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How To Setup a Fly Fishing Reel

 Setting up a new Fly Fishing Reel does not need to be complicated. The easiest way to have a new fly fishing reel setup is to go to your local fly shop and have them set it up for you. But not everyone has a fly shop in thier area that can do just that. So DIYing is the next best thing.

There are a few simple steps and knots to use when setting up a new fly fishing reel. Preparing the fly reel, connecting the backing to the fly reel, then connecting the leader to the fly line would be the high-level view of how to setup the fly fishing reel. We will discuss the minor details in performing those steps in this post.

Things We Need

We're going to need a new Fly Reel, your choice of Backing, and your favourite Fly Line. For a trout reel setup, you will need about 100 yards of 20 or 30 lbs backing. For larger game fish, you may want to add more. The fly line will also depend on you and your casting style and needs.

Preparing the Fly Fishing Reel

Each manufacturer has a different way of preparing the reel. The first thing you should do is to check the manual they've provided to see if there are settings that you can tweak to fit your needs. One of these tweaks is switching your hand retrieve to left or right. Some might be as easy as flipping a switch, other reels may require you to use tools. Again it all depends on the manufacturer and make sure you check your reel's manual. Once you have your personalised setting up, you can remove the spool, set the reel aside, and move to the next step.

Attach the Backing to the Fly Reel

To attach the backing to the fly spool, I use a Uni Knot. I use this knot because the Arbor Knot has failed for me a number of times. The Uni Knot has became my go-to knot for connecting any type of backing. It may not be the slimmest of knots, but I trust it more than any knot for my backing. Tying the Uni Knot is quick and easy, which is an added bonus. Feel free to use any knot you're comfortable tying for your backing.

Connecting the Fly Line to the Backing

After connecting my backing to the reel, the first thing you need to check is which end of the fly line goes to the reel. This is usually marked by a tag stating "This end to the Reel". 

Grab the end of your backing and form a big loop using a Triple Surgeon's Knot. The loop has to be big enough to fit the spool of your new fly line. Once the backing loop is formed, you can connect your fly line to the backing using a loop-to-loop connection. I'm one of those anglers who does not have the luxury of having extra reels spooled with different type of fly lines, so this setup allows me to quickly switch lines before my fishing trip.

Now if I had multiple reels that I can have different line on, I would connect my fly line to my backing using the Nail Knot. I find this knot to perform the best, especially if you like feeling the fish strike. This knot also goes through the rod guides smoothly because of its small profile. The only drawback I see with this kind of connection is that you have to cut your fly line if you didn't get the setup correct on the first try. If done correctly, any setup to connect your fly line to your backing should work well.

Leader to Fly Line

Now that the fly line is connected to the backing, it's time to add your leader. Most modern fly lines comes with a welded loop built in. The easiest way to connect your leader to the fly line is to use the loop-to-loop connection. This again will make you versatile when fishing, allowing you to switch leaders with different length or even switch from a floating leader to a sinking leader to get deeper in the water column. 

The nail-knot also works to connect you leader to your fly line if you do not plan on switching leaders at all. Or if you can tie the nail knot easily stream-side then  this is a good option, just keep in mind that you will be cutting into your fly line every time you need to re-tie your knot.

Hope this quick guide on how I setup my new fly fishing reel has helped you. Checkout our video below and see if you can setup your new reel with me. 

If you found value in this post or on the video, or if you have any suggestion on how to better setup a new fly fishing reel, please feel free to leave a comment below. Also consider subscribing to our YouTube channel for some awesome videos of us fishing and some helpful tips from someone who is also always learning new things in this awesome sport. Thank you and hope to hear from you.