Believe it or not, the best way to spool a spinning reel is to ask someone at the sporting goods store to do it for you. Most sporting goods stores have a really cool machine that does it quick, and easy. But any real angler needs to know how to spool a spinning reel! So no, we are not going to recommend that you wimp out and let someone else spool your reel. Doing it yourself, particularly learning how to spool a spinning reel, will provide you with the satisfaction of feeling like a true fisherman, which you’ll be once you learn.
The importance of doing it yourself -- and doing it the right way -- can not be understated. The more you know about the sport of fishing, the more successful you will be. And being assured that you know how to spool a spinning reel means that when you’re on the banks of the river, when the fish are jumping, hungry and biting, you’ll sling back your rod with confidence that once your line hits its mark, and that 7-10 pound bass strikes, you’ll feel comfortable with the knowledge that your reel, your line, and your rod will not fail you. And at the end of your fishing expedition you’ll be taking an impressive selfie, with your prize catch, and posting it on social media, becoming the envy of all your friends. The post of a thousand likes, no doubt!
Without further ado, what follows is a simple guide in what you need to know on how to spool a spinning reel.
Why It Matters to Spool a Spinning Reel Properly
Your fishing line is an integral component of your fishing equipment. And the most important part of your gear, quite simply, is your reel. Together, you’ll sink or swim when at the lake. Think about it. If you don’t spool your reel appropriately, your line can kink, twist, jam, and just flat out fail you. And if you happen to be on the hunt for that elusive 35-pound catfish, and you know he’s out there, ready to take your bait, nothing is more frustrating than cranking your line out to that spot where your gut has been telling you that catfish is waiting for you, and then your reel jams up on you. There aren’t enough curse words to express how frustrated you’ll be at that moment.
So don’t let this happen, take some time before you head out to your favorite fishing hole and spool your reel properly.
The first thing you need to do, is use the proper fishing line for the type of fish you’re trying to catch, and yes, sometimes it matters whether you’re fishing in freshwater or saltwater. In general, spinning reels are ideally designed for lighter lines and smaller bait. That’s not saying you can’t use heavier line and bait, it’s just most fishing experts feel this way.
Which Line Should I Use?
The most common type of fishing line is monofilament. It’s a single strand line that is buoyant and there is some flexibility in terms that there is some give (or a slight stretchability). This could be good, but if a line stretches, that also means it snaps more often. And there are certain levels of strength with monofilaments (well, this is true for all lines). Monofilament lines range for a 10-20 pound test line. This type of line is basic and good for most casual fishermen, and can handle fish like bluegill, smaller sized bass and catfish, etc.
The heavier test lines can handle fish which are heavier, but when you start to specialize, you need to be aware of the benefits of the other types of line such as braid lines, and fluorocarbon. Again, each type of line has different strengths available, so know what you are fishing for, and adjust your line decision accordingly.
Now, braided lines actually go back further than nearly any type of line, and is popular because of its durability, braided lines don’t stretch, so it allows for more control, depending on what you are fishing for. The catch? Well, braided lines are more noticeable to the fish you are trying to catch, so it could spook your intended prey. But it’s durability and reliability makes it an extremely popular choice. Then there are the fluorocarbon fishing lines.
These lines are fairly new (in terms of using for reels) and are popular for fishermen who like how invisible they are in the water. Like braided lines, they also don’t allow for much stretching. Fluorocarbon lines aren’t all that great for fishing locations where your line might get pulled through debris (mossy areas, etc.). And in case you are wondering, the technique of how to spool a spinning reel is not affected by the line (or it’s thickness).
To boil it down, a search engine can help you decide the appropriate line for the type of fish (and location) you are aiming for on your outing. For our purposes, we’ll use monofilament when explaining how to spool a spinning reel.
What Is a Spinning Reel?
Just thought I’d throw this in here, a quick paragraph on exactly what a spinning reel is. Spinning reels, created by the French over 70 years ago, use a bail to control spinning your line into the water and back onto your reel. It’s a marvelous advancement, particularly for folks who don’t have the patience (or skill!) of fishing with an old-style fly fishing rod or the archaic, simple line tied to the end of a pole.
A spinning reel is the most popular reel among rod anglers. And the most common spinning reel is the open-faced reel. It’s design is to make casting easier and more effective. A spinning reel is excellent for catching bass. A good size bass may only weigh anywhere from 7-9 pounds, but they are elusive, can strike hard, and fight hard, making it the ultimate angling challenge. In short, bass will make you work for the privilege of adding him to your daily catch. And the spinning reel also lets the line do the work, without the reel putting forth more effort than is necessary. Many anglers also believe casting a spinning reel is more fun. Now, how do you spool a spinning reel?
