How to Spool New Fishing Line Onto a Reel

You should replace your fishing line at least once per season. If you fish frequently, you may have to change it even more often. If you replace line incorrectly, you may have problems with line twist. Here's how to do it right.


Take the old line off the reel, then run the end of the new line up through the rod guides to the reel and tie it to the spool of the reel. Put a pencil into the new spool and have somebody hold it. Or use a reel filling station that you can buy at a tackle shop to hold the spool of line. To avoid twists, make sure the line feeds off the top of the supply reel.

Spinning reel

1. For a spinning reel (the kind that hangs down underneath the rod), you place the supply reel on the floor. You need to determine whether to place it label side up, or down, in order to minimize introducing line twists during the loading process. This needs to be done for every supply reel, as the direction the line has been loaded can vary from reel to reel, even among the same brands of line. The following 3 steps detail how to determine which which side of the supply reel should face up.


2. Look down at the top of your spinning reel, and turn the handle as if you are retrieving the line. Note the direction that the bail rotates around the spool. Most spinning reels rotate in a clockwise direction.


3. Examine your supply spool, and find the end of the line (the lead). It may be secured by tape. Orient the supply spool so that the lead is at the top and the label is facing you.


4. If the lead is coming off the spool in a clockwise direction (i.e., if the free end of the line were an arrow, it would be point to your right), you want to place the supply reel on the floor label side up. Otherwise, you want to place it on the floor label side down. If your spinning reel turns in a counter-clockwise direction, you want to reverse this.


5. Run the end of the new line up through the rod guides to the reel, and tie onto the spool, making sure to lift the bail arm first so it will loop line on as you reel. Once the line is tied onto the spool lower the bail arm.


6. Hold the line between two fingers to keep it taut as you reel a couple of feet onto the reel.


7. Stop reeling and dip the rod toward the spool on the floor. If the line twists onto itself, turn the spool over before putting more line on. If the line is okay, go ahead and finish.


8. For a spinning real, a good way to spool the line is to take a soft cotton cloth and hold the line in the cloth at about the first eye. Apply a good amount of tension, so the line does not spool loose, and you can real as fast as you like.


9. Fill the reel only until it is about a quarter inch from the rim.


10. For a closed-faced reel (like the Zebco 33, etc), fill it the same way you do a spinning reel, except make sure you run the line through the hole in the reel face before tying it to the reel spool. Screw the face back on before reeling on the new line.


  • To avoid loops when you fish, keep tension on the line whenever you are reeling. If you need to, hold the line between your thumb and finger in front of the reel.
  • If you do get a lot of twists in your line, take the lure off and just let a lot of line out behind the boat as you go. This will take the loops out.
  • If you don't have a boat, just take off the lure and tie your line to a post. Walk away, spooling out line behind you. Now have somebody cut the line free so you can reel it back on, but be sure to keep tension on it with your fingers.
  • Take the old line to a line recycling bin. You can find these at most tackle shops.
  • If you are using braided line, make sure you put cloth tape or a layer of mono on the reel first. Otherwise the braid will slip around the spool and you won't be able to set the hook.
  • If you're a real tight-wad, you might want to take the old line off onto a different spool, then re-spool it on back wards. That way the used part is down by the bottom and fresher line is up where you use it.
  • To attach the new line to the spool, you can tie a regular square knot, but make sure you get the knot snug against the spool so it doesn't slip. First aid tape on the reel spool really helps with the slippage problem.
  • Closed-face reels don't hold much line, so make sure to unscrew the cover now and then to check how much you've got on there.


  • NEVER dispose of old line by throwing it on the ground or into the water. Birds and fish get tangled in old line and die.
  • Don't bite line with your teeth. It can chip or break them.
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