The spinning reel is the most popular fishing reel on the market today. Most anglers have, at one time or another, used a spinning reel. With that experience, anglers have inevitably dealt with a poorly spooled reel. Knots, line twists, and line overfill are common characteristics of line not properly spooled on a reel. To help anglers understand how to spool a spinning reel, the following steps should be taken. Illustrations are provided by WikiHow.
How to Spool a Spinning Reel
1. Arbor Knot
The first decision you make once you’ve purchased your line (if you haven’t decided what line to use yet, here is a comprehensive guide on the best fishing line for spinning reels) is how to tie the line onto the reel. Through trial and error, we recommend an arbor knot to tie your line to your reel. An arbor knot is an overhand knot on the end of the line to act as a catch on another overhand knot up the line and around the spool. This provides adequate tension to allow the reel to “reel in” the line as you spool it.
Here is a great illustration on how to tie the Arbor knot. Open the bail and secure the knot tightly around the spool, trimming the excess line from the half knot at the end of the line. If you are using ultra thin fishing line, you may want to avoid tying a knot altogether. In that case, use a small piece of electrical tape to secure the line to the reel.
I like to use the piece of tape attached to the line on the new spool. Once you’ve tied on your line, you can now orient the new spool properly. Close the bail.
2. Label Side Up
The key to spooling your fishing line on a spinning reel properly is to avoid spooling the line in the opposite direction it is resting on the new spool. When you open the new spool, you’ll see the line is laid a particular way. You want to best emulate that onto your reel, which will prevent twists and knots appearing over multiple casts. The simple rule of thumb on this is lay your new spool of line label side up. Doing this allows the line to freely spool back onto the reel in the same direction as it’s laid on the new spool. While clenching the line between your index finger and thumb a foot away from the reel, tightly reel in the line a few rotations to get the spooling started. Once you have a solid base, lay the new spool of line label side up on the floor in front of you. Pointing the base of the rod towards the new spool of line, keeping the line somewhat taught in between your fingers, reel the line in. If the line is too loose on the reel, you will have tangles and knots to deal with down the road.
3. Leave About 1/8th of an Inch of Space
As you’re reeling in the new line, pay attention to how much space you have from the line to the rim of the reel. You want to have about an 1/8th of an inch of space between the rim and the line. It’s very hard to eyeball, but just leave enough space so you can rub your finger on the line and ensure it is not flush or over the rim of the reel. Too much line will cause the line to unspool during casting which will create knots and tangles.
That’s it! You’ve successfully spooled new fishing line on your reel. Some things to keep in mind: monofilament and fluorocarbon line have memory, so it is imperative you spool your reel label side up. Braided line does not have memory, so this rule doesn’t necessarily apply, but it is good practice regardless. Also note, this guide is meant purely to show how to put line on a spinning reel. It is not necessarily the same for trolling or baitcasting reels, or closed face reels for that matter. We will have separate guides for those reels on this site.
Be sure to check out our recommendations for best spinning reels and best fishing line for those reels. Our guide is comprehensive and a great resource for you to enhance your fishing experience! You can also check out our post on how to cast a spinning reel.