How To Set Up A Fly Reel? | Setting Up A Fly Reel

How To Set Up A Fly Reel?
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Setting up a fly reel is an essential step in preparing for fly fishing. Before going on a fishing trip, buying the right fly reel and rod isn’t the only thing you need to do. The procedure of setting up a fly reel cannot be skipped. If someone is doing it for the first time, there are a few methods and tactics that can be too much to handle.

Therefore, if you’re new too, this post will walk you through the entire fly reel setup procedure and provide clear definitions for popular terms. So acquire your materials and begin going!

What You will Need to Set Up a Fly Reel?

In relation to supplies, the following is a list of items you’ll require for your fly reel setup:

  1. Fly Reel: Choose a reel that matches the weight of your fly rod.
  2. Fly Line: Match the line weight to your rod and reel specifications.
  3. Backing: Braided Dacron or similar material to fill the reel spool and provide extra line capacity.
  4. Leader: Tapered monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to connect the fly line to the fly.
  5. Flies: Choose flies based on the target species and the fishing conditions.
  6. Rod and Reel Combo: Ensure compatibility between the rod, reel, and line weights.
  7. Tippet: Small spool of 5X tippet
  8. Scissors or Clippers: Scissors or clippers will also be used.

Only the most fundamental items are included in the list above. Although there are many ostentatious extras available, the fly fishing reel setup may be simplified and completed more quickly. You can conduct your own online research on their behalf.

I’ve also written a piece about choosing the best fly reel if you need one. I’ll start with the many kinds of fly lines and how to select one for the time being.

Here Are The Top 9 Best Fly Fishing Reels

Image Product Name Amazon
Okuma Helios Machined Aluminum Anodized Frame Fly Reel Okuma Helios Machined Aluminum Anodized Frame Fly Reel Check Price
Pflueger Automatic Fly Fishing Reel Pflueger Automatic Fly Fishing Reel Check Price
Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel, Multipurpose Fly Reel Redington Behemoth Fly Fishing Reel, Multipurpose Fly Reel Check Price
Tica T-Series Veteran Large Arbor Fly Reel Tica T-Series Veteran Large Arbor Fly Reel Check Price
Redington Zero Fly Fishing Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout, Clicker Drag System Redington Zero Fly Fishing Reel, Lightweight Design for Trout, Clicker Drag System Check Price
Hatch Outdoors Finatic 9 Plus Machined Fly Fishing Reel Hatch Outdoors Finatic 9 Plus Machined Fly Fishing Reel Check Price
Ross Colorado Fly Reel Ross Colorado Fly Reel Check Price
Hardy Wide Spool Perfect Fly Fishing Reel Hardy Wide Spool Perfect Fly Fishing Reel Check Price
Galvan Rush Light Reel Galvan Rush Light Reel Check Price

A Concise Overview Of Fly Fishing Lines:

Different Kinds Of Fly Lines

There are two fundamental kinds: 

  • A line that floats that floats
  • A line that is sinking

Floating lines occur more frequently.

Taper Of The Fly Lines

The taper is the progressive change in weight over the length of the fly line.

There are two typical kinds:

  • The line’s thickest or heaviest portion in a forward position is the weight forward
  • The central segment of the double taper is the heaviest
  • The most popular kind is the weight-forward taper.

How Should a Fly Fishing Reel Be Set Up?

Setting up a fly reel is the real work to be done once you have mastered the fundamentals of fly lines and other gear. This fly line setup graphic will aid in providing a quick explanation of the procedure:

I’ll be explaining how I do it to you here. There are a ton of different ways to line a fly reel that you can discover online, but I’ll tell you which one is the easiest for me. It provides the ideal fly-fishing line configuration for trout and other species. You can, however, improvise and alter it as you see fit. 

1. Attach The Backing

Backing is the first component to be added to a fly reel. The first step in setting up a fly fishing gear is loading it. Depending on your situation, the backing’s length may change. If there are any recommendations, you may find them in the fly reel handbook that comes with it. If not, a reasonable place to start would be between 100 and 150 yards. As you get more experience, you’ll learn how to adapt.

There is one regulation, though: when the backing is loaded, there should be enough space for the fly line without it being too tight and contacting the framework of the reel.

