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Reel Spooling Tips

By Reece Thomas

So, you have just bought that new reel and are ready to spool it with line, however you are wondering the best way to achieve a perfect full spool?

This will vary between reels, however I will outline the type of reel and cover how best to spool it with monofilament or braided lines.

Spinning Reel (Monofilament)

With the reel attached to the rod, run the line through the guides from the tip and down to the spool, locking it tight to the spool with a simple knot. I like to wrap the mono line around the spool a couple of times before beginning the knot.

Mono line doesn't require a lot of tension when spooling and will normally lay fairly evenly. I like to achieve the tension by putting the spool in an empty box or bucket and holding the line lightly between my fingers as it is wound on.

For a spin reel with mono, you want to leave a 2-3mm gap to the edge of the spool to ensure that you are not over spooling the reel.

Spinning reel (Braid)

Spooling a reel with braid is slightly more complicated than mono and can be tricky if you haven't experienced this before. I would recommend the use of a spooling machine. Most tackle shops are equipped with one and provide this as a service. However, if you don't have this luxury, it can still be achieved by hand, with a few simple tools like a screwdriver or pen and an accomplice to keep tension on the spool with a cloth when you are winding. You can also buy a line spooler that will suction cup onto a surface and hold the spool with tension. These are particularly useful if you are regularly changing lines or have multiple reels to spool.

The most important factor to consider when spooling a reel with braid is that will you need to 'back' the reel. Backing a reel refers to using a mono line as a filler before spooling over it with a braided line to achieve a full spool.

This is most commonly done when you have thin diameter braids or a large spool that doesn't require the use of a full spool of braid. You will need to calculate the amount of backing needed to ensure that you don't under or over fill the spool. Use the manufactures .mm or lb rating on the spool or reel box and then compare this with the diameter or lb class of the braid that you are using, to gauge how much backing you will require.

If you plan to fill the spool with braid you can either run a short length of backing (enough to just cover the bottom of the spool) or use a thread tape to wrap around the spool, before you tie the braid straight onto it. This will prevent the braid from slipping on the surface of the spool under tension. Many times an angler has thought there is a problem with their reel, when in fact the braid isn't anchored to the spool, and being very slick the braid is simply spinning freely on the spool under tension.

To pick the correct size backing line I would recommend matching it to a similar size diameter as your braided line to ensure the braid will not dig into the backing under tension. The process for backing is the same as spooling a mono line, then when you have enough backing select a knot to tie your braided line to the backing. The most common knots used are an Albright or Double Uni, however it pays to tie a slimmer knot, like an FG or Slim Beauty, if you are spooling lighter lines in the 4lb or 6lb class. This will ensure that the braid will not catch on the knot when you are getting lower down on the spool.

Correct tension is important when spooling with braid. If the braid is spooled too loose, a few problems can arise, including wind knots or braid slipping on or digging into the spool. Always leave a 1-2mm gap between the edge of the spool and the braid to ensure that the reel is not over spooled. An over spooled reel will have a tendency to wind knot, which can result in losing many metres of your new braid or casting off that favourite lure.

Baitcast Reel (Braid)

Baitcasters would be one of the easiest reels to spool as most will not require much backing at all, given their slightly smaller spool sizes and the level wind doing all the work in terms of guiding the line onto the reel. It pays to keep a close eye on the level wind as sometimes it may not reach the sides of the spool, causing an uneven line lay. If this starts to form, guide the line gently to the sides of the spool to even out the lay. If the baitcaster does require backing, simply repeat the same steps as spooling a spinning reel with backing.

A full baitcast spool would ideally be about 1-2mm from the edge of the spool, leaving enough room that if your leader knot was to be wound onto the spool it would not jam against the body of the spool.

Overhead (Monofilament)

Overhead reels spooled with mono have a large following in the game fishing community, where the stretch of the line is needed once a large fish is hooked. Most overheads have a fairly big spool and will hold large amounts of line.

When spooling with mono it is important to check the manufactures line capacity specifications to guide you on how much line you will require.

Whenever spooling monofilament line be careful not to apply too much tension as this can over stretch the line or cause it to burn, which will reduce the breaking strain of the line. I like to use a microfibre cloth to guide the line onto the reel and control the correct amount of tension.

Overhead (Braid)

The thin diameter that braided lines offer is a huge advantage for overhead reels, giving anglers the ability to fish heavier breaking strains while still maintaining a large amount of line on the reel. Again, I would recommend the use of a spooling machine for braid on an overhead as this can be a time consuming process to achieve manually.

If using an overhead reel for offshore fishing, look for a spool length of 300-500m and then work out from the manufacturer's specifications whether you will need to back the reel with a mono line.

A quick tip before spooling an overhead reel is to check whether the reel clamp bolts need to be fitted in place prior to spooling.

For overhead reels that have a level wind the process is fairly simple and no guiding of the line will be required. If the reel is a non-level wind use a cloth to hold the line and gently guide it evenly across the spool.

It is recommended to leave a 2-3mm gap between the braid and the edge of the spool to ensure longer leaders can be wound onto the reel, especially with non-level wind reels as they tend to create a slight mound of line toward the middle of the spool by the end of a day's fishing.

Another common use of braid on overhead reels is used as a backing and then top shotted with a mono line, for instances where you don't need to run a full spool of mono.

Examples of this could include when using an overhead for drone fishing, where the angler needs as much line as possible and a short length of mono is used as a top shot to give some stretch. The FG knot is again the best knot to join your braid to a top shot of mono.

I hope this has helped to cover some of the techniques used to achieve a perfect spooling.

Reece Thomas

Check out the range of Platypus quality, Australian Made braid and monifilament fishing lines at -