Backing Question [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Backing Question

03-13-2003, 08:21 AM
How many out there are using Power Pro or other fine diameter Gel Spun type backing? Would like your feedback with the pro's and con's. I am debating switching over but not sure of the pitfalls.

03-13-2003, 08:58 AM
I'll chime in...

for saltwater applications the lines are standard WF diameters and lengths so it's easy to find a reel that takes 200 yd 30#, which is plenty for anything less than BFT or Tarpon, etc.

Therefore I prefer to use 30# which is "meaty" when a big fish takes the fly line to Portugal. That's a distant memory this winter >sigh<

For extended belly Spey lines, Dana has enlightened me on the ways of gelspun, which provides a greater breaking strength and miles of backing while leaving enough room on a reel for the lines that almost fill the reel in and of themselves.

Assuming you are talking steelhead / striper, my preferred backing system is simply 200 yd or more of 30#, but I am curious to hear what others think.


03-13-2003, 09:54 AM
Salt: Cortland; 30# Micron or 50# Spectron; Gudebrod.
Fresh: Scientific Angler or Cortland 10-20#

Can't seem to get on board with gelspun, other than Spectron; tried a couple on conventional and fresh equipment; not impressed at all.

03-13-2003, 10:10 AM
Well I see that we have at least two that are not that big of fans of the stuff.

I was considering on putting 50lb Power Pro as backing on a Bill Ballan Large Arbour that I plan on using on my Spey Rod ( that's still unfinished by the way ). The reason of my curiousity is that if the reel capacity is 300yds of 20 with a 10 line I would put 300 of #50 Power Pro and most likely have pleanty of room for the Spey Line ( Airflow Multi Tip ).

I use Power Pro or Fire Line on all my Salt spinning tackle and really love it. Last longer than mono, more sensitive and you can go 3-5 X's the line size and take up the same space as mono half the breaking strength.

I may just have to try it and learn the hardway.

03-13-2003, 10:21 AM
I was thinking about trying the SuperLine stuff too. Either Spiderwire or something like that. The last time I bought backing, it was about $20 for a spool.... I think the Spiderwire is like $7-11. Maybe i'll save a few bucks.


03-13-2003, 11:40 AM
Mike, just because I don't like it doesn't mean it isn't right for you and others.

Case in point - Dacron backing stretches more; 'bellies' more in the water, and has a somewhat delayed transmission of strike or hook take than GSP. GSP will slice through water (without bellying, really), leather, fingers, ring guides that aren't made of ceramic or titanium carbide, what have you.

GSP telegraphs the slightest touch of energy in the water to the rod tip. The small diameter works for and against the angler; "feel" of every move a bait makes couldn't be more exact. Finer diameter will bury inside itself, on a spool, if not wound on evenly and compactly, and might fray against itself; it's a bitch to try to wind on GSP backing that's been ripped off the reel by a fish, that has just turned and is now rushing the boat, WITHOUT a glove on. Et Cetera.

Sometimes the stuff frays; picks up phosphorescence at night. If it breaks, for whatever reason, it just does it and might not warn you of it's intentions. It doesn't care if a rock gets in the way - you'll only buy a little time before you snap something in the system or it cuts off.

Remember, age, arthritis and cantakerousness aside :whoa: (keeps any of the rest o' ye' from saying it :rolleyes: ), I don't like it, which doesn't mean hundreds of charter skippers and satisfied retail customers feel the same as I. I'd make a point of visiting a bunch of websites, like FFSW and others where the salt bug haunts us, for as many opinions as are available. Lots of people swear by it. In fact, you'll see thread posts of guys who use 50#PowerPro and love it !!!

IMO, YMMV, Call before midnight tonite...Not offered in stores...:smokin:

03-13-2003, 12:09 PM

I would not use fireline as backing because it may damage your rod guides and or your rod. If you've used the stuff you know how easy it is to cut yourself just tightening knot - might want to check with the manufacturer to see what they say.

I like the gelspun on all of my equipment, fresh and salt. Pricey for what it is, but fireline ain't cheap either. Especially good for hyper-large arbor reels (lamson litespeed) that barely accomodate the line and 75 yds dacron. Like the bright color and how the small diameter cuts through the water. Never rots and won't bleed into a clear line.


