How to Replace the Fishing Line on a Reel

by John Lindell
Replacing your line on your spinning reel can prevent losing big fish.

Replacing your line on your spinning reel can prevent losing big fish.

The prudent angler realizes that the condition of his line is of the utmost importance. Frayed and strained line on your spinning reel will cost you when big fish come calling, breaking at an inopportune time and leaving you shaking your head. Sunlight, excess heat and rubbing against structures in the water are some of the things that can cause your line to weaken. By replacing old line on a yearly basis, you can avoid the mini-tragedies of breaking lines that leave you wondering why you did not take the time and effort to replace it.

Check your line periodically to determine if it needs replacing. Run your fingers over the first 20 to 25 feet as it comes off your reel, feeling for nicks and small abrasions where the line could snap off under heavy strain. The Learning How to Fish website suggests replacing your line every year so that you know it is sound.

Pull the old line off your fishing reel. Pull it off slowly to avoid damaging the reel. Wrap it around your hand and put it in a plastic bag for disposal in your trash. Bring it to your local tackle shop if the establishment offers a line recycling service.

Run the end of the new spool of line through each of the rod guides on your fishing rod. Missing a guide will be a problem, as the line will fail to come off the reel smoothly when you cast. Double check to be sure that you threaded the line through each guide.

Open the bail arm to the up position on your spinning reel. The bail arm is the thin wire piece on the top of your reel that gathers the line around the reel spool. The bail arm spins around the reel spool when you turn the handle on the reel. Failing to open it will mean starting the entire process over, because the bail arm will not grab the line if you simply tie the line to the reel with the bail arm closed, or in the down position.

Tie the end of the new line to the arbor (reel spool) on your spinning reel. Use an arbor knot to secure the line to your reel spool. Wrap the line by hand around the reel spool about five or six times. This will give the line traction when you turn the handle, letting it begin to gather around the spool. Close your bail arm.

Place the new spool of line on the floor in front of you. Sit in a chair and take the hand that you do not use to turn the reel's handle and grasp the line at the point before it goes into your reel. Turn the reel's handle slowly, keeping tension on the line going into the reel to prevent any loose wraps of line. These can cause problems later on, tangling the line as you cast. Work gloves can help prevent the line slicing into your hand during this step.

Watch the line coming off the new spool on the ground in front of you. If it appears to twist as it makes its way up and onto your reel, flip the spool over. Reel slowly, keeping pressure on the incoming line, until you have filled the reel spool to a quarter inch of its outer lip. Cut the line where it comes off the new spool and tie a leader and/or hook to the line and secure it to one of the rod guides.

Items you will need

  • New spool of fishing line
  • Work gloves
  • Chair
  • Nail clippers

About the Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.

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