How to Load Line on a Spinning Reel

Posted by nick under Fishing Beginners Guide

Loading your line correctly is of supreme importance. Do this wrong and you’ll set yourself up for a line-twist nightmare later. The line twists into coils when it should hang limp, causing your line to tangle into an ugly nest when you cast.

The easiest way to load line onto your reel is to have someone else do it for you. If you can, just let the tackle shop take care of it when you buy your line. They have a nifty machine that will do it quickly and professionally.

If, for whatever reason, you need to do this yourself, this is how its done:

  1. Open the bail. That’s the little wire arm on the reel that flips up and down. Up is open, down is closed. Click here to see a diagram of a spinning reel.
  2. Tie the line on the arbor with an arbor knot. Click here to learn to tie an arbor knot. Close the bail.
  3. Put the spool on the floor, label facing up. A spinning reel requires that the line be loaded onto the reel the same way it comes off the spool.


    fishing line spool


    loading fishing line on spool

  4. With your free hand, use your thumb and index finger to apply light pressure to your line as you give the handle 15 to 20 turns. Always apply light pressure on the line while loading it, otherwise the line will go on loose and tangle later.

    applying pressure on fishing line


  5. Stop. Check the line for line twist. Do this by letting the line go slack. If it starts twisting, flip the spool over (label down) and try again. Use the side that gives you less twist.


    fishing line twist

  6. Fill your spool until it is 1/8th inch from the rim. Overfilling or underfilling your spool will create problems when you cast.

    line holding tab on fishing reel

Congratulations! You’re all done. You can use a rubber band to secure your line on the spool, or wrap it around the tab in your spool (if it comes with one).

Hot Technique Alert: Have you ever heard of the fly and bubble technique? It’s an awesome and versatile fishing tactic that every spin fisherman should know… read about here.

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31 Responses to “How to Load Line on a Spinning Reel”

  1. celticdaddio Says:

    Soooo… if my line twists as it comes off the spool during a cast, does that mean it was loaded onto the spool incorrectly or that I can’t cast. The twist is in line that is several loops into the spool. what I mean is that the twist wouldn’t come off the spool until a few feet (at least) were pulled off the spool. Something like backlash on a baitcast reel.

  2. nick Says:

    Hi celticdaddio,

    If your line twists as it comes off the spool during your FIRST cast, it can be because:

    A) the line was loaded onto the spool improperly.

    B) your outfit (line, reel, terminal tackle, rod) is somehow not balenced.

    If you take off the line and respool it correctly and it still twists off the spool as you cast, then it is probably an unbalalnced outfit. Please refer to “How will you know if you are a buying a balanced outfit?” section of this post (scroll down):

    Balanced Outfit

    If your line twists in subsequent casts then it can be because of one or more factors. I put up a post on line twist causes here:

    Line Twist

    Hope that answers your question.

  3. JaneRadriges Says:

    Hi, very nice post. I have been wonder’n bout this issue,so thanks for posting

  4. Anonymous Says:


  5. Pointer Men's Basketball Says:

    You you should make changes to the page subject How to Load Line on a Spinning Reel | to something more catching for your subject you write. I loved the the writing yet.

  6. cesar Says:

    I have several comments about line twisting but my English is poor. Can I send them in Spanish?

  7. cesar Says:

    It was done and this twice by error.

  8. nick Says:

    Hi Cesar,

    Yes, sure. Your comments are welcome.


  9. mark raymund Says:

    Thanks for the info. Much appreciated. Good job!!

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  11. Kevin Says:

    So i have tried many ways of winding my spinning real and with limited sucess. Could it be that i am not buying a low memory string which is much more costly? Any help would be appriciated.

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  13. Sinead Says:

    Another thing worth noting for beginners is the weight of the rod itself as some of the cheaper ones for beginners can end up being a bit heavy and tiring on the back and arms

  14. Dale Michael Williams Says:

    Since I was six I’ve had line twist problems. But if you have the room available to you, Mr. Watson (man who used to take me fishing since I was an orphan) gave me the perfect solution. I have tried it on every reel and every line made, and, it works flawlessly.
    Once you have spooled your line completely, tie a catch on the end, walk to the largest open area you can find, and attach that catch to something solid that will not move. Release your line and with it running thru your fingers, simply back off until you have made it FARTHER than the line you’ll use on your reel. Once you have done that, simply walk back just far enough to put a good bend in your rod and pressure on the line, and simply start winding.
    This is time consuming, but flawless. I have never had a backlash, line twist or line slip with any reel and any line after doing this. I don’t care WHO makes it.

  15. matt Says:

    I just got my new pole and this is my first experience with a spinning reel. someone put the line on for me, but put the tab over the end of the line. the tab on my line is almost impossible to open, and when i tried it cut my hand. Can anyone explain how i should open the tab?

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  17. tom Says:

    Re the Tenacious Tab. It doesn’t open and close. It’s just a little overhanging plastic piece that you can stick the line under. Make sense? It’s like a cliff overhang, not a hinge. Just hold your line near the end and pull it snug sideways under the tab. Cool?

  18. magic article spinner Says:

    Hey! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate!
    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  19. Timothy Says:

    Dale Michael Williams, thank you sir! My Grandfather taught me that when I was younger and I forgot all about it. I have done it with all my reels to great success! Thanks again!!

  20. Eq Says:

    This does not give nearly enough detail for a beginner!!

    Tie the line to the reel and then start turning the handle? What about all the stuff in between??

  21. Sailfish Says:

    If the line IS kinked after spooling. Use this trick if you have a boat… Take your rod and trail the bare line, no hooks sinkers swivels ect. Behind the boat let all the line off as the boat moves slowly, wait a few minuets as the line straightens out say, about 3 or 4 min.This will take out any twists the line has. Reel back while moving slowly. PS, you can twist your line by reeling while the hook is anchored say on a snag, or a large fish that maxed out your drag…

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  24. AmishRandy Says:

    Don’t forget the Mitchell! Mitchells wind backwards, so turn the label away from you when loading your spool! Also, tie your Arbor Knot backwards.

  25. Devid Says:

    I’m searching for this answer “How to load line on a spinning reel” Finally I got my answer from this excellent post and thanks to all that are contributing on the comment section. Excellent discussion!!

  26. Robert Forester Says:

    Not all manufacturers, even the big boys, spool their line in the same direction (clockwise vs. counterclockwise. “Label up” as a standard may be incorrect and lead to excessive twist. I guess you have a 50-50 chance with that advice! It seems that most spinning reel bails rotate clockwise when viewed from the top of the spool, but yours may be different. The only consistently correct method is to spool your line so that it goes on your reel in the same direction that it comes off your filler spool. There are countless You Tube videos illustrating the correct configurations.

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  28. Autographs Says:

    Done mine recently and it tangled when I tried to cast. Had to cut the lot off, so new line ordered. Hopefully this time I’ll get it right by following these steps.

  29. Nathan Says:

    Hello if your line twists as it comes off the spool when casting, cast it out and dip your rod tip I to the water and slowly reel in the line and take out any twists as you go. The water helps the line sit better on the spool until it dries a few casts after just do it again.

  30. Fishing Line Spooler Says:

    Love the old pen and pencil trick! I find it easy to use a fishing line spooler as well. Where you can hook your reel into the spooler and reel it on without having to use another person.

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