How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel – Line a Baitcaster Properly

Baitcasting reels are the “go-to” equipment for bass fishermen and anglers looking for a versatile reel that can do just about anything.

Baitcasting reels can handle a variety of line. So, learning how to spool a mid-sized baitcaster as you change line from monofilament to braid, and then back again isn’t difficult. 

But if you don’t do it correctly, you’re not going to like the results.

We’ll walk you through the steps to ensure your line is always performing at its peak.

Equipment Needed Before Starting to Spool a Baitcaster

You’ll need the obvious, an empty reel and a spool of line, but some other equipment can make the process much easier.

The best equipment you can have is a partner who will hold the spool of new line and apply pressure to it as you crank it onto your reel. 

If you’re going to do this alone, the only other equipment you’ll require is a pencil and maybe a few yards of monofilament line.

How Do You Spool a Baitcaster?

Here are the steps necessary to spool a baitcaster reel:

  • Remove old line
  • Thread new line down the rod to the reel
  • Method one: tie the line to the reel through a hole in the spool
  • Method two: tie the line onto the spool
  • Method three: tie a few yards of monofilament to the spool, then tie an Alberto knot to connect the braided line to it
  • Reel in the line under pressure
  • Fill the spool

Step 1

Removing the old line is an obvious step but choosing what to do with that line isn’t as easy a decision.

If you’re going to discard the line, release the reel and pull out the line. Many anglers tie the old line to a post or truck bumper and begin walking away with the rod and reel in their hands. 

If you have a lot of line, ie. a few hundred yards, you’re going to walk a while. 

When you hit the end of the line, cut it, and start wrapping it back over your hand and elbow like a rope as you walk back. 

Toss the line away, and you’re finished.

If you want to keep the line to use again, you’ll have to wrap it on a spool, possibly the one it came with, by wrapping it hand-over-hand. 

This process is much slower but preserves the line for later use.

Step 2

Threading the line down the rod in the opposite direction is the simplest of all the steps involved. 

Just take the open end from the new spool of line, insert it inside the top eyelet and thread it through each successive eyelet until the line is at the reel.

Also Read: Smallest Baitcaster Reel

Step 3

Method One:

Most spools come with a smooth, patterned hole in the center. Slide the line through the hole, then pull it back over the top. 

Next, tie a simple, overhand knot, trim the ends until the knot is smooth and begin reeling in the line.

Method Two:

If there is no hole in the spool, slip the line around the spool, hold it tight with your fingers and crank the reel a few times until a layer of line has covered the spool. 

Next, tie the line together, trim the ends until the knot is smooth and begin reeling in the line.

Method Three:

This is the most elegant solution to the problem of braided line slipping on a baitcasting spool that doesn’t have an attachment hole. 

Wrap a few yards of monofilament that is about the same pound-test as the braided line you’re going to attach.

Slide the braided line down the rod eyelets until it reaches the spool. 

You’re going to tie the ends of the monofilament and the braided line together, but a simple half-hitch or even a square-knot won’t do the job.

For this procedure, the debate rages on whether an Alberto or an Albright knot is the best choice. 

You’ll have to research the two knots to tie one successfully, though they are very similar. 

In essence, the monofilament is bent into a loop, and the braided line is tied through the loop, then wrapped in a series of loops around the monofilament and pulled tight.

Step Four

Pressure applied to the line as it is reeled in creates a much tighter, compact spool of line. 

Whether it’s monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided line, it has to be reeled in with enough pressure to seat the line properly on the spool.

The good news is that baitcasters are very forgiving. So, you can have a wide range of resistance on the line and still get good results.

If you don’t have pressure on the line as you reel it in, your reel will be more susceptible to backlash when you’re out on the water.

The best pressure is applied with a partner holding the spool of new line as you reel it in. There is a hole in both ends of spools of line so a pencil can be placed through them, creating a rolling spool.

As your partner holds the spool with the pencil, they should put a little pressure on the line with their thumb as you reel it in.

If you don’t have a partner, you can still apply pressure on the reel by holding the new spool with your feet. 

Place one end of the pencil on top of one foot, the other end on the floor, and use your other foot to apply pressure on top of the spool.

Experience anglers sometimes pass the line between their toes for extra control as they reel in the new line.

See Also: How To Choose The Right Baitcaster

Step Five

A steady, consistent crank of the handle allows the line guide to move smoothly back-and-forth across the spool, laying down consistent patterns of line.

As the line reels in, the spool begins to fill. Line capacities vary greatly on reels depending on size and manufacturer.

An underfilled reel won’t cast as far, and an overfilled reel is a backlash nightmare waiting to happen.

Referring back to the “Goldilocks” principle, you don’t want too much, you don’t want too little either, you want it just right.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Way Should Line Come Off the Spool for A Baitcaster?

There is no option on modern baitcasting reels; the line spools out over the top of the reel on casts and comes back the same way on retrieves.
Classic models made in the early 20th century would spin both ways, creating monumental backlashes, but technology solved that dilemma.
If you’ve ever had an argument with a spouse, family member, or roommate over how a roll of toilet paper should unroll, you won’t have it with your baitcasting reel since it is not an option.

How Full Do You Spool a Baitcaster?

A general rule of thumb for how full to spool a baitcaster is to leave about an eighth-of-an-inch of open space on the spool. Too little line limits how far you can cast and slows your retrieve. 

Too much line and the line will loop around the line guide when you cast, creating an epic backlash.

How Do You Spool Braided Line on A Baitcaster?

Braided line is spooled the same as monofilament or fluorocarbon line with the exception of how it is tied to the spool.

Braided line slips on a smooth spool. Ideally, you will have a hole in the center of the spool cylinder that you can slide the braided line through before tying it together with an overhand knot.

If you don’t have a hole to tie off with, you have a couple of options. The first is to loop the braided line around the reel under high pressure. 

Next, hold your finger on the spool with tight pressure on the incoming line and slowly crank the handle until the spool is covered with a single layer of braided line.

When the spool is covered, tie the end of the braided line to the incoming line with an overhand knot.

Snip the ends of the knot to make it smooth, then reel in the line.

The other method is outlined above. Spool a layer of monofilament, then tie the monofilament to the braided line. This will prevent slippage. 

Do You Need to Soak Fishing Line Before Spooling?

We all like to relax once in a while, so does the line you’re about to reel onto your spincaster.

Yes, it’s a good idea to soak fishing line in water before spooling it onto your reel. 

Soaking in warm (not hot) water for a few minutes before reeling the line onto the spool relaxes the line.

Get a bucket of warm water, drop the line, spool and all, into the bucket, and wait a few minutes.

Pull the spool out of the water, put it on a pencil, and begin cranking. You will now have a better-seated line that allows longer casts and reduces the chance of backlash.

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Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.


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