Line Management

Some anglers are simply destined for failure. It is a sad reality, and a harsh one at that. You see, fishing fundamentals cannot be overlooked no matter how insignificant they may seem. Spooling your reel with fresh line is the first step every angler must take before attempting any kind of fishing, but as simple as it may seem it can be done improperly and create a tremendous amount of grief down the line.


Image 1 of 3

Since tournament teams have a lot on the line, fresh line is a must. Photo:

With the advent of newly designed copolymer filaments and unbreakable braided fishing lines, anglers now have a host of options that were never thought to be imaginable. While ultra-thin Spectra backing and barely visible fluorocarbon top-shots are now commonplace there are many situations when spooling with straight monofilament is still the way to go. Whatever line or combination of lines you choose to utilize, extreme battles and the harsh saltwater environment will greatly decrease your line’s lifespan and breaking strength. This is especially true for monofilament lines.

The bottom line is that there is money to be saved and friendships to nurture by purchasing bulk spools and filling all of your reels on your own.

Whether you choose braid or mono even pressure must be applied when packing line on a spool. Loosely packed line will ultimately backlash, jam and may even bury itself deep under multiple layers of line.

In typical fashion, loading a reel with fresh line involves persuading an unfortunate bystander into holding your filler spool on some sort of spindle and applying pressure to the sides of the spool by hand. After a few minutes of reeling the spool becomes hot to the touch and you’ll soon be out of a volunteer. You could take your reel to a local tackle shop and have them use a mechanical line spooler, but that’s not always an option the night before a big trip or tournament. Furthermore, frugal anglers don’t pay for things they can do themselves. The bottom line is that there is money to be saved and friendships to nurture by purchasing bulk spools and filling your reels on your own.

Proper spooling technique will be determined by the type of reel—rotating spool conventional reel or fixed spool spinning reel—and the type of line—modern monofilament or advanced braid. When spooling conventional reels with mono you want the line to roll off the face of the filler spool and onto your reel, not off the top or bottom of the filler spool. To ease the process I’ve created a self-spooling device with only a few items acquired from my local hardware store.

When spooling braid and monofilament you’ll want to make sure you have a tight connection at the reel’s spool. This is especially true for spinning reels. Many professionals claim a rubber band or piece of electrical tape is crucial to keep braided line from spinning freely around the spool, but this is absolutely unnecessary. If you are working with braid start by making four wraps around the spool before tying a uni knot. Tighten the knot to the spool as best you can while holding the spool tight. Trim the tag end and wrap the main line around the spool by hand four additional times, making sure the line doesn’t slip when you attempt to pull drag. For monofilament line you don’t need to perform as many wraps with the line to keep it tight. Now begin reeling and tightly pack line onto the reel. If you are working with a conventional reel it is very important you avoid making exaggerated crisscrosses. Line should pack evenly on the reel as you slowly move back and forth. When accomplished properly line will rest uniformly along the entire spool.

Due to their inherent design, spinning reels actually spin and twist line onto a fixed spool and there’s no way to avoid it. Because of this manufacturers have developed spinning reels with advanced line winding features. The speed in which a spinning reel rotates around the spool is referred to as stroke, and the latest long stroke technology packs monofilament with an X pattern to prevent line from burying itself.

When spooling spinning reels with monofilament you’ll have to adjust your technique. All monofilament lines have memory and when spooling a spinning reel you’ll want to match the memory to the clockwise motion of the reel to negate line twist. Lay your filler spool on a flat platform so the line comes off the side of the spool in a counterclockwise motion. Use the same knot configuration as you would with a conventional reel and simple apply tension to the line with your fingers while reeling.

With both conventional and spinning reels there are a few acts that can introduce line twists beyond improper spooling. Swivels that don’t twist properly, lures that don’t track true and improperly rigged baits that spin are all causes of twisted line. If your line has become noticeably twisted or you improperly spooled your reels don’t get too upset. On the way to the fishing grounds remove all terminal tackle and pay your line out behind the boat. I like to dump at least half of the spool. As you wind the line back it will untwist and pack super tight on the spool.

While there are a host of tools that can be used to make the process of spooling line user-friendly, the most important factor is that you replace line when it is noticeably chafed or abraded. This is one of the simplest ways to increase your score. Tight lines!

DIY Line Spooler

With tournament season upon us I was recently given the task to spool three dozen reels with fresh monofilament. You may think this is a huge burden, but one I chose over snelling hooks and catching bait in the rain. You see, with a little ingenuity I created a DIY line spooler that enables me to fill reels by myself from the comfort of my couch. I started by building a base out of plywood. When constructing the base it’s important to make sure the frame is both tall and wide enough to fit a large filler spool. Once your frame is built and reinforced you’ll want to drill a hole and insert a large bolt. From here place a tension spring and washer over the bolt and then add another washer after the spool. With a wingnut you can adjust the tension and keep constant pressure while reeling.