How to Set a Fishing Reel

We bet that you are here because you find fishing reels too complicated to set up and use. While this problem is pretty universal, and you are certainly not the only one, you should not fret about it. We will provide you with a detailed guide on how to set up a fishing reel.

Whether you take fishing as a sport or a leisure activity, your success in the waters relies on your fishing reel type and how you set it up. So, you need to get the setup right to boost your fishing success and abilities.

Depending on your experience level, setting up a fishing reel should take you between 10 to 30 minutes. Notably, this guide applies to spinning reels and other types of fishing reels.

Step-By-Step Guide On How to Set a Fishing Reel

The following procedure should help;

Step 1- Ensure You Have All the Equipment

Indeed, there are chances that you want to set up your fishing gear because you believe that you have all the components needed for the setup process. However, it is always important to be sure. Confirm if you have a fishing reel of any type, a fishing rod, a fishing line, and a bait/hook. Finally, get yourself a pair of scissors.

Note that your reel and rod should be compatible with each other. It is also essential to choose a hook or bait ideal for the types and fish you intend to go after.

Interestingly, this website has all the information that you may need.

Step 2- Identify and Understand the Parts of Your Equipment

You will not get the setup process right if you do not understand the parts of your equipment. These pieces of equipment are pretty complex, and assembling them will need advanced knowledge on the vital components of your reel, rod, and line.

a.       Parts of A Fishing Reel

Like every piece of equipment, a fishing reel has a range of parts that make it functional. They include;

  • The Spool- It is the place where you will wind the fishing line. Some spools are fixed while others are not.
  • The Handle- For nearly all types of reels, the handle operates line retrieval or release. The handle can turn clockwise or anticlockwise.
  • The Foot- This is another vital part of a fishing reel. It works to connect the reel to the rod.
  • The Line Roller- This is the component that rolls the line off the spool and back. It acts as a guide.
  • The Bail- Often made from metal, the bail is an arm that helps to lock the line and stop it from coming out. However, you can open the bail and allow the line to come out from the spool freely.
  • The Drag Adjustment Knob- The drag adjustment knob determines the ease or difficulty with which the line can leave your spool when you close the bail. Tightening the spool ensures that no line comes out of the spool. Contrarily, loosening the drag adjustment knob allows some line to come out of the spool when there is a force on the spool. The spool comes in handy when doing line retrieval, particularly when you have a catch on the line. Note that setting the drag is a skill that you will need to learn.

b.       Parts of a Rod

Just like the reel, the rod features parts that you will need to familiarize yourself with if you want to set up your fishing gear correctly. Let’s look at some of the names and functions of these parts;

  • The Rod Handle- Many handles are ergonomic, soft, and comfortable. It is where you will hold as you fish. You can also call it the grip.
  • The Reel Seat- It establishes the connection between the reel and the rod. Of course, these two components come separately.
  • The Guides- Often circular or semi-circular in shape, your fishing line will pass through the guides. The rings help to keep your line close to the rod.
  • The Tip- The rod tip is one of the most critical sections of a fishing rod. It is 4 inches long and is at the most distal end of the rod. Notably, the rod tip is notoriously thin and flexible. That helps you to feel when there is fish on your bait. The tip is pretty delicate and susceptible to breakage. So, you must be careful.

Step 3- Clean the Gear Beforehand.

Wipe the rod and the reel with a piece of soft cloth or towel. Doing so gets rid of dust and debris that could scratch the parts or compromise connections. You will also need a cotton swab for cleaning the female ferrule before you get the parts together and adhere to the basic steps of how to clean a fishing reel. Cleaning the components also extends the lifespan of the gear.

Step 4- Connect the Rod to The Reel

It’s time to connect the rod to the reel.  This is one of the most important stages of setting up a fishing reel. Of course, this step is quite complex and involves the following;

  • Pick your clean rod and loosen the reel seat. Make it big enough to fit your reel. You must have now noticed that the reel seat is on the rod and not on the fishing rod.
  • Align the male and the female pieces on a flat surface.
  • Hold the female ferrule securely and anchor the male ferrule on it. You will still need to align all the guides properly.
  • Attach your reel by placing the reel foot inside the reel seat.
  • Tighten the reel seat to ensure that everything is secure.

Stop the process if your rod is not coming together correctly. Again, do not overtighten the components as this could destroy the threads.

Step 5- Spool The Reel

Spooling your reel means putting the line on your reel. While it is often a cause for frustrations and difficulties, spooling a fishing reel is one of the most vital processes and must be carried out correctly.

