If you’re chasing big fish, make sure you wind your backing on tight.
King salmon, and Dean River steelhead, and dorado, and tarpon can pull really hard. If your backing isn’t wound on tight, the force of a fish’s run can cause the outer layers of backing to pull through loosely-wound backing below – not a situation that lends itself to landing that fish. Depending on the design of your spool, loose backing underneath can also get pulled by tighter backing on top into bulges that stick out and knock on things as they fly around, as pictured above – not good.
How tight? We’ve been told ‘6 pounds of pressure’ and ‘tight enough that you can’t push a pencil through it’. If your fly shop puts your backing on with a motorized line winder, they should be able to get it on there good and snug. If you’re winding it on yourself, try wearing a leather glove on the hand that’s guiding backing onto your spool (i.e. if you wind with your left hand, wear the glove on your right). Interlock the backing through your fingers (over one, under the other, over the next) and give it a squeeze as it slides through – that’s just about right.
Don’t be unreasonable about it – we’ve actually bent the spool on a really beefy reel by winding backing on too tightly (blame the adrenaline prior to an offshore session at Andros South).
But get it on there tight!
karl kjellberg says
Just wanted to say again that I look forward to your emial communications for the information shared, please keep up the good work. It keeps reinforcing how much I enjoyed fishing at your lodge on the Dean this past year. Good marketing!
Hi Karl, thanks very much for the good word! We hope to see you on the water again soon.
Expanding on your article, what kind of backing do you all prefer? Dacron, Micron, Spectra, Dyneema? And what size/test for certain applications? I am most interested in backing options/recommendations for bonefishing, but this information may come in handy for many of your readers.
Thanks so much!
Hi Blair, thanks a lot for stopping by!
My personal backing preferences are awfully simple and boring, and are basically summed up with this handy table.
Trout, dollies, grayling: 20 lb Dacron
Everything else: 30 lb Dacron
There are lots of anglers who I respect who swear by Spectra, Micronite, and various combinations of high-tech backing materials. I’ve just never had a problem with Dacron. It’s easy to manage, it won’t slice your finger off, and despite getting to fish pretty regularly in some pretty great places, I’ve never come close to being spooled.
That’s my 2 cents – I’d love for others to weigh in with their backing choices as well!