How to Spool a Baitcaster Like a Pro

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If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions on how to spool a baitcaster, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re short on time or want a visual of this process, check out Rapala’s expert how-to video on spooling a bait-casting fishing rod below.

Things You Will Need to Spool a Baitcaster

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Spool a Baitcaster

With Monofilament Line

Step 1: Locate the end of your filler spool.

Step 2: Starting at the top of your baitcasting rod, feed the line through the guides on your fishing rod until you reach the bottom.

Step 3: Once you thread your line through the line guide on the reel, you need to tie a knot in the line. Tie a double-overhead knot using the tag end of the line. Leave a 1-inch tag line. Pull the mainline away from the knot to produce a tight loop around the reel spool.

Step 4: Tug the line to tighten the knot. Then, trim the tag end of the line.

Step 5: Call a friend to help you with these next steps. Have a friend or fellow fisherman stand in front of your rod with the filler line spool in their hands. Make sure that the line is being released from the top of the spool. Have your friend insert a pencil into the center of the line spool. The pencil will serve as a support bar, or axel, for the line spool.

Step 6: With your friend firmly gripping the pencil, reel in the line. If you are only spooling monofilament, you can continue spooling the line until it is 1/8-inch from the top of the spool. For tips on adding braided filament, continue to the next section.

With Braided Line

Step 1: Once you’ve spooled your monofilament backing, you can finish spooling the reel with a braided line. Usually, you only need to spool a couple turns to generate enough backing.

Before you can spool the braised line, you must connect the two lines with a double-uni knot. For tips on tying a double-uni knot, check out our section on tying knots or watch this helpful how-to video. When you are finished setting up your double-uni knot, pull the lines in opposite directions to create a tight connection. After that, use scissors to trim away the remaining tag ends.

Step 2: After trimming the end tags, spool the braided line in the same way you spooled the filamentous backing. Crank the reel counterclockwise, or toward the rod. Have a fellow fishermen hold the spool of braided line on a pencil. This will help you to avoid line twists and back lashing. Spool the line until it is about 1/8-inch from the top of the line spool.

Do not add an excess line to your spool, as this will prevent you from pulling off smooth casts.

The Knots

You need to master double-overhand and double-uni knots before you can successfully spool a bait-casting reel.

Double-Overhand Stopper Knot

The first knot you need to tie is a double-overhand stopper knot. This knot consists of two interlocked overhand knots. First, create a small loop at the end of your line. Feed the tag end of the loop under the mainline and through the center of the loop. This is the first overhand knot.

Once you’ve created the overhand knot, feed the tag end of the line over the side of the loop and back through the center. Cinch the knot by pulling the mainline and tag end at the same time. The line should close in over your bait-casting spool. Use scissors or nail clippers to remove the tail end of the line.

Double-Uni Knot

A double-uni is used to connect monofilament to braided line. To tie a double-uni knot, start laying the two lines parallel to one another. Create a small loop with the monofilament line. Take the tag end of the monofilament and wrap it over the loop and braided line. Make three to four turns over the loop and braided line. Pull the tag end of the monofilament line to cinch the knot.

Now, do the same thing with the braided line. Make a small loop with the braided line. Wrap the tag end of the braided line over both lines. Make the same number of turns as you did with the monofilament. Pull both ends of the line to cinch the knot. Then, pull the tag end of both lines to pull the two knots together.

Check out the above video for a visual of the double-uni line. This knot is perfect for joining two similar diameter lines together. It’s small enough that it won’t get caught on eyelets. Still, it’s strong enough that it won’t slip off in the middle of a fish fight.


Hold the line with your thumb to increase the line tension. A small amount of tension will ensure that your line spools up evenly. Start slowly to ensure that your line sets up evenly. Do not tilt your fishing reel when making turns. The line will naturally fall into place. Do not inhibit it from shifting, as this will lead to uneven spooling.


Attaching a Lure or Hook


Attaching a Lure

Step 1: Use a uni-knot to attach a lure to your line.

