How to Put Backing on a Fly Reel

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Part of the mission of Texas Freshwater Fly Fishing is educating and part is promoting fly fishing in Texas. This not only is about promoting it to already seasoned fly anglers, but to make it more accessible to those who have yet to join the fun.

Hopefully, through this series of articles and videos, TFFF can help those initially intimidated by fly fishing learn how to get started.

This first article/video is on fly line backing. I will describe, in the simplest terms possible, how to put the backing onto your spool, or reel.

Why Backing?

  • Backing does two things,
  • 1) it provides extra line in the event that the fish runs further than your fly line
  • 2) it “enlarges” the arbor (or center of the spool.) This allows you to “pick up” or “reel in” more line each time you turn the handle.

How to Put Backing on the Reel

  1. Make sure your reel is set properly for you.
  2. Either Right Hand Retrieve (those that cast with their left arm.)
  3. Or, Left Hand Retrieve (for those that cast with their right arm.)
  4. Use an Arbor Knot to attach the backing to the spool.
  5. You can use other knots, but an arbor knot is quick, easy, and effective.
  6. Start by tying an overhand knot in your backing. Trim off the excess. Tie an overhand knot in the backing
  7. Wrap the line around the arbor in the opposite direction of the way you reel. This will help it when you begin spooling it up.
  8. Take the end with the knot, and tie another overhand knot with it, but this time, tie the knot around the main line of backing. Tie another overhand knot, but this

    time tie it around the main line.

  9. Cinch it down onto the spool. The first knot you tied should “catch” as it tightens down.
  10. Set up the spool and backing so that you can easily reel it onto the spool.
  11. I use a pencil and a cardboard box. I stick the pencil through the spool, and then each end through holes in the box.
  12. Reel the necessary amount of backing onto your spool.
  13. Keep tension on the line as you spool it on.
  14. Make sure you keep it even across the spool. You don’t want it higher (more line) on one side than the other. Make sure the backing is even across the spool
  15. How much should you put on?
  16. The manufacturer often makes a recommendation. Find that in your paperwork or online.
  17. If you can’t find a recommendation from the manufacture, I usually follow these rules:
  18. Most Freshwater – Use 100-150 yards of backing
  19. Most Saltwater – Use 200-250 yards of backing.

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