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Fly Lines: Spooling, Leader Connections, and Fused Loops

by Philip Monahan

Have a question you want answered? Email it to us at ask@midcurrent.com.

We’ve received several specific questions about fly lines, so I called Bruce Richards at Scientific Anglers to get some expert opinions.

Question: When spooling a new fly line onto a reel using my “made for line winding and removing” fixture, the fly line always underwraps and tangles in the plastic storage spool, causing a halt to any further progress and the need to start untangling a ball of line. Is there a special technique for spooling the line on the reel without tangles?

Spiderman’s Victim, via email

Fly Line Spools

Glenn Pittard photo

Answer: Underwrapping is caused by creating too much tension on the spool as you try to get the line off it. Instead of the spool turning to release the line, the line just digs into the wraps below it. So you need to figure out a way to allow the spool to turn more freely on your system.

Bruce Richards offers three solutions for this problem. What most people do, he says, is put a pencil through the hole in the center of the storage spool and then hold the pencil crosswise between their knees. This allows the spool to turn freely while you’re putting the line onto your reel. In this situation, though, you have to keep the spool from spinning too fast, or you end up with an overspooled rat’s nest.

“The easiest thing to do is strip all the line off the storage spool and onto the floor,” he says. “Then just reel the line onto your reel off the floor.”

Of course, as you strip the line off the spool, you want to lay it on the floor so that it won’t tangle when you reel it up. Finally, Richards says he recently saw a new technique on display at a fly shop. “They had a large salad bowl and simply threw the spool in there after attaching the line to the reel. As they reeled up the line, the spool bounced around inside the bowl, but didn’t fly out and didn’t tangle.”

Question: What is the best loop knot to use to connect a leader to a loop on the fly line?

Butch Leone, Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Answer: Because the knot that connects to the leader to the fly line is usually made from very strong, thick material (the butt end of a tapered leader, for instance), you should worry more about a knot’s size than its breaking strength, says Richards. “You’re tying in such heavy stuff, even a fifty-percent knot is fine,” he argues. For everything except offshore big-game fishing, Richards suggests a perfection loop because it’s so small and neat. Big-game anglers should use a double surgeon’s loop for extra security.

Question: Why don’t companies provide fused loops at both ends of a sinking line or sink tip line for example? Usually there is a loop on one end but not the other.

via email

Answer: “There’s a very simple answer for that one,” says Richards. “Cost. Those loops don’t just automatically happen. Although the loops are made by a machine, someone needs to run and maintain that machine. Doubling the number of loops on a line doubles the cost of that feature.” However, he notes, the technology is changing, and consumers can expect to see double-looped lines later this year.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing
 
Phil Monahan is a former Alaskan guide and was the long-time editor of American Angler magazine. He's now a columnist for MidCurrent and writes and edits the fly-fishing blog at OrvisNews.com.
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