Now that you have hopefully bought your rod, reel and line you will need to know how to set up your fly line and put it all together so you can go fly fishing.
The first thing to do is load the reel with the line unless you have purchased a kit with it already spooled on. The backing line is the first to be added to the reel. This line is used to bulk up the reel to keep the fly line even and close to the top of the reel so it can be easily spooled on and off. Its main purpose is to allow the fish to take you on long runs if it chooses to do so.
A fly line is normally 30 yards long and many fish species will want to run further than that so it is advisable to add as much backing line as your reel will allow. If you are following the recommended start up kit here and purchased a 7-8 weight reel you will be able to spool on about 100ft of regular backing. I say regular as there are with all aspects of fly fishing many variations and these come in different dimensions. As thinner lines are more expensive I would recommend the basic backing line made from woven Dacron or braided monofilament which are more affordable.
A good way to see exactly how much line you can hold on your reel is to first wind on the fly line and tie the backing to it with a simple knot and wind as much as you can until the line is close to but not touching the outer rim. Then take it back off by either winding on to another reel or the spool it came from making sure you have cut the line at the required end. It takes a bit of towing and throwing but this means you will have the reel full to capacity. Remember that you need to reverse the line before winding back on the reel.
Once you have the line reversed you can start to add it in the correct order backing first followed by fly line. The backing line is attached to the reel with the arbor knot. This knot is very simple to do and very safe. Once tied on wind the backing on in even turns laying it down flat on the reel as best you can. If you take your time you will get it to lie flat.
Next we have to add our fly line to the backing. This is where we need to be careful as a badly tied knot will not only loose the fish but possibly the fly line as it goes flying off the reel into the water and away after your prize fish. The knot regularly used here is the nail knot.
It has great strength and when mastered correctly will sit nice and flat on the line. Hywel Morgan has also a handy tip in the video for connecting braid to fly line, I have used it successfully on trout set ups but not so sure about salmon or larger target species.
Tip! Get some fly tying thread and run consecutive turns over the nail knot connection and run a couple of layers of quick drying varnish to form a very smooth finish.
OK now that is done and you’re sure of its connection wind the fly line onto the reel. Now you will have come to the end taper of the line where we need to attach our leader. An easy way to do this is put on a braided loop on to the fly line which leaves the end with a nice loop so leaders can be attached whenever we go fishing easily.
The other way to do it is a simple hand over knot on the end which has been used successfully down the years before braided loop was developed. The braided loop does leave the line a lot smoother. One thing to consider if you are targeting easily spooked species like wild brown trout the braided loop can cause tiny air bubbles to be released from the end of the fly line when retrieved and this can put them off. In cases like that I would use a nail knot to attach the leader. For most cases the braided loop is fine.
Another Tip! When the loop is attached use some Stormsure adhesive to run over the loop to make it smooth before securing with the flexible tube. Some would use super glue but this goes brittle after a while and causes the loop to hinge when casting. The storm sure is flexible and made for water repairs so ideal for the situation. If you are targeting larger species make sure the loop is securely fastened I would recommend a nail knot of monofilament line equal to the weight of the desired catch. Example targeting Salmon up to 20lb then use 20lb mono and run the knot around about eight times. I have found loops secured this way are super strong.
Remember your set up is only as strong as the weakest link so double check all connections regularly. If in doubt redo them to make sure you don’t lose that fish of a lifetime. Don’t be intimidated by making these connections, with a bit of practice and patience you can master them, which at the end of the day is all part of the sport. While working in the tackle shop it always surprised me how many anglers didn’t know how to attach loops or make connections properly relying on their mates or us to do it for them. We didn’t mind it was all part of the service but for me personally I would rather blame myself and not someone else if I lost a good fish to a knot breaking.
Now that we have the loop on its time to attach the leader. This can be done a few ways but I would always use a loop to loop connection so I would form a water knot (or surgeons knot) at the end of the leader to connect it with. The formation of the leader is another problem which we will tackle in another post.
Hope this guide helps you in some way please feel free to ask any questions on the subject below in the comments or by emailing me directly. I will do my best to find you a solution.
Need more info on fly fishing check my review on fly fishing unleashed!