How To Fill A Spinning Reel With Monofilament Or Braided Line


by Bill Laney

Spinning reels are currently the most popular of all types of fishing reels, and are used extensively by newbies and experienced fishermen alike. They are extremely versatile, and can be adapted to almost any kind of fishing.

And not least of all, they are also usually quite affordable, as you can see in our reviews on the best spinning reel under $100, as well as the best spinning reel under $50.

However, in order to get the most out of them, it’s essential to understand how to spool a reel correctly. If you learn how to do this properly from the beginning, you’ll be able to avoid many hassles during your fishing career, like constant line twists, foul ups, and bird’s nests.

Also, if you’re trying to learn how to put line on an open face reel, you’re in the right place, since this is a synonym for “spinning reel.”

Follow the steps below to get line spooled on to your reel correctly.

How to spool your spinning reel: detailed step-by-step instructions

The following instructions apply to monofilament or fluorocarbon line – if you’re using braid, read the section at the end of this article.

Before you start, it helps a lot to familiarize yourself with all the spinning reel parts. Once you are ready to start spooling a reel, you’ll need these four pieces of equipment:

  • Spinning reel
  • Fishing line
  • Fishing rod
  • Line cutter (or scissors)

First, lay the spool of fishing line flat on a table top, and hold your reel over the spool. Turn the handle, and note if the bail is rotating in the same direction as the line is coming off the spool. If not, turn the spool over to face the other way. This will ensure that the line is coming off the spool in the same direction as it’s being wound on to the spool, which is essential in order to avoid line twisting.

Next, fasten the reel onto the rod handle, and lay it down on a table top with the bail arm open. Then pass the line from the spool through the first eye of the fishing rod, and tie it on to the spool of the spinning reel with a double overhand knot. After tying the knot, cut off the extra line extending from the knot.

Now you’re ready to start spooling the line onto the reel. Close the bail arm, and pick up the rod. Start reeling in line, while using your other hand to hold the line between the reel and the first eye of the rod, thus applying tension during the process. This also helps to avoid twisting, and allows you to fill more line onto your reel.

During this process, the filler spool should lay flat on the table top, with line coming off it on to the spinning reel. Keep on filling until the spool is filled within one eighth of an inch of its edge. Now cut off the line, and you’re done spooling line on to your spinning reel!

If you learn how to put line on a reel properly as described here, this can make a big difference to improve its performance out on the water. Plus you’ll enjoy using it with more confidence to cast farther, and retrieve your lure with fewer line foul ups.

See also: the most common spinning reel problems

Best fishing line for spinning reels

Before you can learn how to spool a spinning reel, it’s important to make sure you choose the right line for it. In most cases, you’ll find the recommended line capacity written on the spool of the spinning reel.

The line capacity refers to the optimal pound strength of the line to use on it, plus the length that it can hold. The optimal line strength you should choose depends on the size of your reel, and you can refer to our spinning reel size chart to select the best one.

In addition to choosing the correct strength, you also need to decide on what type of line to spool on to your spinning reel:  monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braid.

See also: is braid good for spinning reels?

Each line type has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Monofilament is a single stranded line type and tends to float on top of the water, which makes it ideal for topwater fishing, fishing with bobbers, or floating baits. It has quite a lot of elasticity, which can be a problem if you are trying to hook a fish at a great distance, since the line stretch will reduce your ability to set the hook efficiently. On the other hand, this same property can make mono great for fighting big fish on light spinning tackle, since the elasticity will help to prevent breakage.
  • Braid consists of several lines twisted around each other into a tight braid. This makes it extremely strong and durable, which is ideal for battling large fish. In addition, it doesn’t stretch and sinks quite well, making it perfect for fishing at a great distance, or in deep water. However, it has a lot higher visibility than the other two types of line, which can be a problem in clear water. One way to get around this issue is to use a mono or fluoro leader tied to the main braid.
  • Fluorocarbon is another type of single stranded line. Its biggest advantage is that it is virtually invisible, making it ideal for catching shy fish in clear water. It also sinks more readily than mono line, which is better for bottom fishing, and it doesn’t have a lot stretch, making it easier to set the hook.

See also: how often should you respool your fishing reel?

If you’re planning to do finesse fishing, you should use mono or fluoro, though you could also use braid with a leader. If you’re interested in lightweight applications check out our review on the best ultralight spinning reel

How to spool a spinning reel with braid

This process is similar to spooling with mono, but there are a couple of additional steps you need to take.

First of all, you’ll need both a monofilament line and braided line, since you’ll fill the first part of your spool with mono, and then fill the rest with braid. So, start as above, and use a double overhand knot to tie mono line to your spool, and start filling it until it’s about half full.

See also: spinning reel maintenance tips

Next, cut the monofilament line, and use an Albright knot to tie it to the end of the braided line (view this YouTube video for detailed instructions).

Once you’ve tied the two lines together, continue filling your spool with braid. In order to avoid ‘rope burn’ during the spooling process, you can run the line through a wet rag.

Keep on spooling until there’s about a 1/8th inch gap remaining at the edge of the spool. Cut off the end and you’re done and ready to start fishing.

Finally, if you’ve been following the debate of baitcaster vs spinning reel pros and cons, you may also want to check out how to spool a baitcaster, to see how it compares, or go back to our main category page on fishing reels.

Additional resources:

Bass Fishing Tips