How to Put Fishing Line on a Spinning Reel

How to Put Fishing Line on a Spinning Reel

Are you having trouble putting fishing line on a spinning reel and want step by step instructions on how to get the job done? Whether you’re an angler just getting started or have years of experience, it can be difficult to get it right every time. That’s especially true if you only use one rod for a long period of time without needing to change the line so frequently. 

However, changing your spinning reel periodically is a good idea to avoid weaknesses in the line when you are fighting with a powerful fish. Once you get the hang of putting on new fishing line, you won’t see it as a big chore or hassle. Read onwards for step by step instructions on how anyone can quickly learn and complete this process. 

How to Choose the Best Fishing Line

The most common finishing lines are monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided. They are the only 3 fishing lines you need to know about unless you are going to do some form of specialized fishing. Here is a breakdown of their pros and cons:


This is one of the more popular fishing lines that is not visible, provides no stretch and a decent amount of resistance to abrasion. You are going to be catching fish of up to 20 pounds with the basic fishing line. However, you need to consider the thickness of the line too. You can get away with 25+ pound catches under specific conditions. Too much resistance at this weight and the line could snap, so you need to be non-aggressive with your approach when reeling in the fish.

The invisible nature of the line is advantageous if you are going to catch fish in clear water. Fish can get scared away when they see your line. Therefore, clear lakes and rivers require an invisible line so fluorocarbon line ends up being a great choice. 


Are you an angler that enjoys pitching and flipping? Then you’ll want to opt for a braided fishing reel because they are unlikely to break due to the strength. Their biggest downside is the visibility in water. This drawback can be a difference maker when fishing in clear water. In that scenario you may want to go with a thick fluorocarbon fishing line since they go visually undetected by fish. 

Braided lines are best when the water is dirty and there is a heavy mat, but that can be tough on the line. In such water the abrasion factor comes into play, which is why you need the extra strength of braided lines. 

Most braided lines are built to catch fish at around 60-100 pounds – but again it depends on the strength of the line that you have chosen. Check the specifications to get an idea of what fish you can catch. 


Monofilament can be good for all levels of fishermen and is the best choice for beginners where the room for error can be larger. However, monofilament fishing line also has some downsides.

First, the abrasion resistance isn’t great so the line can snap under too much strain – not ideal when you are trying to reel a fish in. You need to make sure that your drag is set on your reel to avoid too much tension.

Next, there is not as much stretch or give to the line which means you may have a harder time catching powerful game fish. These fish are capable of going on big runs when they are hooked. Under too much strain, the line will simply snap. Be sure to check out our other article about the best monofilament lines in order to maximize your success.

The low price is the biggest reason why you would buy monofilament. It’s a good recommendation for anglers that are just getting started and don’t plan on catching any serious fish to start with. However, don’t wait to upgrade to braided or fluorocarbon for too long since that’s where you can expect to do your best fishing. 

How to put Fishing Line on a Spinning Reel – 4 Easy Steps

The process of putting on the line is the same regardless of what fishing line type you’re working with. Once you learn with one type of line, the methodology can be applied with the others. Here is a step by step process: 

Step 1 – Create a solid knot

To start, run the line through each of the holes of your rod and wrap the tag end a few times around the spool. Double check to make sure that you have actually put the line through each hole – getting this wrong means you may need to repeat a few of the steps before you can begin fishing. 

Next, tie a knot at the reel that will not come loose easily. The knot must be firm so that it doesn’t come undone, which could undo all of the hard work you’re going to be doing in the following steps. Also, create an over-hand knot after the initial one to make sure that it’s a secure setup. When cutting the tag end, leave about a quarter of an inch so that the knot doesn’t come loose when you tug on it in order to secure. 

To avoid a line twist you need to lay the line in an anti-clockwise direction. That’s because the reel typically spins in a clockwise direction. Also, keep the spool flat with the label upwards so that you can clearly see how much is being used. 

Step 2 – What is your spinning direction?

To figure out the spinning direction of your reel make sure the spool is flat on the ground to aid the process of unwinding in the spinning reel direction. Do it slowly so that you get a uniform spool once the job is complete. 

You’ll find that the spool will unwind in the clockwise direction if the reel is winding up clockwise too. Put this advice into practice if it doesn’t make sense now. You’ll see that it’s not as complicated as it might sound. 