To attach the backing, wind it around the reel arbor once, then tie an arbor knot to secure the end.

arbor knot instructions

Remove any extra line by trimming it. Next, to make sure there is no line slippage, begin slowly rotating the arbor while applying the least amount of line tension. After it begins to wrap, you may apply more pressure. Additionally, you must guarantee that the backing is evenly positioned across the spool. Lastly, use scissors to cut the end.

2. Attach The Line And The Backing.

Attaching your line to a fishing pole is the next step after spooling the backing. These days, the majority of fly lines have labeled ends so you can easily tell which one to attach to the backing. The thinner end goes with the backing if that isn’t the case with your fly line. The other end has a taper and is thicker.

In addition, most lines often have loops on both ends for simple connecting. Just use a clinch knot to secure the backing, then trim off any excess.

Now reel in the line as you would have with the backing. Along the spools, the lines should spread equally and not come into contact with the top rod. Should that occur, snip off some backing and unravel the fly line.

3. Attach The Fly Line And The Leader

The leader is the final component to be added to your reel. It’s easy to attach your line and leader if they have welded loops. Similar to how you thread a needle, pass the leader’s loop through the fly line and then the leader’s free end through the fly line’s loop. Take out both lines, and presto! Your strong connection won’t get in the way of your casting.

attach fly line and the leader

If your leader is loopless, you may do the task with a simple clinch knot. If, however, you’re unlucky enough to have neither loops, you can attempt creating one on your own. All you need to do is take a three-inch length of monofilament and use an Albright knot or a nail to secure it to the fly line.


On the other hand, a perfection loop may help you create a permanent DIY loop on your fly line. Once you bind the leader as shown above, the task is complete.

fly fishing knots

4. Attach The Leader And The Tippet

The final section of the leader is typically used as the tippet by fisherman. However, once you’ve replaced the flies three or more times, that component fades out. Saving money on the more costly leader is possible by attaching a second tippet.

The Double Surgeon’s knot is the most effective method for fastening the tippet to the leader. After tying it, the final step in assembling your fly reel is complete.

5. Attach The Fly To The Tippet

Attaching the fly to the tippet is the final step in assembling your fly reel after tying a lot of knots and lines. The fly has a hook that is attached to the tippet with another basic Clinch knot.

At last, you are prepared to enter the water! Now that the fly reel is ready and loaded, all you need to do is fasten it to your fly rod and catch some fish. I’ll also explain if you are experiencing problems installing the reel on the rod. 

How To Attach A Fly Reel To A Rod?

There is much more to setting up a fly reel. It is necessary to understand how to assemble a fly rod and fasten a fly reel to it.

The foot of the fly reel is its wide base. It is the section that rests above the fly rod. In the same vein, the seat refers to the portion of the rod that holds the reel. Consider your hand orientation when installing your rod and reel. If you are right-handed, you will be casting with your right hand and reeling with your left. For lefties, it will be the other way around.

There is a little cutout next to the cork on the upper portion of the reel seat. The fixed hood is the area where the reel foot is inserted from one end. Pay attention to the cranking handle’s orientation when doing this. 

Now, screw or slide the moveable cover to lock the opposite end of the foot until the reel snaps into place. And that completes the configuration of your fly fish line!

Keeping The Fly Line in Place

Without advice on how to take care of your fly lines, I don’t think an article about setting up a rod and reel for fly fishing can be considered comprehensive. The process is not too complicated. Two soft cloths or towel pieces, some soap, and clean water are all you need.

  • Your fly lines should be submerged in a pail of soapy water.
  • After a few minutes of soaking, remove them.
  • Now use a little piece of cloth to wipe the lines all the way across.
  • Next, use clean water to rinse the lines.
  • Lastly, use a dry cloth to wipe them off by dragging it from one end to the other.


Can I use any fly line with my reel?

No, you should match the fly line weight to the specifications of your rod and reel.

How much backing do I need?

Typically, fill the reel spool with enough backing to leave about 1/8 inch of space from the spool rim when the fly line is added.

How often should I clean my fly line?

Clean the fly line after each use and apply line dressing periodically for optimal performance.


Although setting up a fly reel might appear difficult at first, with the right instructions and methods, it’s a rather easy operation that only has to be done once. With a little upkeep after your reel is set up, you can use it repeatedly.

Setting up a fly reel involves proper selection and connection of backing, fly line, and leader. Regular maintenance ensures the longevity and performance of your fly fishing gear. Practice casting to familiarize yourself with the setup before hitting the water. Happy fly fishing!

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