How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel?

Spooling a baitcastin reel

Do you have a baitcaster reel and aren’t sure how to spool it? You aren’t alone!

Many anglers, especially beginners, struggle with spooling their reel, which can be confusing and leave many of us overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. 

No matter how many visuals you see or guides you read, you leave none the wiser and in need to lie down. But, no more!

Today we are here with a detailed guide on how to spool a baitcasting reel. Get ready to learn everything you need to know and get your burning questions answered!

Before you start

Start with double overhand knot

Before you head off and spool your baitcasting reel, you will need to be prepared! It’s best to do this and have all your gear ready rather than flapping around with your reel half spooled!

To help, we have compiled a list of what you will need and the necessary steps to take before you begin. Let’s look at them now. 

Gather the following gear

  • Line 
  • Reel 
  • Rod 
  • A tool to cut the line. Nail clippers are ideal as they are small, sharp, and easy to use one-handed. 
  • A lire, hook, or weight to tie off at the end of the line. This stops your line from backing out the tip guide. 

Work out

  • In which direction your reel turn 
  • The type of reel you have (our advice is for baitcasters only) 

Baitcasting vs. Spinning reels

Two rods with different reels

Spooling a reel is usually similar across the types of reels, but there are a few differences in the approach that you should be aware of. If you have a baitcaster reel, you will need to feed the line through a line guide.

This is a tiny hole at the front of the reel. The line needs to be fed through here before you can tie the line around the reel spool. 

Those with spinning reels will take a slightly different approach. You will need to have the line on the correct side of the bail. How do you do this?

You will need to open the bail before you tie the line around the spool. There are plenty of tutorials guiding you through this online should you need help! 

The knot

Tied knot on reel

Later, we suggest using an arbor knot to tie the line around the spool as it’s the best knot for the job. It’s a simple knot made up of two overhand knots.

There are plenty of tutorials online you can check out if you are concerned about this!

Maintaining tension

When spooling your reel, the most important thing to do is maintain the tension. If you do this wrong, you can end up with loose loops around your spool, which can cause some issues! 

It can leave you with inconsistent casts as your reel will unravel at different speeds when the lure flies through the air.

You will notice that you have less control over your cast and feel some jerkiness, lowering your accuracy while you fish. You can also end up with bird’s nest, an absolute nightmare to deal with! 

Another issue is that you can get binds or kinks in the line, weakening the line and breaking it! Not only does this cost you fish and lures, but you will need to spend time and money on a new line! 

Be sure to maintain the tension and check it regularly to avoid these issues happening to you! 

Step by step

Baitcaster reel with spooled line

Now that we have done our prep work, it’s time to spool a baitcasting reel! Use the following step-by-step guide to do so.

Remember this is just a guide; you should also consult the user manual of your reel for specific tips and guidance where needed.

If you find yourself struggling, be sure to use online tutorials and forums to gain even more information!

Step 1 – locate your line correctly.

Line trough hole

To start, locate your line and feed it through the line guide. It’s best to do this before rather than after so the line can be evenly distributed along with the reel. You can do this manually, but it is time-consuming and quite tricky to do. 

Step 2 – loop the line around the reel spool

Next, you will want to loop the line around the reel spool, which is the hardest part of spooling your baitcaster! If your reel has holes in the spool, thread the line through the holes.

Give the handle a quick twist to ensure the line goes all the way around the spool. 

If there are no holes, you will need to get the line around it completely. With your baitcaster, you will want the new spool of line to feed directly onto the reel.

To do this, push something through the center of the reel and hold it upright. A pencil will usually do the trick! 

You might need someone to hold the pencil on each side of the spool so the line can come off the spool straight. This can be tricky the first time, but after a few attempts, it will become easier. 

Step 3 – tie an arbor knot around the spool.

Next, tie an arbor knot around the spool to keep it secure. This step is made of two overhand knots tied and is simple to do.

