I’d really like the fly fishing world to change how backing is put on a fly reel.  Most folks recommend an Arbor Knot https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbor_knot  (link to Wikipedia)  I’ve found that the best knot is a Double Surgeon’s Loop.  Fast to tie and one of the essential fly fishing knots for a fisher person.

Checkout what I mean in this video.

Tie a big loop and flip it over the reel spool.  This type of knot let’s you easily remove the backing without digging at your spool with a knife.

Do You Need Backing on a Fly Reel?

I’ve been asked this a couple times and the answer is YES.  Backing is like an insurance policy.  Adding a little extra line for a big fish to run gives the fly caster a chance to tire the fish.

The only time, I’d suggest not adding backing is if you’re fly fishing for tiny fish with a size one reel.  This is kind of silly, but micro-fishing is a little trend.

From personal experience casting for bluegill and hooking into a largemouth bass is a thrill.  If you don’t have enough line to play the fish odds are you won’t snap any pictures.

Fly Fishing for Bass

How Much Backing Do You Need on a Fly Reel?

So, we touched on the “Need” for backing, so now how much?  As much as possible, I know that’s a vague answer.  Put as much backing on your reel as it has capacity.

Don’t over fill the reel though.  If the line touches the reel frame, you have to much.  The fastest way to wear out your fly line is to rub it on the frame.

Does the Fly Line come Off the Top or Bottom of the Fly Reel?

If you’re new to fly fishing this is a great question.  If you start spooling the reel incorrectly it’s a big mess to redo.  The fly line always comes off the BOTTOM of the reel.  To better describe:

Fly Line off Bottom of Fly Reel
ly Line off Bottom of Fly Reel
  1. If you cast with your right hand the reel should attach to the fly rod hanging below the handle.  The reel knob should be on the left.
  2. With the fly reel handle left the fly line should exit the reel from the bottom.
  3. Watch that you haven’t pulled the line over the frame when rigging.

What is the Best Fly Line Backing?

Like I said, having backing is a plus.  What’s the best backing – check out the gel-spun poly backings.  The thin diameter increases the capacity and the break strength far exceeds what inexpensive Dacron backing is rated at.

If your looking for a recommendation check out Scientific Anglers XTS Gel Spun Backing (Link to Amazon for pricing)  I would estimate you can put +70% more backing on (using the same tensile strength).


Looking to learn a little bit more about backing? Read this article – What is Fly Line Back and How Much do I Need

David Humphries at Guide Recommended

Hey David here the maker of Guide Recommended. I’m super passionate about everything fly fishing fishing; writing, teaching and even video.