This article is carried over from one of my previous efforts at a fishing website (which I’m about to re-do, and maybe tag team the old Articles section there with this blog). Originally written sometime around 2006/2007.


The line on your reel is one of the most important items of tackle you’re likely to buy, as that’s what (along with the hook) connects you directly to any fish you happen to catch.


However, one of the most commonly asked fishing questions I see posted around the internet is about how to attach the damn stuff to your reel in the first place. As this is something you generally need to do every couple of years regardless of condition (even sooner still if you often fish among lots of snags, lure fish, or come across any other problem that doesn’t do your line much good), here’s an (almost?) definitive guide on how to go about it.


There are a couple of tests you can do to determine whether or not your reel needs new monofilament line putting on it – visual & by touch.


The visual test…. other than when you’ve bought a new reel out of it’s box, and it’s blatently obvious you need line on it ‘cos there isn’t any on the flamin’ spool yet… the main one is looking for kinks in the line, and perhaps the occasional split on the end. If it’s just in the first couple of feet / yards / metres of line you can usually just get away with trimming it off. If it’s alot further along, then it’s time for new line.


The touch test is simply a matter of running the line between finger & thumb, and feeling for kinks or any rough bits… and also if you see a white powdery substance on your fingers that’s come off the line. If you feel / see anything like this, then it’s fresh monofilament line time.


Once you’ve established you need new line, the next task is choosing which brand, and which breaking strain you need to buy.


There are many brands of line out there, many of which sell a few different ranges. It’s essential to pick the right one, as some are better and more durable than others…. and others aren’t always truthful with the breaking strain & diameter on the label.


A good starting point of where to look is the EFTTA Line testing section HERE.


My personal recommendations are: In the UK, go for either SHAKESPEARE, or the own brand bulk spools by mail-order fishing retailers MULLARKEYS.

 To Anglers in other parts of the world, I suggest either BERKLEY or STREN fishing lines.


For diameter & breaking strain… you should already have a fairly good idea, with a like-for-like swap with what you’ve already got on (e.g. replacing 6lb BS line with some fresh 6lb BS line). You should also know what your reel is capable of holding if you’ve still got the manufacturer’s catalogue with it in (one of the reasons I still have a few hold ones hanging about), but the data should also be printed on the spool of your reel….. though it’s started to fade off some of my newer reels now they’ve got a couple of years use on them (hint: make a note of this info, and keep in a safe place for future reference in case this happens with your reels too).


I tend to prefer buying line in larger 300metre or 600m (or bigger) spools where possible… you may have noticed it’s generally sold in 100metre spools, but the blurb for your reel says it holds more than this.


I prefer to buy larger spools for this very reason, as it saves tying together 2x 100metre spools, which I’ve noticed causes a few problems (and I’ve always been a bit cackhanded with line-to-line knots). The first, is the knot tying the 2 together is a potential weak spot should you hook into a big fish.


However, the main one which always drove me up the bloody wall, was that it usually results in buggering up your casting, particularly with Fixed-Spool/Spinning reels (never tried it with a multiplier / baitcast reel). You cast out…. everything going smoothly…. then the line departing from the spool catches around the knot, brings everything to a halt in mid-air, landing with a splosh (and probably scaring off any fish that was there)………. and also causing a lovely little tangle for you to sort out.


So, as a result, that’s why I use bigger spools of fresh line to spool up my fixed-spool/spinning & baitcasting multiplier.


Now we’ve come to the part that got you reading this article in the first place…. actually getting it onto your reel. It’s a pretty straightforward operation.


1) The first step (once you’ve responsibly got rid of the old stuff) is to set your rod up as if you were fishing with it (minus a rig) – put all the sections together, and attach the reel.


2) Next, thread the end of the line through the tip ring (the one at the pointy end of the rod), and down through all the others until you reach the reel.


3) This next bit all depends on the type of reel you’re putting the line onto…….


Baitcaster/multiplier type reels: Thread the line straight through the hole for the level-wind mechanism (bit on the front of the reel, mounted on a bar, moves from side-to-side so the line goes onto the reel evenly). Bring the line around the bar in the middle, and tie it in place with an ARBOUR KNOT.

 To finish the job off, just reel in like you would normally… but for the first few turns you may need to hold the rod between your legs (if possible), and put your thumb on the bit tied around the bar, otherwise it just goes round and round inside the knot without doing anything….. once it’s got a few turns of line around it to hold it in place, it’s pretty straight forward from there.

Fixed-spool / Spinning type reels: To do this with one of these reels (the most popular type out there), it’s a little different due to the difference design of the reel from a multiplier / baitcaster.

First up, you need to open the bale arm (the wire rail on the front with the knobbly bit the line goes against), and you may sometimes find it easier to take the spool off the reel to start off with. I’ve found there are 2 ways to get the line attached to it. The first is to use the same Arbour knot as in the method for doing it with multiplier reels.

If you have trouble doing it that way, there’s my way of doing it…. snap a small elastic band over the spool of the reel that fits fairly tight over it, slip the line underneath it so the band holds the line against the spool, then tie the line to the elastic band with a MAHSEER KNOT, or any other knot normally used for tying Eyed hooks / Swivels.

Once that’s done, stick the spool back on the reel (if you took it off)… close the bale arm, and start reeling the line onto the spool. I usually find it helps to hold the rod between your legs while doing this, to leave the non-reeling hand free to put some tension in the line somewhere between the reel and the butt ring so the line goes on properly. It also usually helps to have a willing volunteer holding the spool the line was supplied on to put tension in it (with a pencil through the hole in the middle to act as an axle).

Keep on winding until the spool starts looking full…. but not too much, or it starts falling off the spool and tangling (and too little, and your casts can be affected). To make sure I’ve got it spot on, the trick I’ve discovered is to hold a penny flat against the line on the spool. If you’ve got enough on, the Penny should sit flat with the lip of the spool (at the front).

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