How To Spool A Baitcaster (A Beginner’s Step-By-Step Guide)

close up of a baitcaster reel

The first step to every anglers’ success when using a baitcasting reel is spooling it properly. Baitcasting reels are notorious for backlashes and tangles since they are a little bit tricky to cast with and one way to reduce these outside of casting practice, is to make sure the reel is spooled properly.

Join me as we run through how to spool a baitcaster so that you can be sure that your main line is ready for your next fishing trip.

Is Spooling A Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel The Same?

Chances are that you have already owned a few spinning reels if you’re reading to move onto a baitcaster setup. The reason I know this is because 90% of us anglers have started their fishing careers with a spinning reel and once they have mastered them, move onto the much harder baitcaster reel.

Spooling a baitcaster is quite similar to spooling a spinning reel but there are some differences when it comes to how to spool a baitcaster and we will run through them below.

Is it hard to spool a baitcaster?

No, it’s not hard to spool a baitcaster reel, it’s actually very easy once you understand the steps and have all the equipment needed ready – more on this later.

… it’s not hard to spool a baitcaster reel …

Monofilament vs Braided Line

Before you start to spool your baitcaster, you’ll need to decide whether you’re using monofilament/fluorocarbon line, or braided line as your main line on reel’s spool.

reel on a table
An example of braided line on a reel

Braided line has a ton of benefits when it comes to casting distance and accuracy but it also creates a lot more line twists, tangles, and backlashes than fluoro or monofilament.

If you’re not sure whether to pick braid or monofilament on your reel spool check out my in depth article on Braid vs Mono.

Whichever fishing line you choose, the spooling process is pretty much the same but there are a few differences – we’ll go through those below.

Equipment List

Here are the things you need to have ready before you start spooling your baitcasting reel.

  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Monofilament fishing line
  • Pencil
  • One helpful friend
  • A dishcloth
  • Scissors or nail clippers
  • Braided fishing line (if you’re using it)

Step By Step Instructions For Spooling Your Baitcaster

Follow these steps exactly if you’re spooling your baitcaster with mono or fluorocarbon fishing line – we’ll discuss the differences below in the next section.

Spooling With Mono Or Fluoro

Step 1 – Attach Your Baitcaster Reel To Your Baitcasting Rod

While some anglers use a line spooler to put the line on a baitcasting reel, this isn’t necessary since it is possible to do the same thing with a rod.

Putting your reel on your fishing rod makes maintaining tension on the line while spooling your reel a lot easier and you can use the rod guides to ensure your new line goes on the spool straight.

Step 2 – Feed The Line Through The Rod guides

  • Take your fishing line and feed line through the tip guide and run the line through all the other guides down to your reel
  • Make sure the line comes off the filler spool in the same direction as it goes onto the reel as this will prevent line twists
baitcaster being used
Make sure to also practice your form!

Step 3 – Feed The Line Through The Line Guide Of The Reel

  • The next step is to thread the line through the reel’s line guide and feed line through it, around 1 foot
  • This will make tying the fishing line on to the casting reel a lot easier
  • Make sure the line guide is in the center of the spool

Step 4 – Tie The Fishing Line On To The Reel Spool

You have two options of how to tie your line onto the reel spool depending on the type of baitcasting reel you have.

Some reel spools come with a hole in the middle while others come with no holes at all. If you have a reel with holes, you can tie the line through them, if not, your line should be tied directly to the spool. Here are the steps:

  • Wrap the line around the spool twice (or through the hole)
  • You wrap the line around the spool to help it not to slip while spooling
  • Now tie an overhand knot around the line with the tag end
  • Tie another overhand knot in the tag end
  • Pull the main line until the knots tighten
  • With the two overhand knots, you have just tied an arbor knot
  • Use the same knot whether you’re tying to the spool or using the holes
  • You have now attached you line to the spool

If you’re unsure about tying arbor knots, here’s a quick video going over it

Spooling your line with an arbor knot

Step 5 – Trim The Line

Take your scissors or nail clippers and trim off the line at the end of the knot. Not only does this make the knot neat but also ensures the line goes onto the line spool correctly.

