Spooling Up With Enough Fishing Line

Photo &copy, Ron Brooks
Braided fishing line on a spinning reel. Photo &copy, Ron Brooks

I do a lot of light tackle fishing. I fish inshore over 50% of the time and I have tackle specifically designed for that purpose. I even have two separate tackle box systems. I put the tackle in the boat that matches the fishing I plan to do that day. Most of my inshore tackle – rods, reels and line – is under 15 pound test. It’s light line and as such it is thin. But the reels are small and usually only hold 100 yards of line, and usually much less.

Do I need more line than that? And, if so, how much line do I need?

Spool Size

Spinning reels sometimes come with two spools; one that has a low capacity and one with a high capacity. The idea is to load light line on the small spool and heavier line on the larger spool. But, either some people don’t realize that or the reel only comes with one spool. But time and time again I see reels with small capacity spools loaded with heavy line. The sides of most spools will list the line capacity of that spool using various line sizes. Knowing what line I have on the spool means I can judge what to do with a particular fish I may hook.

Reel Size

We don’t fish with 130 pound class trolling tackle back in the marsh and estuaries. By the same token, we don’t use light spinning tackle when trolling for billfish. I choose the reel, and the matching rod that I plan to fish with based on the fish I am after that day.
I may carry some 6 pound tackle and I may have some tackle up to maybe 20 pounds. But inshore, I will not exceed that. It makes no sense!

The line I load on a reel has to match the capability of that reel. I have seen so many anglers who load 20 pound test line on a reel made for 6 or 8 pound test line.

Two things happen when they do that. First, the amount of line on the reel is severely reduced. In some cases you may only have 30 or 40 yards of line on the reel. Second, it is very difficult to cast when you have heavy line on a small reel. Tangles happen and backlashes are a common occurrence.

So – How Much Line Do I Need?

Offshore anglers use tackle designed to hold a large amount of line. The reason is simple. I fish with 20 to 30 pound line for king mackerel. A big king can run off 100 to 200 yards of line almost before you can blink your eyes! A wahoo is even worse! So, a reel with a large capacity is a necessity.

When bottom fishing in 100 to 200 feet of water for fish like grouper, the need for line is a lot less. Here you need heavier line and heavier tackle. You won’t usually be hooking fish that can run all the line off your reel.

When you fish with light tackle, you are letting the rod, reel and line work together to fight the fish to the boat. A reel filled with the proper line size and a good drag, matched to a rod that fits the reel, will insure that you have a successful outing. That goes for any type of fishing you do.

Bottom Line

The bottom line here is this: you need the mount of line that is the right size for your reel and that fills the reel. That will vary depending on the type of equipment you are using and the type of fishing you are doing. It’s simple really. Stay with the recommended line for your tackle and keep that line fresh and the spool full. And here’s a tip. Take a small blank sticker and place it on the side of the reel spool. On it write the line size and the date you put it on the reel. That will help you keep things straight and will help you keep fresh line on your reels.