How To Load Fly Fishing Line

There are two steps required to know how to load fly fishing line onto a fly reel. First,  backing must be added to the reel. Backing is a thin, braided Dacron line that is attached to the spool of the fly reel. Backing adds volume to the reel and acts as reserve in case a large fish manages to take the entire fly line off your reel. Next, the end of the fly line is attached to the end of the backing and spooled onto the reel.

To load fly fishing line, you will need:

  • Fly rod of any length
  • Fly line
  • 200 to 300 yards of 20-pound test braided Dacron backing depending on size of fly reel
  • Pencil
  • 3-inch nail
  • Clippers
  1. Take the fly reel and attach it to the fly rod. Take the tag end of the backing and run it through the rod guides. Attach the line to the reel spool with an arbor knot by making a simple overhand knot at the end of the line. Tie a second overhand knot near the first one which will keep the line from slipping through the first knot. Pull the line tight around the spool.

  2. Run a pencil through the center hole of the spool holding the backing. Let someone hold both ends of the pencil so that it allows the spool to spin freely. Using your fingers, apply tension to the line and, depending on the size of the reel, spool about 250 yards of backing onto the reel. When done, cut the end of the backing and leave the line in the rod guides.

  3. Use a nail knot to attach the backing to the fly line by placing a 3-inch nail between the ends of the fly line and backing. Wrap the backing back towards the end of the fly line six times. Pass the end of the backing through the loop that was formed. When the line is through, pull on both ends of the fly line and backing.  Make sure the loops do not cross each other. Holding with your fingers, withdraw the nail and pull both ends away from each other. Clip the excess backing and fly line close to the finished knot.

  4. Run a pencil through the spool of the fly line and proceed to winding it onto the reel as in Step 2.  The process is now complete.

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