How to Spool a Fly Reel With Fly Line and Backing

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The first thing the new fly fishermen most learn is how to spool their fly reel. It is a simple process, but there are a few things you need to do to get the tapered fly line onto the reel.

Items you will need

  • Fly line

  • Fly reel

  • Backing

  • Glue

How to Spool a Fly Reel With Fly Line and Backing

Determine which type of fish you will be fishing for with your reel. This will determine which type of backing you will use. For heavier saltwater fly fishing, use braided fly line backing with a test that matches the fish you are seeking. Tests range from 10 to 100 lbs or more.

Tie the backing to the reel using a regular knot, then spool the line onto the reel. Be sure it goes over the top of the reel spool and doesn't feed out under the spool.

Attach the fly line backing to the end of the fly line. You can tell which end is the right end by reading your fly line taper. The tapered end goes on last. Un-spool your fly line and then find the taper, then find the bitter end.

Tie the backing to the reel using a nail knot. This is done by wrapping the backing several times around the fly line and a tube, then threading it through the tube and securing the knot. You can also secure the line with a touch of glue if you want to.

Put the reel down and let the glue dry, then test your fly line to backing connection.

Reel the remaining fly line onto the reel, and you are set to go!


  • Tighten and test your nail knot by pulling on the two ends with a lot of force. If it doesn't hold, re-tie and pay careful attention to your knot!


  • Spool a floating line and a sinking fly line to two separate spools, in case you need to switch in the middle of a trip.