How Often Should You Respool Your Fishing Reel? (Explained)
UPDATED 17 NOVEMBER 2021
by Robert Ceran
High quality fishing line is one of the most important parts of your fishing tackle, as it is the only thing that connects you to a fish that you’ve just hooked. And if you hook a big fish, you need to be sure that your line is up to the job of landing it safely.
However, if you’re one of the anglers who neglects to respool their reels regularly, chances are that your line will become damaged over time, and this can cause it to break when it is put to the test by a trophy sized fish.
So when should you respool your fishing reel?
Here’s the quick answer:
If you spool your fishing reel with braided line, respool it every 1 to 2 years on average (or sooner if it gets damaged). If you spool your fishing reel with monofilament or fluorocarbon, respool it every 3 to 6 weeks if you use it frequently.
Having said that, there are a lot of nuances to this topic, so the exact answer depends not only on the type fishing line you spool on your reel, but also on the fishing application that you use it for. And while the basic principles of how often you should respool a fishing reel hold true across different types of reels, there are also key differences between them.
Now let’s take a look at the details, to help you understand what works best for your purposes.
When should you respool a spinning reel?
When you should respool your spinning reel depends on the type of line that you use:
- Braided line: every 1 to 2 years
- Monofilament: every 3 to 6 weeks
- Fluorocarbon: every 3 to 6 weeks
Why do you have to respool mono and fluro more frequently than braid? The reason for this is that these types of fishing line are susceptible to damage by UV light. In other words, when you go out fishing, exposure to sunlight degrades monofilament and fluorocarbon, but has very little effect on braid. Also, both mono and fluoro have memory, which means they get kinked more easily if they get tangled, or even form a birdsnest.
See also: can you use braid on spinning reels?
And while you can try to push the limit, and extend the time you use your fishing line, the longer you do so, the more likely it is that your line will fail at a crucial moment, and you’ll end up losing your personal best fish shortly after you hook it.
So if you’re serious about fishing, then respool your spinning reels frequently if using mono or fluoro, and you’ll be ready for that trophy sized fish. Keep in mind that fishing line is one of the cheapest parts of your tackle, so skimping out on it isn’t really worth it.
The only exception to this is if you use your fishing tackle infrequently, in which case you can spool a spinning reel with fresh mono or fluoro every 6 months or so. But make sure to store your reels in a place that’s protected from direct sunlight, to extend the lifespan of your fishing line.
You might be wondering, what is different about how often you need to respool a spinning reel compared to a baitcasting reel? Well, a spinning reel has a stationary spool, and the line basically ‘uncoils’ from it during the casting process. And if there is only a small amount of line left on the spool, that generates more friction as the line rubs against the rim of the spool during the casting process, resulting in shorter casting distances.
So if you want to maintain maximum casting efficiency with your spinning reel, you need to keep it spooled close to maximum capacity. If you need to cut off some line because it gets damaged (or maybe because your hook gets snagged), you may need to respool your reel even more frequently than suggested above.
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When should you respool a baitcasting reel?
The frequency of respooling a baitcaster reel depends on the line that your use:
- Braided line: every 2 to 3 years
- Monofilament: every 3 to 6 weeks
- Fluorocarbon: every 3 to 6 weeks
Compared to spinning reels, you can keep braid longer on bait casting reels before you need to respool them. The reason for this is that the casting efficiency of a baitcaster is less affected by how much line is on the spool, and you can cast effectively with it even when the spool is almost half empty.
But similar to what we discussed for spinning reels, monofilament and fluorocarbon lines on baitcasters are degraded by exposure to sunlight, so you need to change them much more frequently than braid. If you fish 3 times a week or more, you should aim to spool a baitcasting reel with fresh mono or fluoro every 3 to 6 weeks. And if you fish less frequently, you can get away by respooling every 6 months or so.
Always keep in mind that your line can get damaged during use, for example when you catch a big fish, and that can cause it to lose integrity faster than expected. So always make sure to check your line for signs of deterioration, and if you see any, respool your reel as soon as possible.
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When should you respool a trolling reel?
Trolling reels need to be respooled more frequently than other types of fishing reels. There are three main reasons for this.
Firstly, if you’re using a line counter reel to determine the depth at which your lures are trolled, the line counting mechanism only works reliably as long as its spool is filled close to maximum capacity with line. So if you lose 10% or your line or more, make sure to respool your reel as soon as possible.
Secondly, if you’re using lead core lines, the lead core tends to start breaking up after a couple of months due to wear and tear, and this makes it harder to use due to kinks in the line. So even if the lead core line is still strong enough to land big fish, you’ll probably want to replace it at that point.
Finally, you frequently need to let out very long lengths of line when you’re trolling (100 yards or more is common), and obviously you need to have enough line spooled on your reel in order to do this effectively.
So if you’re doing a lot of trolling, you should probably respool your reels every 1 to 2 weeks to keep them fully functional.
Does Fishing line get old?
Yes absolutely. Monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines age when exposed to sunlight, and all types of fishing line are degraded by friction, kinks, and other kinds of damage sustained during use. So as soon as you start using your newly spooled fishing reel, the clock starts ticking on how long you can fish with it, before you need to respool it with a fresh line.
How to tell if fishing line is bad
There are several ways to tell if your fishing line is bad.
If you’re using monofilament or fluorocarbon, the best way to check the integrity of the line is by running your fingers along it. If the line has been damaged, you’ll feel rough areas, or even small nicks and kinks in the line. If you do, then it’s best to remove that part of the line. If you come across this kind of damage regularly, probably one of the line guides of your rod has a notch or crack in it, which damages the line as it rubs against it.
If you’re using braided line, hold it up to the light, and check if it looks frayed. If yes, you’ll see small strands sticking out from the main line, which indicates that it has been damaged. You can also run your fingers along the line, to check for rough areas.
When it comes to how often you should respool your fishing reels, it’s better to err on the side of caution. That way you can be confident your line is up to the task of landing a trophy fish.
Did you know that professional bass anglers respool their reels every day during a tournament? While that’s definitely not necessary for most amateur fishermen, it does drive home the point that you should make sure your tackle is strong enough to handle big fish.
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