Step 6 – Get The Filler Spool & Your Friend Ready

  • Ask your friend to take the filler spool and place the pencil through it
  • Your friend should take the cloth and apply pressure to the side of the filler spool
  • This will help keep tension on the line while you spool the reel

Step 7 – Begin Spooling

  • Start reeling in the line onto your baitcaster by turning the reel handle
  • Make sure to apply tension so the line sits tight on the spool
  • This will prevent loose loops and line twists when you cast a lure

Step 8 – Continue Spooling Until You Fill The Reel

  • Keep winding the line under tension until you fill the reel
  • Do not over-fill the spool with lines and make sure you evenly spool your line
  • Stop spooling when the line reaches an 1/8th of an inch from the spool lip
  • Cut the the line at the filler spool

Step 9 – Attach a Hook

  • Tie a hook onto the end of the line (outside of the rod guides)
  • This will keep the lines tight so you are ready to go at a moments notice
  • Use a normal overhand knot for this as it’s easy to undo

Spooling Braided Line

If you choose to fill your fishing reel with braid then you will need to add some backing line in the form of monofilament backing to your spool first. This is because the braid tends to slip and therefore you will need some monofilament backing line to ensure it stays tight to the spool.

person using baitcaster
Make sure to spool your line well
  • Add the backing the exact same way you would add the mono as described in the steps above
  • Once you have covered the spool surface with the backing tie the braid to the mono
  • Use a double uni-knot to attach the braid to the mono
  • This is a very strong, small, neat knot
  • Continue spooling but now with your braided line in the same direction

For tips on how to knot a double uni-knot check this video out

A double uni-knot

Extra Tips on How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel

While the steps above my sound simple and they are, there are a few extra things to look out for. If you can tick all the boxes below, you should have no issues with backlashes or tangles due how the reel has been spooled.

How much line should I have on my reel?

It’s important not to overfill or underfill your reel. Under-filling your fishing reels means you might not have enough line to cast as far as you want to, or have enough line to fight a big fish that might take a 100 yards of line in a minute – like a bonefish.

Over-filling a spool will result in inconsistent casts, lots of backlashes as the excess line won’t sit tight to the spool and will birds nest when you toss your line.


You should always make sure your spool is filled all the way up to 1/8 inch from the spool edge, this is the perfect amount for ensuring you have enough line but not too much.

Make Sure the Fishing Line is Tight

You will have noticed that I mention keeping tension while spooling you baitcaster a lot and this is very important.

If the line sits loose on the spool it will unravel while you’re tossing your line out and create a lot of tangles.

a tangle of fishing line
No one likes to see their fishing lines tangled! (1)

If you’re using braid, it will not only unravel but it will also bite into itself while you’re casting or fighting a potential catch. This will result in broken lines and lost fish.

While you’re winding the line onto your baitcaster make sure your friend is using the cloth to apply pressure to the filler spool and thus create tension. You should also use your non-winding hand to create tension before the line goes onto the spool.


To check the line is tight enough, push into it after you’ve spooled your baitcaster and if it’s hard then you’re set, if it’s soft, you’ll want to start again.

Should you soak braid before spooling?

No you do not need to soak braided lines before adding them to your spools, it does nothing to the line or help you through the steps.

How much backing do you need for a baitcaster?

The whole idea of backing is to ensure that your braided line doesn’t slip on the spool and to do this your backing needs to cover the entire spool. You only need to cover your spool with one layer of monofilament line before attaching your braided line to it.

The Knots to Use

We have already mentioned which knot to use in the steps above but just for summary purposes here they are again.

close up of a knot on a rod
An example of an arbor knot

The Arbor Knot is the knot to use when attaching the mono to the spool. It’s the perfect knot as it’s easy to tie and it slips therefore sitting tightly around the spool.

The Double Uni-Knot is my favorite knot for joining braided lines to mono as it’s quick to tie, very strong, super neat, and small.

Winding Up

Thanks very much for reading my article. I hope you found it useful and now know everything about how to spool a baitcaster correctly.

By getting it right, you will save yourself hours of fishing time in the future instead of dealing with tangles and backlashes.

Please share the article with any fishing buddies or new anglers you think might find it useful and check out some of my other fishing tips and articles.

I cover everything from the best baitcasters to how to read a fishfinder.

(1) Tangled fishing line by Aristocrats-hat – licensed under CC BY 2.0

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