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How to Set Up a Fly Reel with Backing and Line

Producer: Tim Flagler  |  Tightline Productions

Videographer Tim Flagler: “So you’ve got a new fly reel and maybe even a spare spool but what’s the best way to set them up with the correct amount of backing and fly line. How much backing you put on a reel is incredibly important. Not enough and you aren’t using the reel to its full capacity, which will decrease retrieve speed and, honestly, just make you look like an inexperienced angler. Too much backing beneath the fly line and the reel is likely to jam because the fly line hits the frame.

Sometimes you can get lucky by just guessing how much backing to put on but it’s pretty darn hit-or-miss. The method I’m going to show for setting up the reel requires a bit of work but you’re guaranteed the perfect amount of backing each and every time. In a nutshell, what you’re going to do is put on your fly line and put enough backing over top of it to fill the reel to the correct amount. Then strip everything off and put it on in the correct order, first backing then fly line. I told you it sounds like a lot of work but as you’ll see, there are a few tricks that can really speed the process.”

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  • genelarson

    Nice video. I’m a little concerned about the arbor knot you illustrate. If I’m ever spooled by a fish, I guess I’d rather not have the line slipping around the arbor with no way to retrieve any line.

    • Tightline

      With the loop oriented in the manner shown in the video it will not slip on the arbor. Think of it like an oil filter wrench. Oriented one way it slips and won’t turn the filter, flip it over and it grips like nobody’s business.

      • genelarson

        I went back and watched it again and I see what you are talking about. The backing you used for the demo looks like it is more substantial than some of the ultra-thin materials available. Did you try this with any other kinds of backing material? I use some of the ultra-thin materials than were designed as fishing lines for casting reels. I get more backing on the reel with far less bulk.