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How to Rig a Fly Rod

January 8, 2019 By: Marshall Cutchin

Producer: RIO Products

“I’m Zach Dalton and today I’m going to show you how to rig a fly rod. If you’ve just purchased a new setup and you’re unclear on how to put this together, I’m going to show you a few simple tips to make sure you do it successfully.

First we want to identify what rod size that we’ve purchased, match the fly line, and match the reel. You’ll notice that your rods going to have the size identification just above the cork handle. Secondly we want to make sure that we match the fly line size to match the rod size. And thirdly we want to make sure that the reel is balanced and also the right size for the fly rod. Now that we’ve determined that we’ve got a balanced set up we need to decide which direction we retrieve. 99.9% of all reels come out of the box left-hand retrieve. If we need to change it you might see that in another episode, but this is what a left-hand retrieve reel looks like, if the line’s coming off the bottom with the line guard and we’ll retrieve with your left hand. It’ll be just the opposite with the right hand retrieve reel with the line coming off the bottom of the line guard and the handle on the right hand side, this means that it’s a right-hand retrieve reel.

Next I want to talk about the importance of backing. This reel has about 75 or 100 yards of backing on it. Backing serves two purposes: one, it fills the reel up a little bit so you don’t have tiny coils of fly line; and two, if you have a long-running fish that’s longer than the length of your fly line you’ve got an insurance mechanism built into your reel. Now that we understand our backing we’re finally ready to load our fly line onto our reel. A majority of lines have welded loops at both the front and back end for easy rigging. We need to identify the loop at the back end so we can connect the fly line properly. We’ve got a little sticker that says attach this into backing—that’s the that’s the end that we want to connect via a knot or a loop-to-loop connection. I prefer a loop-to-loop connection and that’s what I’m going to use here. I’m going to set up a little rigging station here….  A Bic pen  was designed to fit perfectly through a fly line spool hole—I’ll balance it up there nicely. The fly line has twisties at either end to make sure that the fly line coil doesn’t fall apart. I’ll carefully untie these, fold them over the edges and now I’m ready to tie a surgeon’s loop in the backing so I can do a loop-to-loop connection.

I want to do a surgeon’s loop about the size of my fist or about the size of the reel. Simply double over your loop. Do a couple overhand knots together—two or three is perfect—and tighten it together. I’ve got a nice big loop that’ll fit over my reel, and I’ll show you in a second. I’m gonna take the scissors, trim my tag end, find my loop with the Attach This Line to Backing sticker, pull the sticker off, then take my backing, thread it through the hole of the loop, pass my reel through the backing loop and draw it tight together to create a square knot connection.

There’s definitely a right and a wrong way to load a fly line onto the reel. You want it to be direct to direct. That means that the fly line coming off of the fly line spool goes on the reel the exact same direction. So I’m gonna hold this close to my chest and start to retrieve it. I want to go back and forth so I don’t stack line on one side of the reel or the other. I want it to load very nice and even on the reel, and I can start to fill the diameter of the fly line increase as I get to the belly or the weighted part of the fly line. Almost there. One last thing I want to do is make sure that I get the little line ID sticker that’s on the spool and to fix that to the reel.

Now that I’ve got the sticker affixed to my reel I’ve only got a couple more steps before we’re ready to put the rod together. Next up I want to attach a leader to the fly line. I’ve got a Powerflex Plus trout leader here and a 9-foot 5 X size.  This is gonna be perfect for some smaller dry fly fishing. This is gonna be a loop-to-loop connection as well. You want to be careful on coiling your leader. We got about four main coils to wrap around the body of the leader. So I’ll undo those nice and carefully. Then I’m gonna put the leader over my fingers and pull it off nice and slow just like that, and the leader’s gonna have a little bit of memory. I’ll give it a just a simple tug down on the small tip it section. Give it a little bit greater tug on the taper section here, and on the butt section I want that to be nice and straight, so I’ll give it a good strong pull to stretch out all the memory. Next I’ll find the loop to my fly line and I’ll pass the loop of my fly line inside the loop of my leader. I’ll strip this back till I get to the tip section of my leader, then pass that right through the hole in my fly line loop, and I’ll pull that through nice and smooth. Slide the loop over, snug it down nice and tight, and then I’ve just connected my loop-to-loop connection from my fly line to my leader….”