How to Spool a Spinning Reel, the Official Guide
Ok, you’ve got your rod, your reel, and your monofilament line, so let’s get to work.
Besides your rod, reel and line, you’ll need to have on hand a new spool of your favorite fishing line, a knife (or something to cut the line with), a rubber band, and a basic knowledge of how to tie knots on fishing lines (yes, this is important).
The first thing you want to do is figure out which way your bail is turning. Pretend you’re ready to cast your rod, and hold your reel naturally. Grab the handle and pay attention to which way the bail is turning when reeling in your line after a cast. Remember this, because this is exactly how the line will be reeled in on the spool, and that means when you cast, the spool will do the opposite.
Some folks find it easier to run your line through the guides of the rod before the spooling process, so you might consider this before getting started. The advantage? It can be easier when you get to the point where you're cranking your line onto the empty reel.
Now, familiarize yourself with how the replacement line is spooled as you’ll want to spool your line on your reel the same way.
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to pull off some of the new line, and attach it to your reel. To do this, you’ll need to peel off just a few inches, so you can wrap the line around the empty reel, and tie it appropriately.
As for the knot needed, an arbor knot works just fine. A uni knot can also be used. Not sure how to tie either one? A Google search will provide a diagram so you’ll do the job properly. An arbor knot is basically a simple end over end knot, pulled through another end over end knot, creating one large double knot. Again, an internet search can show a picture (it’s what I had to do).
Ok, so you’ve got the knot tied, now is the time for a slow, steady, patient hand. I note this because we’re so used to reeling in our line rapidly, and you don’t want to do so when you're winding your new line to an empty reel.
With that said, slowly reel in your new line. If you are doing this without any assistance, place your replacement line spool on the ground. It’s important to provide some tension to the line, so you’ll want to place the line between your fingers as you reel in the line (again, with a slow, deliberate cranking motion). If you have a buddy to help you, have them hold the replacement line spool, by placing a pencil or a pencil-sized stick in the middle of the spool to make spooling easier, as well as use some additional finger pressure to provide a little more tension. The tension helps the line spool onto your reel with less slack, which can cause kinks.
Another thing to keep in mind is keeping an eye out for any kinks or line twisting as you reel in the replacement line, if you notice any of the line twisting, unfortunately, the best thing to do is start over, unless you catch it immediately and can straighten it out.
Continue winding the line onto the reel, but keep in mind that you need to leave a space of about ⅛ of an inch from the top of the spool. Most reels have a tab, notch, mark or a line indicating where you need to stop spooling the line. This step is actually important, because if you don’t use enough line, it can cause your cast to be shorter causing problems at the top of the reel spool. Too much line can cause problems as well, as when the line is wet, it can cause the line to cause a backlash.
Once you have the appropriate length of replacement line on your reel, it’s time to cut the line. It’s a good idea to take a rubber band and place it over your newly spooled reel, that is if you are not going to be fishing immediately. Now that you know how to spool a spinning reel, you’re ready to hop on the boat and fish for that trophy bass without fear that your reel will fail you.
Another key thing to remember: whenever you are done fishing -- especially if you’ve been fishing in saltwater -- rinse off your rod and reel. And either dry it with a towel, or let it dry in the sun for a bit. Your equipment will rust. And saltwater causes rust to occur quicker.
A Final Thought On The Benefits Of Spinning Reels
Keep in mind that fishing is no longer simply a required skill necessary for survival. While some fishermen hit the waterways with the intention of using their catch to feed their family, fishing has become an exceedingly popular sporting and leisure activity. At its highest levels, it’s an extremely competitive sport with serious money on the line. And while equipment used for angling can be expensive, to enjoy the sport, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. A simple spinning reel (with rod) can be had for $20-30, for a basic, nothing fancy model. Replacement line costs from $3 on up, and fishing tackle can run from a couple of dollars on up.
The point here is it’s an inexpensive sport, while at the same time, one of the few sports where you can sit back in a chair, at the lake, sip a cold one, and enjoy nature. You can fish patiently, where you spend hours trying to outsmart that elusive bass, or you could fish aggressively, like finding that farm pond stocked with hungry bluegill. And if you’re lucky at the end of the day, you’ll snag a nice sized fish -- or a few -- for dinner!
John is the wisest member of our team since he's the oldest person here. He has gathered lots of tips and tricks throughout his 35-year angling career. His love for angling has led him to join our team because he wants to share his wisdom with others. Back in the day, he had to visit locations around the country and speak to many anglers to get more information about angling and now he wants to share it online. He doesn't fish as much as he used to, but his passion for angling is ever present.