Fishing is a lot of fun, and an important skill to learn, but only if not done properly can lead to frustration.

One of the reasons why a lot of new anglers get frustrated is they don’t spool the spinning reel correctly. The following is a detailed guide that explains how proper spooling is done.

Importance of Proper Spooling

Spooling and loading the fishing reel is crucial because it prevents the line from twisting. If it’s not spooled correctly, the line is going to twist and coil. The end result is the line gets entangled as you cast, creating a big mess.   

A lot of shops will do the spooling for you, and that’s not a bad idea if you’re new to angling. However it is better if you learn how to do this so you can make adjustments if necessary.

How to Spool a Spinning Reel

Here is a step by step guide to proper reel spooling.

  • Look for the bail on the reel and open it. The bail is the small arm which flips up and down. Up it is open, down it is closed.
  • Use an arbor knot to fasten the line. Make sure it is secured on the arbor.
  • Place the spool on the ground with the label facing you. Remember, a spinning reel line has to be loaded the same way it is taken off the spool.
  • Use the index finger and thumb on your free hand to apply pressure on the line. Do about 20 turns with the light pressure on. That line pressure needs to be constant, if not the line will tangle and loosen.
  • After 20 turns, stop and look for signs of twisting. Allow the line to slacken and see if it twists. If it does, turn the spool so the label faces down and repeat. Try the side that generates less twist.
  • Fill the spool up to an eighth of an inch off the rim. Do not overfill the rim as that will cause issues. But don’t under fill it either because it’s going to cause trouble as well.
  • You’re done spooling. Now you just have to use a rubber band to keep the line secured on the spool. You can also wrap this on the tab if your spool has one.

Tips on How to Use a Spinning Reel

Grip the rod with your strong hand, and place your hand along the reel base where it is connected to the rod.

You should also leave around 12 inches / 1 foot between the rod’s tip and your bait. Make certain the reel bail roller is under your index finger on the grip. The roller is the steel loop frame along the spool. Use your index finger to hold the line so it remains taut.

Properly held, you can now release the reel. The finger tension must always be there, otherwise the line gets released and you have to start over.

When casting, make sure there is sufficient space behind you so the line and rod can freely swing. Remember that the rod should point where you want it to go. Now swing the rod over your shoulder and cast it forward. This needs to be done in one motion.

When your forward swing reaches the top, let your index finger relax. If you swung properly, the line should plunge in the water gracefully. If the cast has the smooth feeling you want but doesn’t carry enough distance, put some weights on the lure for extra momentum.

The number of weights you should add depends on personal preference. You just have to experiment and find the right balance.

  • Casting with a fly rod takes some practice. It’s not that hard to learn but mastering it is another matter. However it is worth your time to figure out how it works because it’s going to help you catch that big fish.
  • For continuous retrieving and casting, you’re better off with high gear ratio reels than low ones. There are a lot of different gear ratios to choose from, but a 4:1 to 5:1 is a good starting point.
  • You may also want to check out the reel’s ball bearings. The more ball bearings there are, the smoother it will be performance wise. But make sure you buy only those with high quality ball bearings.

Look in particular for ball bearings with anti-corrosion properties. As far as number goes, 4 ball bearings is the minimum most anglers work with.

  • You may also want to check out reels with anti-reverse lock handles, as it gives you a good hook set without having you worry about the spin going backwards. 

Reminders and Warnings

  • A lot of new anglers like to use a pencil or pen and for reeling in. Avoid this at all costs because it’s going to create twists that will get entangled later.
  • Always keep in mind the direction of the spinning reel. Make sure the line from the spool matches, otherwise there will be issues with twisting later on. The simplest way to do this is to spool the reel as described above.
  • New anglers should focus on accuracy first rather than distance. Once you have the accuracy down, you can work on increasing the distance.
  • Always keep your concentration on the target. Don’t lose focus while you’re casting, but you must still be aware of what is happening around your environment.
  • If you want to get maximum distance, let the lure hang approximately 18 inches off the rod’s tip. This is going to result in a lashing motion that produces energy with the rod.
  • When you cast, don’t let your eyes leave the target zone.
  • Remember that the bail has to be closed after casting. 


As we have shown here, it’s not that hard to spool a fishing reel. It might take a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of this and it will become second nature. Even if you’re new to all of this, there’s no reason to get worried about failing to get that spooling right.