Step 2: Feed the line through the eyelet on the head of the lure.

Step 3: Create a loop at the end the line.

Step 4: Wrap the tag end of the line over the loop and the mainline.

Step 5: Make three to four turns with the tag end of the line.

Step 6: Then, pull both ends of the line to cinch up the knot.

Step 7: Pull the mainline to bring the knot up against the eyelet on your lure or hook.

Step 8: Trim the tag end of the line.

Man SPooling baitcasting fishing rod

Attaching a Hook

Step 1: Use a snell knot to attach a hook to your bait-casting line. To start, feed the tag end of the line through the eyelet on the head of the hook.

Step 2: Pull the line along the hook’s shank and up beyond the bend. Isolate a section of line that is roughly three times the size of the shank.

Step 3: Fold this section of the line back over itself to create a loop that lines up with the shank. The top of the loop should be aligned with the hook’s bend.

Step 4:Pinch the top of the loop off to create a smaller loop at the bend.

Step 5: Grab the tag end of the line and wrap it around the mainline and hook shank in the direction of the eye. Make six to eight turns.

Step 6: When you are finished, pull the tag end back through the small loop at the hook’s bend. Pull the tag end to cinch up the knot.

Step 7: Trim the tag end of the line to complete this process.

How Everything Comes Together

It doesn’t take much for the average angler to set up a bait-casting reel like a pro. With a bit of precision and a few adequate knots, you can avoid common bait-casting issues, including backlashes, birds nests, and line twists.

You’ve spooled your line, set your hook or lure, and you’re ready to cast. Before you release your line, be sure to make a few braking and tension adjustments. You can adjust the tension of your line by turn the knob on the side of your baitcasting reel. When set correctly, the line should drop slowly without assistance. A well-adjusted line tension will help you avoid headache-inducing tangles.

Bait-casting reels also boast brakes. Before you adjust the brakes on your bait-casting rod, you’ll have to identify whether they are the centrifugal or magnetic types. If you have centrifugal brakes on your reel, you can use the knob on the side of your reel to adjust the distance of your brakes from the spool. Magnetic brakes can also be adjusted via a numbered dial located on or below the side plate of the reel. Since these braking systems work in very different ways, it’s important to form a basic understanding of the systems before making any adjustments.


Should I use a braided fishing line?

Many fishermen enjoy using a braided fishing line along with monofilament backing. Braided line is known for its smooth casts, unmatched sensitivity, and exceptional durability. At the same time, it’s a bit more expensive and more revealing than monofilament. Most seasoned anglers wouldn’t consider rigging up their bait-casting reels without a segment of braided line.

With all that said, it’s best to enter the learning phase of your bait-casting with a good spool of monofilament. Until you master the basics of this artful fishing form, braided line is going to be more of a headache than it is a benefit.

What can I do if I don’t have a friend around to hold the filler spool?

If you don’t have a friend who can hold your filler spool while you load your bait-casting reel, you can create a one-man spooling setup. Use a pencil, screwdriver, or chopstick to suspend your filler reel in the corner of a weighted cardboard box. The line should move freely, like a wheel on an axle. You can use a dumbbell, books, or any other heavy object to anchor the cardboard box.

How do you fix an uneven spool?

Sometimes, you go through all the motions only to find that your spool is thicker on one side. When this happens, you need to unspool your reel and make a few adjustments. After you unspool your reel, you should check on and grease your pawl and line guide. If anything looks off, it may be time to replace your bait-casting spool. If everything looks good, you can re-spool your bait-casting reel.

This time, take care when setting up your knots. The leader and backing knots should be aligned with the center of the spool.

What’s more, the line should be aligned with the eyelets on your rod when you are spooling your rod. Your thumb should be pressed down ever so slightly. You want to create a modest amount of tension. Excess pressure leads to uneven spools.

Do I need to feed my line through all the guides when spooling my reel?

Some anglers do not feed their line through all of their rod guides before spooling. Nevertheless, this simple action improves your chances of creating an even spool. In the very least, feed your line through the bottom guide to produce even results.

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