in diameter when compared to monofilament. That means you can spool more of a high test braid compared to the same test mono.
For example, the image above shows the spool can hold 45 pounds of 180 yards braid on this spool. Whereas, the same spool can only hold 10 pounds of 240 yards monofilament.
Today, almost 99% of the spinning reels come with the recommended line capacity printed on the spool for both braid and mono. This is a general indication that simply tells you the limit of the reel at which it can perform comfortably.
Apart from what your spinning reel recommends, you can ask yourself a few questions to laser target the strength and length of your fishing line you need for your specific situation.
- The size of the fish you’re after
- The water visibility (murky or clear water)
- Freshwater or saltwater
- The fishing techniques you use
However, if you’re a complete beginner and unsure about the answers to the questions above then just go with a 10-20 lbs test braid. This will be enough to get most of your fishing done.
Never overfill or underfill your spinning reel, as this will help form wind knots and other casting complications. A good rule of thumb is to spool until you have reached about one-eighth of an inch from the lip of the spool.The Power Pro Spectra Fiber is a high-quality braid and comes with a wide test range from 3-250 lbs.
By now you have selected your desired fishing line type and know what size and length of line your spinning reel will hold. It's time to string your spinning reel with your new fishing line.
But before that, there are a few pieces of equipment you need to make the spooling process smooth and trouble-free.
Things you need:
- Spinning rod
- Spinning reel
- Monofilament line
- Braided line
- Line conditioner
- A line clipper or a scissor
- A handkerchief or towel
Once you have everything ready, you can now begin the spooling process.
How to put monofilament line on a spinning reel?
ou have selected a fishing line type, found out your reels line capacity, and have the necessary equipment ready. Now it's time to start spooling your spinning reel.
Before learning how to spool a spinning reel with braid, it's important to know how to spool monofilament. The braided line is slippery, and you need to spool mono on the spool as a backing before you can spool braid.
The procedure will remain the same for both mono or fluoro if you want to use one of them as your mainline.
By default, both monofilament and fluorocarbon have line memory. Nylon lines develop curls from sitting on the filler and reel spool for an extended period. This results in line curls that are responsible for reduced casting distance and tangles.
The wheel that the line sits on has a larger diameter than your spinning reel. Thus, when you spool the line on your reel without retraining the line memory, the line springs off the spool creating a jumbled mess.
To prevent this, I like to soak my nylon lines in moderate hot for a few hours before spooling it on my reel. This helps relax the material and reduces line memory.
Keep in mind: Never soak your line in boiling water, as the high temperature will destroy your line.
Once the line memory is taken care of, it’s time to begin the spooling process.
To begin with, set up your spinning rod and reel correctly. With the bail arm in the open position, feed the mono through the first guide closest to the reel. Tie the line on the spool with an arbor knot or any other knot you’re comfortable with.
Arbor Knot: with the bail in the open position, pass your fishing line around the arbor. With the tag end of the line, tie two overhand knots around the standing part of the line.
Now, tie a third overhand knot on the tag end to act as a stopper. Now pull the mainline to tighten the grip around the arbor and trim off any extra bit from the tag end.
At this point, make a note of the direction your reel's rotor is spinning and from which the line is peeling off the filler spool. If your rotor spins in the clockwise direction, the line from your wheel should come off in a counter-clockwise direction.
This is a critical step in reducing line twist and other line related issues and should be taken care of from the very beginning.
With the line securely tied to the spool and the line is coming off in the right direction. Close the bail arm, and with your left arm, hold the line near the first guide to add tension during the spooling process. You can pinch the line between your fingers, but it can cause your fingers to burn due to heat from friction.
For that matter, I like to use a clean wet handkerchief or a towel. The moisture from the cloth keeps the like cool and removes any powder residue that got on during the manufacturing process. However, keep in mind to use a clean cloth, as dirty cloth may damage your line.
As you’re reeling the line, keep an eye on both the filler and reel spool to check for abnormalities.BONUS TIP: I like to spray line conditioners after every 15-20 turns of the handle. The line conditioner lubricates the line on the spool, which reduces friction increasing casting distance.
The Kevin VanDam's Line And Lure Conditioner is what I recommend.
Continue to put line on the reel until you have reached about one-eighth of an inch from the edge of the spool. Don't overfill or underfill your spool as it will only create problems.
Once you reach the perfect spool capacity, cut the line, feed it through the remaining rod guides, and you’re ready to hit the water.
If you have followed along, you should have a spinning reel that is correctly spooled with mono or fluoro without any line twist or memory.
Now, it's time to learn how to spool a spinning reel braided line.
How to spool a spinning reel with braid?
Beginner anglers often have a question when talking about braid and spinning reel, i.e. can you use braided line on a spinning reel?
Yes, braided fishing line can be used on a spinning reel, and it is my go-to fishing line type. A good quality braid has a lot of benefits over mono and fluoro. They last long, are strong, and most importantly, reliable.
However, spooling braid on a spinning reel is a bit different than spooling mono. Braid is slippery and cannot be tied directly on the arbor of a spinning reel unless you have a braid ready spool.
But how do I know if my spool is braid ready?
Well, the manufacturer will clearly state if the spool is braid ready or not. If you own an old reel, check the spool arbor for a rubber gasket (check the image above).
If your spool is braid ready, tie the braided line directly on the spool, else you need to back your spool with mono before spooling the braid.
Before you put your backing, check the filler spool of your braid to check how much line it contains. Then check to see what is the max line capacity of your spool.
Let's say, you bought a brand new spool of braid that has about 150 yards of line and your spinning reel spool can hold about 250 yards. In such a case, you need to spool about 100 yards of backing before spooling the braid to reach the recommended capacity.
The process of putting a backing on a spinning reel is the same as we discussed in the section on spooling a spinning reel with monofilament.
Keep in mind: Braid doesn't have line memory, so you don't have to soak the line in hot water before spooling it.
Keep an eye to check if you have put in enough backing. I don't use any machine to calculate how much line is spooled. Just take a rough estimation with your eye.
Once you have reached your desired backing capacity, tie your mono to braid with a line to line knot line the Albright Knot.
Once the knot is secured, trim the tag ends so that no tag end is peeking out, as this can get stuck in the rod guides.
Now, apply tension with a clean wet towel and reel in the line until you’re one-eighth of an inch from the spool lip. Cut the braided line and tie a fluorocarbon leader with an Albright Knot.
Make sure that the leader knot doesn't reach the spool else you might have difficulties during casting. Every angler has a personal preference when it comes to the length of the leader. However, I like to use anywhere between 13” to 26” of the leader.
With that, you should have a spinning reel that is perfectly spooled with braid and doesn't have any line twist.
Spooling a spinning reel yourself is the first skill any angler should learn. Putting line on your reel improperly can have detrimental effects to turn a good day of fishing bad.
If you’ve followed through our guide about how to spool a spinning reel, you don't have to worry about line twist, memory, wind knots, or any other line related issue ever again.