The procedure for spooling your reel includes;

  • Flip the bail open.
  • Place your line around the reel. You should only do this once, which will result in two lines.
  • Tie a standard overhead knot using the two pieces of the line.
  • Tie another overhead knot and cut the loose line about ¼-inch away from your reel.
  • Close the bail.
  • To prevent your line from getting tangled when you put it on the reel, hold it tightly about a foot away from the reel.
  • Turn the reel continuously until you have the right amount of line on your reel.

While various reels require different amounts and sizes of line, modern reels have a line cap on their sides. The line cap provides you with the amount of a line a reel requires. If this is too brief, you can read more about how to spool a fishing reel here.

Step 6- String Your Rod

Stringing the rod is another essential process that you will need to do correctly. To string the rod, you will need to hold the tip of your line using one hand and open the bail with the other hand. You will then need to put the line through each rod guide, beginning with the one closest to the reel.

Once at the tip, do not let the line go. Hold it until you get to the next step.

Step 7- Tie A Fishing Knot

You will probably need to learn how to tie a basic fishing knot. It is a simple knot that should take you just a couple of seconds to secure. Besides, it is pretty versatile and ideal for all types of baits and hooks. However, it is not as durable as other professional knots.

The following steps should help you hack the knot;

  1. Place your line through the hook’s eye. You will end up with two pieces of lines, one on either side of the hook’s eye.
  2. Hold the loose end of the line with your pointer finger and thumb.
  • Now, hold each piece using different hands and cross one piece to the other hand so that you end up with both pieces in one hand. You will have a loose loop around your finger and a small piece of line dangling between your thumb and pointer finger.
  1. Hold the dangling piece and put it through the loop, ensuring that the circle stays intact when you remove your finger.
  2. Pull both ends of the line to tighten the knot.
  3. Repeat these steps three or more times to ensure that your knot won’t come loose and drop your hook or bait.
  • Cut the loose line about ¼-inch away from your hook’s eye. Be careful not to cut the line connected to your rod.

These steps will help you to tie the basic fishing knot. If you want to use more advanced or more durable knots, you can try out the Palomar knot, the Clinch knot, the Albright knot, or any other unique knots. These special knots are also ideal if your target is bigger fish of 15kg and above. We have a detailed guide on how to tie basic fishing knots as well as how to tie essential fly fishing knots that can give you other viable options.

Step 8- Setting The Drag Adjustment Knob

Setting the drag in a fishing reel remains one of the vital steps towards achieving success with your fishing gear. Interestingly, the drag adjustment determines the amount of line that can come out of your reel when there is a force on the line. It is the final step of setting up a fishing reel.

Increasing the drag means that a little line can come out. On the other hand, decreasing the drag means that the line can come out faster when there is a force on the line. Notably, it is the drag that you will need to play around with your catch until it is tired and can get out of water.

The following steps come in handy when setting up the drag;

  1. Turn the drag adjustment knob clockwise or anticlockwise. Turning the knob clockwise tightens the knob while doing the opposite loosens it.
  2. Pull the line manually from your reel from time to tie to determine the effect on the drag.
  • Repeat this procedure until you have the required drag.

The ease with which you can set your drag requires experience. While it is advisable to set your drag before you venture into the waters, you can always change your drag settings as you fish. This is advisable if you realize that the drag is either too tight or too loose.

But how will you know that?

Firstly, the drag is too loose if you realize that the fish quickly takes the line out of your reel. Whereas it is still necessary for the fish to take off the line, it should do so with some resistance. A drag that is too loose provides a little tension on the hook, making it possible for the fish to spit the hook.

Conversely, you will notice that the rod bends a lot but very little to completely no line is leaving the reel when the drag is too tight. You can loosen the drag a bit, as too much tension on the line will potentially break your line.

It is advisable to set the drag from time to time. Your drag settings will depend on the size and type of fish that you intend to go after.

Step 8- Cast The Bait

You are ready to go fishing once you complete setting the drag. And if you want to learn more about casting your bait, you can read our write-up on how to cast a fishing reel.

Step 9- Reel in The Line

You do not need to leave your line unreeled in when you finish fishing. Interestingly, reeling in the line is a pretty straightforward process that involves closing the bail, placing the line or the roller, and turning the handle.

Final Words

Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen. While this process is quite tasking, how to set a fishing reel correctly is key to your success during your fishing escapades. We hope that this article is helpful and provides you with all the steps. While these steps apply to all types of fishing reels, you will find slight variations, depending on your fishing reel and rod model.