Our simple step by step guide on how to put line on a reel

How to put line on a reel

‘How to put line on a reel’ is a question asked by newcomers and experienced anglers alike. We have put together a guide on what is the best method for spooling line, and pitfalls to avoid!

Why bother with a new line?

Line longevity can vary depending on factors such as frequency of use, storage and care. Thus it is important to re-spool for peace of mind especially at the start of a new season.
Frequent casting and reeling in can lead to line twist, which impacts the strength and behaviour of the line.
Line materials such as Nylon monos are hygroscopic and absorb moisture. The benefits being that the material becomes very limp and pliable when wet, which is great news when spooling. The downside is that a very dry mono can often lead to brittleness. Storing your line in extreme hot or cold conditions, therefore, can impact your line significantly.
Direct sunlight or exposure to any UV light for a prolonged period can also damage the line material. So be extra careful when leaving your reels in the shed next to a window.

catching fish! the more strain the line is under, the more stretched it will become. Affecting the strength and condition.

What is line twist?

One of the primary concerns when loading line onto a fishing reel is the introduction of line twist.
All line materials display a characteristic known as memory. High memory materials are often more abrasion resistant. But are also less limp and ‘remember’ the shape of the spool. This can cause problems when Spooling the line onto your reel. For a general rule of thumb, the line should be wound onto the reel in the same direction as it exits the packaging.
Line spooled onto a reel in the opposite direction will twist. This then leads to tight coils forming as the line exits the spool causing tangles at the reel and rod tip. Something that every fisherman would like to avoid!

How much line should I put on a reel?

Over-spooling can lead to line falling off the spool and forming a dreaded ‘bird’s nest’. Especially when coupled with a twisted line. Something you want to avoid especially if you have cast out and have a potential bite around the corner.
Too little line has obvious drawbacks if wanting to fish at distance. Or expecting a fish to take you further than your line will allow. A majority of modern reels will have spool capacity per line
diameter stamped on the spool, or at least in the technical specs. This helps to load the perfect amount of line onto your reel without over or under-spooling.

Visit our article on the best fishing line for guidance on what line is best for you.

What is line lay?

For a standard setup, the distribution of line across the spool should be equal. Modern reels will come configured to do exactly that. Depending on the diameter of the line recommended for use, of course. For example. Using A thin line with a large carp reel designed to house large quantities of a thick line may lead to an uneven lay.
For thinner materials such as braid, some anglers prefer a lay with a bias towards the back of the reel. This helps with casting and lessens the chance of backlash, or ‘birds nest’.
You can adjust line lay through washers on the spindle of a reel to suit personal preference. Manufacturer handbooks will have instructions on how to do this, as all reels vary in design.

Disposal of old fishing line

Big clumps of unwanted line can be hazardous to the environment and wildlife. Thus it is important to dispose of responsibly.
Many tackle shops offer a recycling bin for all line materials. This is then recycled in bulk or sent back to a manufacturer. Some manufacturers even let you mail your old line back to them directly!
If you are unable to recycle via a shop or a manufacturer, cut the line up into small pieces and add to your household recyclingThis will ensure no wildlife becomes entangled in last seasons mono.

Which method of loading line onto a reel is best?

How you spool line onto your reel is pretty much a personal preference. There are many thoughts and opinions in the fishing world on how best to achieve. We have field tested a quite a few and detailed what worked best for us here!

Equipment list

  1. Reel
  2. Rod Butt
  3. Spool of line
  4. Bucket of warm water (Optional)
  5. Sharp scissors

Knot list

Arbor Knot


  1.  Unless Backfilling, remove the old line from your reel. Remove the spool from the reel and wrap the old line around a piece of cardboard to help with safe disposal. Throw the cardboard and old line into the recycling.
  2.  To make sure the new line is nice and supple, soak the new spool in a bucket of warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes. This is not compulsory, but we find this aids the spooling of the new line. Add a small amount of washing up liquid to remove any dirt and grime the line may of picked up during manufacturing.
  3. Secure your reel to the rod butt, and thread the new line through the but ring.
  4. flip the reel bail arm on.
  5. Tie the end of the new spool of line onto your reel spool using an Arbor Knot.
  6. Flip the bail arm off, so you are ready to start reeling on the line.
  7. Hold the line against the rod to apply a small amount of tension. The new line should still be in the warm water.
  8. Rotate the reel handle 10 times so the line starts to wrap around the spool.
  9. Release the tension slightly and see how the line behaves. If the line starts to twist, flip the new line over in the bucket. Repeat step 6-7.
  10. Rotate the reel handle for a further 20 turns and check the lay of the line.
  11. If the line lay is uneven, or not how you would like, consult your handbook on how to adjust the washers accordingly.
  12. Continue to rotate the reel handle and ensure you do not overfill the spool.
  13. Once happy with the amount, cut the line with sharp scissors and clip to the reel spool.
  14. If you have any line left over, place a rubber band over the packing spool to re-use at a later date. many mainline materials make excellent hook links, so it is worth saving even the smallest amounts.

Reference guide (click and save!)


Ensuring line is sitting perfectly on your reel is a fundamental yet critical part of fishing. Introduce a few of the pitfalls above, and you could be needlessly setting yourself up for hours of unpicking knots, lost fish and extra expenditure! Hopefully, by following our guide, you will avoid these unwanted experiences and keep your line strong and healthy for the season ahead.