How to Spool a Spinning Reel | Step by Step Guide

  • Date: January 4, 2022

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, I receive a commission

So you’ve just bought a brand new spinning reel and you want to spool it with line. Or perhaps you need to re-spool and existing spinning reel with some new line.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to spool a spinning reel, and I will go over the whole process from start to finish, including how to spool the reel with different types of fishing line such as braid, mono, and fluorocarbon.

You can also take your reel and new line to a fishing store and if they have the right equipment they can spool your reels for you. This is usually an additional service some fishing stores will provide and will cost you money to do so.

But the spooling process is something that you can easily do yourself, so if you want to save yourself a few dollars then you can use the below as a guide on how to do it.

A few important starting points

To make the winding of the line onto your reel a much easier process you should attach the reel to one of your rods.

You should then feed the new line (or the backing line if needed first) through the first eye that is closest to the reel, no need to feed it through any more eyes than this for the process of spooling your reel.

The next super important point is to open your bail arm before you tie the line to the spool. If you do not do this then you will not be able to wind the line on.

how to spool a spinning reel

When you start winding the new line onto your reel you need to ensure there is a bit of tension on the spool containing the new line so the line is tight when being wound onto the reel. 

I usually stick a screwdriver or a pen through the center of the spool containing the new line and ask somebody to hold it, applying a bit of pressure to each side of the spool so there is tension on the line when you wind.

It is advisable to get the person holding the spool of line to wear a pair of gloves, as the friction when you start winding can make it very hot and burn the skin.

If you don’t have a second person handy to hold the new spool of line, then there are ways you can do this yourself. Read further down this article to see how this can be done.

What knot should you use to tie the line to the spool?

The best knot to use to secure your line to the spool is an Arbor knot. This is a noose-style knot that is easy to tie and provides a secure base for your line on the spool.

How to tie an arbor knot

Once you have tied the arbor knot and cut the tag end off it is advisable to stick some tape over the knot and tag so that it doesn’t stick out into the rest of the line as it is wound onto the spool.

How to spool a spinning reel with braid

It is not a good idea to put braid straight onto a spool without putting on some backing line first. Braid tends to slip on most spools (you can get some spools that are designed to accept braid without any backing, but most won’t).

I always add some backing line when using braid, and I usually use monofilament line as the backing. 

Before you start adding any backing line you should work out how much you need to add. Bare in mind that you want to be able to put enough braid on your spool so it stops just under the lip of the spool. If you put any less it can impact your casting distance. 

For example, I recently purchased a new Shimano Ultegra FC 3000 size spinning reel and I wanted to spool it with 10lb braid.

A quick look on the Shimano website told me that the 3000 Ultegra FC will hold 200 yards of 10lb braid.

It’s hard to buy 200 yards of 10lb braid on a spool, they either come in 150 yard or 300-yard options. It would have been a waste to buy 300 yards of 10lb braid line to put on the reel, which then would have left me with 100 yards of line once I had added 200 yards, which I would not have been able to do much with.

So I purchased 150 yards of 10lb braid and knew that I needed to add 50 yards of mono’ backing line.

To work out when I reached the 50 yards of backing line, I again referred to the Shimano page for the Ultegra FC and noted that the reel retrieves 35 inches of line per crank. 

There are 36 inches in 1 yard, so a quick calculation to see how many inches 50 yards would be: (50 x 36″ = 1,800″). Then divide the 1,800″ by the amount of line retrieved per crank (35″): 1,800″ / 35″ = 51.42.

So I then knew that I needed around 52 full cranks of the handle to get 50 yards of backing line onto the spool.

Once you have added the required amount of backing line to your spool, you then need to tie the braid to the backing line and continue filling up the spool with the braid.

The knot I like to use for this is the double-uni knot. It is a very strong knot and the knot isn’t too big either so it will go through the eyes on the rod easy enough if you ever get a fish taking that much line off you.

Double Uni Knot

I used all of the above metrics on my 3000 Ultegra FC and it worked out perfectly as you can see below.

*Note* – Mono line is thicker than braid so, in theory, you wouldn’t need to base the amount of mono backing line needed off the same metrics used for braid. But I always do, and it always works out perfectly. I would always prefer to have a few yards of braid left rather than be under-spooled.