Step 3 – Turning the reel

Once you have made the knot and understand the direction of your spin, it’s time to turn the reel so that the line is transferred over from the spool. As mentioned previously, you must turn the reel slowly to get a nice smooth line without twists. By gradually turning the reel, you will minimize the chances of twists. Any twists that do inevitably show up, will be small in size. 

Give the line some slack so that you can check for twists. If the line easily unspools out of the reel when you give it some slack, then it’s a problem. You need to go back and re-spool to ensure this doesn’t happen. Therefore, you will need to check regularly to avoid having to go back large distances once you notice an error. To get the best roll possible at the end, you need to have patience and not rush this crucial step. Going too fast might mean that you have to go back all the way to step 1 and start again with another spool. 

Step 4 – Use the right amount

It would be disastrous if you did not use enough line since you’ll be hindered in terms of how far away you can cast. Imagine trying to cast to the other side of the river bank where all the fish are, but you could only get half-way there. You’ll be very frustrated and the only course of action would be to move or complete the steps above with a brand new spool. 

Also, you might get your rod caught on something and need to cut the line. This can happen frequently in some fishing spots – especially if you are not familiar with the lake or river and keep getting caught on vegetation. The point is to apply more spool than you think is required. 

Check to see if your spool has a mark that helps you know when you have sufficiently filled up your spool to the right amount. Beginners should buy spools with this mark since it takes the added guesswork out of the process. 

As a rule of thumb fill the spool to about 3-4mm away from the top. This should be enough to provide a good amount of line for any cast. Remember that when you add too much spool to the reel, it can potentially slip out. Fishing in such circumstances can be a nightmare so limit the amount of spool added. Remember that it isn’t a major problem to remove line as you can always cut spool away, but you can never add additional line back. 

Q & A

Q. I’m a beginner – what’s the best way to put fishing line on?

A. The process is about the same for beginners as it is for experienced anglers. If you are having a hard time following the steps above, then it’s worthwhile watching a video on the topic. You’ll find plenty of excellent tutorial videos that can visually show you the step by step process. It’s a good alternative to text-based instructions.

Q. How often should I change my fishing line?

A. This depends on the quality of the line and how you have stored it while not in use. Good quality line can last double the length as a poor quality one. However, consider how often you use the line. Frequently used line deteriorates a lot faster so you’ll need to change more frequently. 

As you gain experience as an angler you’ll get a feel for when a fishing line needs to be changed. You can perform regular stress tests to see how much force the line can withstand. Once the line begins to snap more easily it’s time to change. Don’t store fishing line in direct sunlight as the UV rays will degrade the line. Saltwater can also assist in deteriorating the line over time.

Q. What fishing line thickness should I choose?

A. Thicker fishing lines are stronger, which means they are less likely to snap and they can withstand a heavier fish. However, as you increase thickness, fish can be increasingly more aware of the line and get scared away more easily. Choose a line that’s too thick and you’ll scare away every fish you try to catch, which is going to drastically decrease your chances. 

Monofilament is considered as the thickest type of line while braided is the thinnest. However, they vary too based on what the manufacturer has specified on the packaging. Fluorocarbon is a good choice is most cases so go with that when in doubt. 

Q. Does fishing line color matter?

A. Fish can see your line if it’s too bright or the wrong color in the environment that it’s used. Clear fishing lines are the best because they are mostly invisible to the fish, which means they will not get scared away. It’s the choice that’s used by the majority of experienced and amateur anglers for most of their outings. 

You can also use green and blue line without getting detected by fish if you have matched the line up correctly with the current environment. For instance, green line is great in the water if there is a lot of vegetation and blue line works well in water where there is a blue tint. 

You can also choose a bright yellow to artificially increase visibility. This is handy when you want to see the line in environments where it would be difficult to do so otherwise. It’s only applicable in specific circumstances, but it’s good to know that it’s an available option.

Q. I’m having a hard time casting my line, what could be the problem?

A. There are many factors at play for difficulty casting the fishing line. You might have a lot of knots in the reel, which does not allow for a uniform cast. Also, consider the thickness of the line, because as thickness increases so does the casting difficulty. 


Now that you know how to put fishing line on a spinning reel, it’s time to practice! Be patient and you’ll get the hang of it after a few tries. It’s straightforward when you follow each step correctly and don’t rush the process. 

Also, make sure you choose the right fishing line for your needs. It plays a big role in increasing the chances that you can hook and catch the fish. Choosing the wrong line could potentially sabotage your chances of catching fish from the outset.

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