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How to Rig a Spinning Reel Perfectly – Instructed by Industry Experts

how to set up a spinning reel
Written by Immanuel Baranov

So, you’ve decided to try your hand at fishing. You can have sourced everything you need, made all the arrangements. You can almost feel that prize bass flipping around in your hands. But then, your eye catches the gear you just bought, and you realize you have no clue how to put it all together. Relax! Here’s the only guide you will ever need for setting up a spinning reel and rigIt may seem daunting at first but really it’s fairly straightforward. So let’s get you set up and on your way!

How to Set Up a Spinning Reel the Right Way?

Gather the Essentials

1. The Spinning Reel

To learn how to set up a spinning reel, you of course need the reel! If you don’t already have one, you can get one at your local fishing gear store for fairly cheap. On inspection you will see the reel is made up of a few essential parts. These are:

I. The Reel Foot

This is what we use to attach the reel to the rod and keep it seated and fastened.

II. The Handle

This is the magic arm you will be rotating when attempting to pull that prize fish out the water.

III. The Line Roller

This acts as a guide for the line as it comes of the spool, keeping it going in the right direction and minimizing tangles.

IV. The Spool

This is what all your fishing line is wrapped around.

V. The Drag Knob

We use this to set the drag sensitivity on the reel so we know when there is action on the line.

VI. The Bail Arm

We use the bail arm to lock and unlock reel rotation for purposes of casting and reeling in.

2. The Spinning Rod

You need a top-class spinning rod so you can attach the reel to it and rig the tackle conveniently. If you have any doubts about your gear see a local fishing shop for guidance on the best rood for your reel or vice versa. On inspection you will notice a few basic parts to a spinning rod. These are:

I. The Handle

You’ll be holding this part throughout your fishing endeavours, treat it nicely!

II. The Rod Stem

The name is self-explanatory. The line runs along the rod stem up to the tip and then out. You will notice it gets progressively thinner along its length. The thinner the tip is, the more sensitive the rod is to line movement, and the easier it is for you to feel when a fish is nibbling.

III. The Guide Eyes

These little loops on the rod step are for running line through. This keeps the line centred and close to the rod for maximum control.

IV. The Reel Seat

This little in-cut with spinning caps is where you seat your reel.

3. Fishing Line

Books could be (and have been) written on this seemingly simple topic. There are not many variants of line (3 that are popular). But there is much theory and opinion going round about which is best for what purpose and when etcetera. For now, ignore all that. Simple fluorocarbon or braided line will suffice! Ensure you have a full spool at hand.

4. Bait

The bait you attach to your line is very dependent on what kind of fish you are looking to catch. Your local fishing shop will be able to advise on, and provide the relevant bait for your choice catch. Whatever bait it is you have chosen to purchase, keep it close by.

Ensure you also have a pair of scissors handy when setting up spinning reel as you will need to snip off some line tips here and there.

Now you’re ready to set up a spinning reel. Let’s begin!

The Proper Steps

How to Rig a Spinning Reel Perfectly

Step 1 – Connect the Reel to the Rod

You will observe that there is a reel set just above the handle of your spinning rod. Untwist the cap to loosen it. Now place the reel foot in the seat on your rod. Ensure it’s tucked in nicely and the length of the reel foot is flush with your rod. Now screw the cap back down so the groove slots over and fastens the top end of the reel foot. Mount the spinning reels to fishing rods correctly, and make sure it’s fairly tight.

Step 2 – Spool the Reel

Feed the line you purchased through the reel and use an arbour knot to fasten it to the spool. While holding the line in your left hand, slowly reel the line in and around the spool. Make sure the line spools on evenly and without twisting. When you have an acceptable amount of line on your spool, pull another couple of meters of line along the length of your rod so it passes the length of your rod by about a foot. Snip the line. Take the end of the line and feed it through the line roller and up.

Step 3 – String the Rod

Now you need to take the line end you just feed through the line roller and pull it up the length of your rod. As you go up ensure to feed the end through each guide eye. Don’t miss any. Now pull it through the last guide eye at the tip of your rod. You should have at least a foot of line left off the tip of the spinning rod.

Step 4 – Tie the Knot

Now you need to take the hook or bait piece you have selected to fish with. Feed the line through the loop and bring it back around. Create a loop and send the end of the line through it. Pull tightly on the end of the line to tighten the knot. Now repeat this 2 or 3 more times for extra measure. This is a very straightforward knot such as you would use when tying off a balloon. Snip of the unused line end found after the knot.

Step 5 – Set the Drag Knob

Drag is used to make it harder or easier for the line to come on and off the reel, as well as an alarm of sorts that alerts you to activity on your lines end. A tighter drag will make it harder for line to be released or reeled so fish find it harder to swim away with your line. A loose drag allows the line more freedom for the line and thus the fish too.

Setting a drag too tight risks snapping the line if the fish is too strong, but an overly loose drag gives the fish too much freedom in some circumstances and makes it harder to feel if you have a bite. Practice and exposure will be your best instructors on what setting to leave your drag on. To tighten it all you need to do is turn the knob clockwise. To loosen turn it anti-clockwise. Just remember “lefty loosey, righty tighty”. You can readjust while fishing at any time.

And that right there is how to set up a spinning reel. So what comes next?

Step 6 – Cast the Bait

Casting may take some practice to perfect but here are the basic steps.

First, using your reeling hand, grip the rod so that the reel sits between your middle and ring finger. Now pin the line to the rod using your index finger. Hold this tight. Use your free hand to flip the bail lever over. Lean your rod over behind you. Aim at the area you want your bait to land in. Cast your rod over your head. When you are at the peak of your cast, release your index finger and allow the line to run out. When your bait has landed where you want it, flip the bail back over.

Step 7 – Reel in the Line

When it’s time to reel in, choose between best quality fluorocarbon line or braided line, ensure the line is nested on the line roller. Now turn your reel away from you and around, making revolutions as you do. The speed you reel in at is up to you and the reason you are reeling. There are various reeling techniques for different situations that you will pick up with practice, especially for when there is a fish on the hook!

How to Care for a Spinning Rod and Reel

Maintenance is an important aspect of fishing because caring for your gear ensures it works well for you when you need it to. Keep your gear free of dust and dirt. Ensure to wash everything down after use and dry everything properly. For inshore spinning reels, you’ve got to be extra cautious about cleaning after use. Store it somewhere dry and cool. Doing these things will ensure dirt doesn’t clog up your reel and rust doesn’t start to form. You also need to take your reel apart and oil it with a lubricant every now and then to ensure the gears don’t jam in the middle of a prize fish reel-in. I also strongly advise you keep your tackle box organized so you always know where everything is!

If you have followed this guide on how to set up spinning reel correctly you are well on your way to doing what you bought all this for – fishing! Don’t forget to be patient and enjoy every moment. Good luck!

About the author

Immanuel Baranov

My life is pretty much defined by my avid outdoor activities. I’m generally obsessed with fishing, skiing and occasional hunting and whitewater paddling. I’ve been active since my early years. I inherited my passion for fishing from my father who made frequent family trips to the banks of Sacramento River. Growing up, I did a lot of fishing in the vicinity. Now that I have two sons, our weekends are full of fishing activities. I would say, you need good spots where you can go out a lot for the thing you love. I had the privilege to grow up near numerous water bodies and I’m proud to say that I made good use of them. It’s also great to do something with kids that helps them learn patience, endurance and preciseness.

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