How Much Backing on a Fly Reel? What is Fly Line Backing?

How Much Backing on a Fly Reel What is Fly Line Backing
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You will find many internet guides and fishermen that will tell you that your reel doesn’t need fly line backing at all. That adventurous bunch doesn’t include me, so I’d rather be cautious than sorry. In my opinion, having some support is preferable to boasting about the enormous fish you might have caught if your reel had enough line.

This brings up the current hot topic: How much backing is there on a fly reel? The truth is that there are several correct answers to this question, and the explanation goes into more detail than just a number. I’ve put together this collection of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to assist you get the facts about fly line backing straight and to dispel any common misconceptions.

What Is Fly Line Backing?

Fly Line Backing

Fly line backing is a length of thin, strong line that is attached to the fly reel before the fly line. It serves as a reserve, allowing anglers to land large or fast-swimming fish that may take a significant amount of line during a fight. If a fish is rushing away rapidly, you can use fly line backing to prolong the mainline. Because the backup line is smaller, your fly reel will have more room, which you may use to land a bigger fish.

Do You Need Backing On A Fly Reel?

Yes, having backing on a fly reel is crucial, especially when targeting larger or stronger fish. If a fish takes a long run, your fly line may not be sufficient, and having backing ensures that you have enough line to handle the situation.

Envision a powerful salmon snagging your fly and compelling you to pursue it. The river is large with a swift stream. When the fish peels into your fly line, you’ll need backup. That’s what a backing line for fly fishing is. It increases the length of your fly line overall and acts as a safety net in case you lose a fish.

What Kinds of Fly Line Backing Materials Are There?

There are several materials used for fly line backing. According to its substance, the backing may be classified into two categories technically, Dacron, gel-spun polyethylene (GSP), and braided spectra. Dacron is a common and affordable choice, while GSP and braided spectra offer higher strength and less stretch. Here we have explained both categories in detail.

1. Dacron Backing

Dacron Backing

Polyethylene terephthalate, sometimes known as dacron, is a heat-sensitive plastic polymer. Plastic clothing, accessories, and water bottles are also made using it.

The most popular and ideal fly reel backing for freshwater and most saltwater fishing is dacron.


  • It is economical


  • It poses a risk to the ecosystem
  • Due to its bigger diameter, it may crowd your reel

2. Gel Spun Poly Backing

Gel Spun Poly Backing

Gel Spun, owing to its long-chain orientation, poly backing, also known as ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, has a high strength structure. The fact that automobile airbags and bulletproof vests are made of the same material speaks volumes about how strong it is.

Use its strength while battling a swift and powerful fish in open seas.


  • It is strong enough to tackle challenging species
  • It takes up less room since the diameter is smaller


  • It isn’t as economical

Fly Reel Backing: How Much Backing Is There?

Moving on to our primary query, how much line backing on a fly reel is sufficient to do the task? And as far as your reel will allow, the solution is quite simple. 

However, it’s not as easy as it seems. Both loading the backing and making room for your primary fly line are required. Usually, adding backing to three-quarters of your spool ensures that your reel won’t become clogged when you insert your fly line. Before you get the quantity just perfect, it can take a few tries. However, bear in mind that your fly line should not come into contact with the metal guards around the fly reel spools.

This list of particular weight fly reels and species might help you choose an accurate amount of backing to place on a fly reel if you’re still looking for a guide.

How Much Backing On A 3 Weight Fly Reel?

One of the smallest fly reel sizes is the three-weight. They work well for capturing smaller trout and panfish when backed with 25 to 50 yards of 12 pounds.

How Much Backing On A 5wt Fly Reel?

For trout, 5wt fly reels work well. They might require up to 100 yards of backing weighing 20 pounds.

How Much Backing On A 6wt Fly Reel?

The size of a 6wt fly reel is not much different from a 5wt one. Thus, the same lengths of backing—or fifty yards more—will work.

How Much Backing On A 7wt Fly Reel?

Giant trout and steelhead are good uses for 7-weight fly reels. More than 150 yards of 20-pound backing should be used to fill them.

How Much Backing On A 8wt Fly Reel?

You will need 250 yards of 30 pounds of backing line for large carp and other larger fish that you can capture with an 8wt fly reel.

How Much Backing For Trout Fishing?

For trout fishing, a 5wt reel with 100 to 150 yards of backing is often sufficient. However, if you’re targeting larger trout in rivers with strong currents or fishing in areas where larger fish might be present, having more backing is advisable.

Less than 50 feet and 12 pounds will suffice if the trout is little. However, you’ll need around 20 pounds of backing and 100 feet for medium-to-large fish.

How Much Backing For Bonefish?

Bonefish are enormous and powerful. For these, you’ll need around 250 yards of 30-pound backing. Investing in a poly spun backing might also be wise.

How Much Backing On A Saltwater Fly Reel?

It mostly relies on the type of fish you are looking for. For the majority of shallow inshore fishing conditions, carry a minimum of 175 yards of 20 pounds of backing with you. 

More prolonged ocean fishing calls for a minimum 300-yard backing of 30 pounds. Furthermore, since most large water gamefish, such as marlin and tuna, can dive deep and catch a lot of fish, a gel-spun backing is essential.

Do Colors of the Fly Reel Backing Matter?

Functionally, color is meaningless; the only benefit of a vividly colored backing showing through fly reel ports is that it looks striking. You are free to select any color that goes well with your fly reel or that you want.

On a fly reel, where does the backing go?

The first item to place in your fly reel is the backing. Generally, the sequence is as follows: fly hook, fly backing, fly fishing leader, fly tippet, and main fly line.

How Do I Attach My Fly Reel Backing?

Wrap your spool in an arbor knot. For the knot to stay in place, start reeling gently. To provide traction, you can also apply double-sided tape on the spool. After wrapping it all the way around, secure the main fly line with a nail knot.


Can I use a regular fishing line as backing for my fly reel?

While it’s technically possible, it’s not recommended. Regular fishing line tends to stretch more, and its diameter might not fit the reel’s capacity properly.

How do I attach backing to my fly reel?

Backing is typically attached to the reel using an Arbor knot. Ensure it’s secured tightly to prevent slippage.

Do I need backing if I’m only fishing for small trout?

While you may not need as much backing for small trout, having some is still advisable for unexpected situations or if you hook into a larger fish.


Having the right amount of backing on your fly reel is crucial for successful fly fishing. The choice of material and quantity depend on the reel size, target species, and fishing conditions. Always consider the strength and diameter of the backing to ensure it complements your fly line and reel.

I’m sure I must have answered a good deal of your fly line backing questions. Please share any additional information you may have in the comments section below.

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