Proper Spooling of Spinning and Baitcasting Reels

Proper Spooling of Spinning and Baitcasting Reels
When loading a spinning or baitcasting reel with fishing line, make sure the line comes off the top of the spool (as shown), and not the bottom. Improperly spooling fishing line onto a reel creates many problems.

This is the first of a series of articles detailing essential outdoor skills to learn before the warm winds of spring arrive in Kentucky

A family member bought you a nice spinning outfit for Christmas. Despite the cold, your desire to cast the new rod into water propels you to a local Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lake to try to fool some winter rainbow trout.

Dutifully spooling on some fresh 4-pound test monofilament, you cast a red and silver in-line spinner a few times. As you move to a new spot and shoot a cast, you hear a sound similar to a flushing covey of quail and see a ball of spaghetti moving up the rod.

You now have a bird’s nest of epic proportions, requiring cutting off the mess, pulling out the loops and retying the lure. You curse the brand of line you bought.

In all likelihood, it isn’t the line’s fault. Properly loading fishing line onto a spinning or baitcasting reel is a skill many anglers take for granted, but often do incorrectly, greatly reducing the line’s performance. Incorrect line loading often causes tremendous line twist, the main culprit behind bird’s nests.


For spinning reels, first make sure the line you’ve selected matches the capacities of the reel. These capacities are always labeled on the side of the reel’s spool. Don’t load 10-pound test line onto a reel designed to accept lines from 2- to 6-pound test.


Begin by placing the filler spool onto a table or floor with the label facing up. Run the tag end of the line through the stripper guide - the largest guide closest to the reel – and to the reel. Open the reel’s bail and wrap the line twice around the middle of the reel spool, tie an overhand knot and tighten. Follow up with another overhand knot and clip the line about ¼-inch from the knot. Make sure to clip the tag line, not the main line leading back to the filler spool.


Reel some line onto the spool and stop. Lower the rod toward the filler spool. If the line begins to jump and twist, flip the filler spool over, placing the label down. Sometimes, the direction the line was spun on the filler spool at the factory and the direction the spinning reel places line on the spool are not in synchronization, which causes enormous line twist. Flipping the filler spool alleviates this problem.

If the line comes off the spool in big loose coils and doesn’t twist, keep reeling until you fill the spool to the thickness of a nickel from the spool lip.

Another way to load the spool involves a helper. Have the helper run a wooden pencil through the hole provided in the center of the filler spool housing. Run the line through the stripper guide and tie on to the reel spool. Ask the helper to hold the spool and pencil assembly perpendicular to the reel, similar to the way a wheel rotates on an axle, and apply gentle pressure to the filler spool with their fingers.


The line must come off the top of the filler spool toward the reel, not the bottom, or it incurs line twist.

Resist the temptation to overfill a spinning reel’s spool. If you’ve ever opened the bail on a spinning reel and line shot off it like a top, then you’ve witnessed the results of overfilling the spool. You can lose half a spool of line from twists, tangles and bird’s nests from overfilling a spinning reel.

Manually closing the bail of a spinning reel with your hand after making a cast is one of the best ways to keep line twist at bay while fishing. Each time you close the bail by turning the reel handle, you apply twist to the line. Over a day of fishing, these twists add up and produce loops and tangles that eventually lead to a mess. After a few fishing trips, manually closing the bail becomes second nature.


To fill baitcasting reels, run the line from the filler spool through the guide closest to the reel and through the line guide of the baitcasting reel to the spool. You can simply run the line through the holes in the ported spools found on most baitcasting reels today and start reeling. Or, secure the line to the spool with an arbor knot. Both techniques work.

The pencil through spool with a helper technique works best on baitcasting reels. Again, make sure the line comes off the top of the filler spool, not the bottom. You can also do it by yourself by placing the filler spool on a table with the label up and checking for twist, but the pencil through the spool method works much better for baitcasters.

Fill the spool to within a 1/16-inch of the rim and, again, resist the impulse to overfill the reel.

Don’t let line problems stemming from improper loading ruin a day of fishing. Following these simple procedures will achieve the best casting distance for your spinning and baitcasting reels, keep tangles at bay, and extend the life of your line.

Editor’s Note: Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

Recommended for You

How does one go about getting rid of chiggers and treating chigger bites? Your first line of defense is insect repellent with DEET to keep chiggers at bay. But when you do get a few chigger bites, use Chigarid to treat them. Hunting How-To

How to Treat Chigger Bites

Lynn Burkhead

How does one go about getting rid of chiggers and treating chigger bites? Your first line of...

 Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or bait Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Stories

More Fishing How-To

Catching more bass starts before you leave your house. Here are 10 pointers to help you prepare. Bass

MLF Pros Checklist for a Day on the Water

Pete M. Anderson - July 02, 2019

Catching more bass starts before you leave your house. Here are 10 pointers to help you...

Line counters are inherently inaccurate. Here's how to get your walleye bait in the zone. Fishing How-To

How to Calibrate Line-Counter Fishing Reels

Mark Romanack

Line counters are inherently inaccurate. Here's how to get your walleye bait in the zone.

When walleyes hold deeper than many popular crankbaits can reach, it's time to adapt with snap weights and precise depth control. Walleye

Deep Thinking for Fall Walleyes

Mark Romanack - September 24, 2019

When walleyes hold deeper than many popular crankbaits can reach, it's time to adapt with snap...

See More Fishing How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×