Once you have added all of the braid to your spool, then you’ll need to attach a mono’ or flouro leader line to the braid so you can then attach your lures and be ready to fish. 

I use the same knot for this as I do when attaching the braid to the backing line, the double-uni knot. It is a strong knot, and I find that the knot is quite small so it passes through the eyes of the spinning rod without catching them on the way through. This is important so it doesn’t impact your casting ability.

How to spool a spinning reel with mono and flouro line

Spooling your reel with either monofilament or fluorocarbon line is a simple process as you will be using the same line all the way through, so no requirement for attaching another type of line to it as you would with braid.

The most important thing is knowing the capacity of the reel spool for the amount of mono or flouro you want to put on it.

You can find this information by going to the manufacturer’s page for your reel type and size, and then just reference the pound line you intend to spool the reel with and you will find the capacity there.

Attaching the line to the spool I always use the arbor knot as referenced earlier in this article.

How to spool a spinning reel without line twist

It is important to get your line onto the spool with minimal twist. If your line is twisted while sitting on your spool it can reduce your casting distance and also cause birds nest tangles and wind knots when using braid.

The spool on a spinning reel does not go round, the rotor and bail arm spin around the stationary spool and feed the line onto it. 

To reduce line twist when adding line to the spool you should note that the rotor spins around in an anti-clockwise motion. So you want to make sure that the line is coming off the line holder in an anti-clockwise motion as well when you wind it onto the spool.

There is also a very useful tool that you can get that is designed to eliminate line twist completely and also lets you easily spool your reel on your own.

This tool is the Piscifun Speed X. This simple yet clever tool will make spooling your reels an effortless experience, and eliminate any twist from the line on the spool. 

How do you spool a reel by yourself?

There are a few ways that you can spool your spinning reel by yourself. Here are some effective methods for doing that.

Method 1:

One very simple way of spooling your reel by yourself is to get one of your sneakers, then you push the line holder upright into the opening of the shoe.

This will then allow you to wind the line onto your reel. The sneaker applies the pressure you need onto the line holder to ensure it gets applied to the spool in a nice even fashion.

You should attach your reel to one of your spinning rods and then feed the line through the first eye closest to the reel and tie it onto the spool using the arbor knot.

Once you have done this, and the line holder containing the new line is sat upright in the opening of the show, you can then start winding the line onto the reel.

This is a very easy and effective method that allows you to spool your reel on your own, and can be used for any kind of reel also (spinning reel, baitcaster reel, spincast reel).

*Note – this will only work with the smaller 150 yards or 300 yards of line. Any bigger and the line holders won’t fit into the opening of the shoe

Method 2:

This method is one I devised at home and is another unconventional yet effective way to spool your spinning reel by yourself.

First, you need to have your reel secured to one of your fishing rods and then feed the new line through the eye closest to the reel and tie it to the spool using an Arbor knot.

Next, feed a pen / pencil through the middle of the line holder containing the new line. This will allow the line holder to spin when the pen / pencil is being held.

Now we’re going to use our feet for the next part. Insert the ends of the pen between your big toe and second toe on each foot. This will leave the line holder positioned in between your feet.

Then you just start winding the line onto your reel. You can apply a little bit of pressure on the line holder with your feet to ensure the line is applied to the spool nice and evenly.

It is advisable to wear a pair of socks when doing this so the friction from the line holder doesn’t burn your feet when winding the line onto the reel.

Method 3:

Another way to spool your spinning reel by yourself is to attach a bolt to a workbench and then stick the bolt through the center of the plastic line holder that contains your new line.

You then need to attach a nut to the bolt and tighten it up so that the line holder stays firm and the line will peel off it easily.

Make sure the line holder is positioned the right way up, so the line peels off in the same direction as the rotor on the reel goes around (usually anti-clockwise). By doing this you will reduce line twist when the line is wound onto the spool.

Attach your reel to your rod, and then feed the line through the bottom eye of the spinning rod and then tie it to the spool using an arbor knot. Now you can wind the line onto the reel. 

This is not as quick and easy to set up as the first two methods mentioned here, but if you think you will be spooling line onto your reels quite frequently then this is a solid option to consider.

Method 4:

The last method is one I have already mentioned in this article and that is using the excellent Piscifun Speed X tool. Not only will it allow you to spool your spinning reel efficiently on your own, but it will also ensure you get the line onto your spool with no line twist.

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