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How to Put Line on a Spinning Reel

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Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated February 25, 2021

A spinning reel is one of the most versatile types of fishing reels that exists, and it's extremely easy to use compared to a baitcasting reel.

There's one problem, however. With spinning gear, it's easy to introduce line twists when you're spooling up a reel. We'll make sure you know how to avoid that problem.

Whether your line is worn out and you need to restring your fishing reel, you have the wrong size line spooled up and want to change fishing line, or you just got a new spinning reel, in this article, we'll explain how to put new line on your reel.

In the end, you'll see that spooling a reel is easy!

If you're more into watching video guides, we recommend the one below:

A Note About Line Selection

If you're spooling a medium-sized spinning reel and your fishing style calls for anything larger than about 12-pound test, you should use braid. If you do decide to go with braid, lay a little bit of mono on the spool first, as backing (using the same steps explained here). That will prevent the braid from slipping on the spool. With the backing in place, you can attach the braid to the mono using a Uni Knot, and then spool up as described below.

How to Spool a Spinning Reel

This section gives you step-by-step instructions on how to put line on a reel.

It can help to have another person around, but eventually, you'll need to do this procedure alone, so we've focused on providing steps to load line on a spinning reel by yourself.

Step 1: Attach the Reel to the Rod

It's much easier to install fishing line on a spinning reel if the reel is attached to the rod.

Step 2: Run the Line Through the First Guide

Take the end of the line off the spool that it came on and run the line (towards the reel) through the first guide—the large one that's mounted closest to the reel seat.

Step 3: Open the Bail

You must remember to open the bail. You'd be surprised how often people skip this step. Then, after the line is carefully attached to the spool, they realize that it's not going to get picked up by the bail, and it's back to this step. Save yourself some trouble and remember to open the bail right before you attach the line to the spool.

Step 4: Attach the Line to the Reel Spool

Learning how to tie line to a reel is pretty straight forward. You should wrap the line two times around the reel spool, then secure it with an over-hand knot. Trim the tag end close.

If you're restringing your reel because the line that was on there is worn out, you may choose to leave some of the old line on the reel as backing. If you do that, you can simply connect the old line with the new line using a Uni knot. This tip can save you some money when you reline your reel, because it'll take less new line to fill the spool.

Step 5: Slowly Start Winding Line onto the Reel

Now, you can flip the bail closed and start slowly turning the handle. As you crank, the rotating bail will lay line onto the reel spool in even wraps. Stop after just a couple of cranks, because it's time for the most critical step: ensuring the line spool is facing the right direction.

Step 6: Watch Your Spool Orientation

There are three ways the line spool could be oriented, and only one of them is right. The other two will results in line twist.

First of all, do not run the line straight off the spool like you would when spooling a baitcaster. It needs to be coming off with a face of the spool pointed toward you.

When explaining how to put line on a reel, some would discuss whether the line should come off clockwise or counterclockwise. That's as confusing to describe as it is to remember, so here's a little trick.

Standup and hold the rod parallel to the floor. Place the line spool on the ground in front of you, with the label either facing you, or facing the floor.

While putting a little tension on the line (with your hand, between the reel and the first guide), start cranking the reel. After about ten cranks, watch the line right near the spool on the floor, and lower the rod to allow slack.

This is the moment of truth, and you'll see one of two things. The loose line will lay on the floor in nice, relaxed loops, or, you'll see the loops twist over onto themselves into coils that don't look relaxed at all. You want to see relaxed coils at that point, and if you don't, simply flip the spool over and repeat the test.

When you can crank about ten times and then see loose, relaxed coils on the floor, you've got it, and you can proceed. There's no need to unspool any line to correct twists that got in there; they're so deep on the spool it won't matter.

Step 7: Crank Until the Reel Spool is Full

Now, all you have to do is fill the reel with line. Standing up, facing the spool on the floor, hold the rod parallel, put a little tension on the line by grabbing it between the reel and the first guide, and start slowly cranking. Pick up speed and keep going until the line comes within 1/8 and 3/16 of an inch from the lip of the spool.

After that, you can clip the line, thread it through the rest of the rod guides, and tie on a lure.

Spooling Up Is Easy!

We hope this article has given you all the information you need to properly put fishing line on a reel.

It should be noted that you can use the same procedure for putting fishing line on spincast reels. The steps provided above mainly apply to spinning reels, which are open face reels, but they are the same steps you'll take when putting line on closed face reels. Just remember to run the line through the hole in the reel face.

Now that you know how to string a reel, you'll be able to respool any time you need to. Replace that worn out line now—spooling a reel is easy if you follow the steps in the article!