03-13-2003, 01:00 PM
If you do a search, you will find much on this subject.
Some of my thoughts: If you can afford it , why not?
I like 50# Orvis, SA. and Bionic Braid(from AUS.). 20# anything is too thin. I think it digs in too much. PowerPro is used by many knowledgable anglers and I don't know why it wouldn't work. I guesse I don't like the stiff waxy coating.
I wouldn't worry about it cutting your guides. If you have run so much backing out of you guides that you have to replace them, all I can say is WOW! Spinning reels are running that stuuf through the guides all the time, so that might be different. But I don't think there is a flyfisherman that has damaged their guides with GSP.
As for cutting fingers, I don't think that that is likely. Anyone ever have their backing get wrapped around their fingers? I suppose it's possible...
Large arbor reels benifit from the GSP because they usually can't hold as much backing as claimed. I fish for stripers, bonefish and albies on the same reels, so I like to have a couple of hundred yds. of backing. Small arbor reels benefit too because as backing is taken off, you loose less diameter.
None of this matters if the fish you catch won't take 10yds of backing, but if 40 is a possibility, I would like to have plenty more.
As for the Ballan reel. If it is rated for a ten weight forward, I doubt that you could even get a whole spey line on the reel without backing. Sorry for the bad news.

03-13-2003, 02:00 PM
I did a little homework on the reel and it's WIDE... very WIDE so I think it will take it.

I'll see this weekend. Maybe the Spey Gods will smile on me. If not you will see it on the For Sale Rack along with a J Austin Forbes LA Reel and maybe even a Sage DS2 9wt. May even put the Forbes on the Sage and make it a Combo around $300 bucks ( line and backing included of course )

03-13-2003, 02:27 PM
Eddie, it doesn't need to wrap to cut - just exert enuff pressure the wrong way and it'll do a nice job, like on the first joint on the index finger while you're trying to lay it down flat, going back on the reel.


03-13-2003, 02:56 PM
Oh I know about the cuts. It really doesnt take much pressure and that stuff will go through your finger like poop through a goose! I have been there many of times.

I had Capt. Bob Turley of Northcoast Charters curse me from one end of his boat to the other last spring while fishing off the Gulls. I had a nice 15-20lb fish by the boat and he grabbed the line just as the fish decided to bolt toward RI. Damn near cut him to the bone! Not just once but 3 times in one day. He still gives me a hard time about it when we go out. So be respectful and spool up with mono before you go on a charter it's easier than a trip to the emergency room.

03-13-2003, 03:54 PM
I'll be putting something like 600yds on my 13/14. I used it for all my non flyfishing last season and I loved it for everything but the spinning reel. You do need to be careful to load it smoothly and under tension. It will cut you in a heartbeat - maybe less.

03-13-2003, 03:59 PM
Mike, good thing that couln't happen fly fishing.
Dave, not to be too argumentative, but the line is slippery, not abrasive, so it will not "saw" into your skin. It would have to contrict to cut. Nobody loops it around their finger to level wind. I have let gel spun run through my fingers while taking gsp of with a machine. Not smart, but to get a cut, you would have to do something even dumber. Anyway, I'm not convinced of a threat.
Does anyone have any storys (real ones please) where someone gets hurt with the gsp while fly fishing(as opposed to rigging)?
Mike, 200 yds of 20# is not even close to the capacity of even a chopped spey line.

03-13-2003, 04:08 PM
Why I was thinking of GSP is beacuse I can use 20-30-50lb test and the diameter is less than half of Dacron so I figure I could beat the system for once.

03-14-2003, 08:09 AM
Eddie - I agree that it would be tough to cut yourself with gel spun....but there was also some talk of fireline in this thread which will cut you to the bone in a hearbeat.

Mike - my reasoning is this: Gelspun is the best most durable backing you can buy for all of the reasons above. Backing is not that expensive compared to the rest of your setup. Why wouldn't you try it?

03-14-2003, 09:00 AM
I'll be giving it a whirl this weekend. I'm doing a Saltwater Fly Tying demo on Saturday so I will have it spooled up while I'm tying.

On a different note here I came across a guy on the Internet that is selling Powell blanks @ 35% - 40% off !!! I am picking up a 10wt AXS and a 7wt 10ft LGA blank. The prices are almost ridiculous. If anyone is interested I'll give you his website. The guy is extremely helpful and knowledgeable about rod building and is more than eager to help explain any questions you may have. Also carries many other Big Brand Name rod blanks at very competitive prices.

Oooh! Also came up with a great looking spearing fly this week. It's a rip off of John Glenns Johnny's Angel but man oh man does this fly look real and it's pretty easy to tie. I will snap a pic or two and post it.