How to put line on your spinning reel

By Ramon Contreras •  Updated: 03/18/22 •  7 min read

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably trying figure out how to put line on your spinning reel for the first time or you haven’t done it in a long time and you just want a quick refresher. I’m going to walk you through the easiest way I learned how to do it and give you some extra tips I picked up along the way.

How to put line on your spinning reel

For new anglers or anglers who haven’t fished in a long time, putting line on a reel can be a daunting task. What knot do I use? how do I set up my line? How do I hold my reel? These are all questions I found myself asking when I first tried to learn how to do this. I’ve gone through several ways to do it and learned the easiest and fastest way to spool your spinning reel.

#1 Place your spool on the ground with the line going counter clockwise

spool of fishing line on the ground with the line coming off counter clockwise

First thing you’re going to want to do is set up your line in the proper position. You want your line going counter clockwise so that when you open your bail, your line comes off in the right motion. Doing this will limit wind knots and line twist.

Take your line and you find out which way the line is coming off the spool. For some brands this means the label will be facing up and for others the label will be facing down, regardless you want the line to come off the spool counter-clockwise.

Zebco Omniflex Monofilament Fishing Line

Zebco Omniflex Monofilament Fishing Line

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#2 Put your reel on your rod

a fishing rod with the fishing reel attached

There are tons of tools on the market that you can buy that will help you put line on your reel, but to be honest you don’t need those. Simply put your reel on your fishing rod and you will be good to go.

#3 Hold your rod and reel

This one is funny because you’re actually not going to hold your fishing rod for this. What you’re going to want to do is place it in between your legs. This makes it easy to attach the line to your reel because you can use both hands to tie your knots and your reel is right where you can see it and work on it.

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

This is the rod combo that started it all for me. Super versatile without breaking the bank and very durable. Buy Now Disclaimer – I use affiliate links so I can keep buying fishing and hunting gear. I get a small commission at no additional cost to you.

#4 Run your fishing line through your first guide

pulling fishing line through the first line guide to the fishing reel

Now that your rod and reel is placed where you can work on it and your spool is in the proper position on the ground you’re going to want to start putting the line on your reel. So take your line and run it through the first guide towards your spinning reel. This is the closest guide from your reel and the widest.

#5 Open your bail

opening the bail of a fishing reel

This is a crucial step here the last thing you want is to tie your line to your reel and you have your bail closed the entire time. If you do this you wont actually be able to put line on your reel because your line is outside the bail because it was closed. So you make sure your bail is open.

#6 Tie your line to your spinning reel

Now this is hardest part, but once you do this everything from here on out is smooth sailing.

You’re going to take your line and give a good amount of tag end. Then you’re going to wrap your line two to three times around your reel spool. Next you’re going to tie an overhand knot, the same knot you tie when you start tying your shoes and cinch it down tight. Repeat this part two more times for a total of three overhand knots. Finally you’re going to want to trim off the excess line also known as the tag end. Once you’re done that, just flip your bail over to close it.

#7 Adjust your tension

diagram of the tension knob and how to tighten it on a fishing reel

Now this might be a little premature, but I think it’s an important step at this point. If you’re using monofilament or fluorocarbon line, your fishing line will have memory. Tightening the tension on your spinning reel will help you spool your reel so give the knob at the top of your reel a few cranks to the right. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

#8 Slowly reel in your line.

putting line on a fishing reel

Now you’re ready to start putting line on your reel. What I like to do is I grab right underneath the first guide and apply a little bit of tension and slowly start reeling in my line. Before you do this, if you want to secure the line a little better, and you can put some electrical tape, but I’ve found is you don’t necessarily need it if you’re using mono because it bites on the reel pretty well.

#9 Fill your reel spool

Once you have some line on here, you can start speeding it up a little bit, but you just want to make sure that your line’s not kinking up on you. Some reels do have little markers on them. I just kind of eyeball it. And I want about eighth of an inch from the top.

If you don’t have enough line on your reel, when you go to cast it, it can catch on the lip of the reel. So make sure you have enough line so you can get as much casting distance as possible.

#10 Secure your line

fishing line tied to a hook and the hook is on the hook keeper of a fishing rod

Once your spool is full you’re going to cut your line and run the line through the rest of your guides. Loosen your drag a bit just enough so you can pull your line slowly. Pinch your line against each guide as you run through it and catch it with your other finger, you’re going to want to run it all the way to the top. Give yourself some extra line so your can secure it to a hook, lure, or line keeper on your rod or reel.

That’s how you put line on your reel.

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Boomerang Fishing Line Cutter

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Spooling Tips

What can I do about memory in my fishing line?

There’s a few things you can do to help with that memory.

When should I replace my fishing line?

Over time, the memory is going to come back into your mono, or your fluoro, but it’s going to be to shape of your reel. So you’ll see loops in your line when you cast. Usually around there, you can change your line if you want to but I probably change my line out if I feel some knicks or kinks.

If you notice your line is breaking easily when you set the hook or your line looks dry and brittle, that’s usually a good sign its time to put some new line on your reel. Fishing line can get expensive so ultimately it’s totally up to you when you want to change your line.

Should I use line backing?

If you’re going to use braid, I do recommend you use a monofilament backing. In colder, freezing temperatures, braid tends to seize up and slip on the reel and it will feel like your drag is broken. Putting on a mono backing helps prevent your braid from slipping because it’s bitting on the mono line instead of the metal reel spool.

You don’t need much mono for your backing, just enough to cover the reel spool up and down, two to three times. Then you tie a joining knot to tie your braided line to your mono. I like to use an Alberto knot. It’s small in profile and easy to tie.

Putting line on your spinning reel is easy

Now that you’ve gone through the steps, go outside and enjoy the water. You might also want to take a look at the three easy fishing knots for beginners so you can make sure you have a knot for any situation! If you catch a fish make sure you tag me on instagram so I can see it!

Ramon Contreras

Adult onset hunter and angler trying to learn new skills and making mistakes along the way.

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