If you aren’t familiar with arbor knots, there are plenty of tutorials online that can help you! 

You don’t want the knots to be too loose or too tight. If the knots are too loose, your spool can unravel. Alternatively, if your knots are too tight, then it can damage the friction.

You want your knots tight enough to generate the friction required to start the spool but not too tight. It can seem confusing, but while you tighten the knot, you will be able to see the right tightness. 

Step 4 – pinch the line to maintain tension as you reel.

Pinch tje line for appropriate tension

Maintaining the tension of your reel is essential. To check it, pinch the line just in front of the reel and start reeling. Pinching will keep the line tight, but not too tight that you can’t reel it in.

You will need to take extra care if you use monofilament and fluorocarbon lines, as these can stretch under tension. 

Be sure to keep the stretch to a minimum. You want to keep it tight enough to prevent any loose loops from developing! 

Step 5 – rel the line in

Next, maintain tension and reel the line in. continue to do this until there’s roughly an ⅛ of an inch between the line and the outside of the spool. Most reel manufacturers will consider this ‘full.’ 

Step 6 – feed the line through the rod guides.

Then run the line through the guides. Leave yourself several feet of the extra line after the last guide at the tip. 

Step 7 – tie off a lure or hook to the end of the line.

To finish, tie off a lure or hook. This helps maintain some tension on the line and prevents the line from backing up on the reel. You can use a small hook or lure if you prefer.

Ideally, anything that will do the job well without tying up a lure you might want to use on another rod as food! 

And just like that, you are done! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute queries answered here!


Braided lines are often smoother than mono or fluoro lines meaning they have less friction. Lines with less friction can be difficult to get the line started when you reel and will slip and not get spooled.

Thankfully you can solve this by using a short backing line of mono or fluoro line. 

It doesn’t need to be more than a few feet long or about ⅓ of a spool’s depth. Use this as the line to start the reel. Then you can tie a knot that splices the backing line to the braid. It’s best to use a double uni knot for this as they are simple and strong. 


Yes! You can both overfill or underfill your spool. Overfilling your reel will leave you with casting issues or abrasion between the line and other reel parts.

You might also find that some lines will absorb water. If you overfill your spool, this can hold the water in the line and weaken it. 

Underfilling your spool can also cause issues. It will force the reel to spin faster to do the same work as a full reel. This can cause friction that leads to less distance when casting, reducing your chances of a catch when fishing. 


You can thread your line through holes in a reel spool if you wish.

There are plenty of other anglers that do this and have no issues! However, some people have concerns about doing this and worry that it could cause kinks or sharp angles in their lines.

Instead, these people wrap their line entirely around the spool. It’s your choice which method you choose to follow! 


It depends on your reel! Most reels will state how much line they can hold. Although it can be difficult to figure out how much 150 yards looks like without any additional tools.

Instead, it’s best to fill the reel until it’s 1/8[ inches between the outside of the line and the spool. 

It’s always best to check with your user manual, too, to see if your reel has any specific guidance you can follow here.


If your loose spots are close to the surface, you should be able to just pull it. If they are deeper, you will need to unravel your reel past the loose spot and re-reel it.

Be sure that the tension is appropriate when re-reeling to prevent loose spots from happening again!


The above method we mentioned will work to stop your line twisting! If there is already a twist in your line, you need to figure out the direction of the twist and flip the line spool to straighten it out.


Keeping your spool of line face up only applies to spinning reels, and it’s done to replicate the same direction the manufacturer uses to load the line onto the spool.

It will also be the same direction the line will come off when you cast your reel. As you are spooling a baitcasting reel, you don’t need to worry too much about this today.


There are no hard and fast rules here, but usually, it’s easier to string the line through the guides after. This way, you have more control over the line as you reel it in.

It can be challenging to deal with the line when it runs the length of the reel. However, if you want to do it before, you can. It’s down to your personal preference which you choose!


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