For the angler who spools line on their reels themselves here are a few tips to get the most out of your line and fishing reel. I don’t recommend spooling reels with line greater than 50lb test unless you have the proper equipment, knowledge and experience. Spooling large format / large capacity reels should be left to the professionals at your local bait and tackle shop or marine dealer. Regardless of the type of line (mono, super-braid, Dacron, etc) you plan on spooling, the proper tension (not too little, not excessive) on the line is extremely important. A leather work glove is perfect for applying pressure and saving your hands from line burns and slices. In addition to tension, the “lay” of the line is important as well. Line should slightly cross-over at an angle layer to layer. Perfectly parallel wraps of line combined with improper tension will allow burying or digging of the line on the spool when fighting a fish. This will then cause, at the very least, the inability of the line to come off the spool freely when casting or free-spooling and, at worst, a non-functioning drag and a lost fish. I’ve also witnessed buried super-braid snapping off at the reel with the end truly buried, requiring the cutting off of all the line from the reel.

When spooling a spinning reel by winding the reel itself, the line should come off one end of the filler spool with the loops in the same direction they go on the reel spool (filler spool should not be rotating), keep tension on it with your fingers as you wind and the oscillation of the reel will take care of the lay.

When spooling a level-wind reel by winding the reel itself, the line should come off the filler spool by unwinding in the same direction it will come off the reel (filler spool should be rotating), keep tension on it with your fingers as you wind and the level-wind guide of the reel will take care of the lay.


Spools should be filled close to capacity, between 1/8”- 1/4” from the edge of the spool. Insufficient line on a reel will cause drag and casting issues as well as creating greater potential of getting “spooled” by a trophy fish. Experienced anglers will be sure they start with a full spool as they regularly cutoff lengths of line from the end as it wears and breaks down from fishing. Line should be replaced at least once a season and more often on heavily fished reels. Also remember to remove the line from the spool when storing reels for any extended time.

  • If you are using braided line, make sure you put tape (electrical or first-aid work well) or a layer of mono on the reel first. Otherwise the braid will slip around the spool and you won't be able to set the hook. My preferred method is a layer or two of mono secured with an arbor knot (secured to a pin if the spool has one), then connecting the braid to the mono with a good line-to-line knot (Albright, uni-to-uni, etc)

  • To avoid loops when you fish, keep tension on the line whenever you are reeling. If you need to, hold the line between your thumb and finger in front of the reel.

  • If you do get a lot of twists in your line, take the lure off and just let a lot of line out behind the boat as you go. This will take the loops out. Rewind the reel while holding the line between your thumb and finger in front of the reel.

  • If you don't have a boat, just take off the lure and tie your line to a post.(or your 4X4 if your on the beach). Walk away, spooling out line behind you. Now have somebody cut the line free so you can reel it back on, but be sure to keep tension on it with your fingers.

  • Two other methods of reducing twist when spooling a spinning reel are:

    • Put the filler spool, label side up, into your sink or a bucket of water. The spool will spin slowly as it spools off.

    • Put a phone book on the edge of a coffee table, put your filler spool of line on the ground about 6-8 inches away from the coffee table/phone book, run the line through the middle of the phone book and through all the guides on your rod., tie off to your reel and start to wind.

  • Fly fisherman using a line conditioner to treat your filler spools prior to filling your reel spool will help the line wind on your reel better with less twist. Regular use of a quality line conditioner before and after fishing will protect your line and help it last longer and give you longer more accurate casts.


  • DO Take the old line to a line recycling bin. You can find these at most tackle shops.
  • NEVER dispose of old line by throwing it on the ground or into the water. Birds and fish get tangled in old line and die.
  • DON'T bite line with your teeth. It can chip or break them. Always use a snips, scissors, etc.

Quick Tip
Is your level-wind reel stacking line on one side of the spool? This is caused by the pawl wearing, it should be replaced otherwise continued wear will damage your level wind system costing you more to repair later when the reel stops working.


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