Winding backing on reel [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Winding backing on reel

12-31-2003, 09:44 AM
Besides using an electric linewinder is there any way to obtain a nice "round" shape i/o the slightly egg shape I get by hand? At first I thought it was my level-winding ability (or lack thereof). But now I think it may be the rhythm of my natural winding action, which may produce different winding tension at different stages of one 360 degree rotation of the reel handle.

12-31-2003, 10:17 AM
not exactly sure what you mean. can you describe alittle more?

12-31-2003, 10:52 AM
hnl - IMO, not by hand without two people working on it or an ability to mount the reel on a fixed surface so one person can pay strict attention to leveling while winding. A good level surface will be a large number of turns per layer so the backing stays snug and the windings in each layer lay closely together.

12-31-2003, 10:57 AM
In the situation I describe, if you look at your backing through the spool ports (as if it were a window), and if you have the same problem I do, you will notice a slight difference in how the backing "fills" the ports. In other words, one port may have the backing to it's midway point. One hunderd and eighty degrees around the reel, the opposite port will either be filled more or less than the original port. It doesn't happen all the time, but enough to bother me. Sometimes it is really bad, where one port may be filled 2/3rds of the way, and the opposite will be filled 1/3 of the way.

12-31-2003, 11:01 AM
I mount the spool of backing on a tensioning device and the reel on a rod. I level wind, of course, using a finger. I try to "level" slowly and evenly but the results are not always what I would like.

12-31-2003, 11:16 AM
Which suggests you'd be better with a fixed mount and some kind of hand-held power source. Bind down a reel seat on some plywood; take a scrap of plywood and make a spool spinning card with a shaft in it like the one seen in your fishing magazine advertisements.

As fussy as I am, I find it hard to continue to wind smoothly and snugly by hand and wish I'd never started, sometimes.

12-31-2003, 12:00 PM
Check out the Summer 2003 edition of Atlantic Salmon Journal, page 71. There are plans with an excellent article on building a line winder, I use mine to wind backing as well as lines, works great.

12-31-2003, 01:46 PM
Thanks to all. I'll give it a try.

12-31-2003, 08:07 PM
I am of the un-popular opinion that people are way too anal about how the backing is wound on the reel.

Once a fish takes line, and you wind it back with the fish on, all of that work is out the window anyways, so what is the point? Are you going to remove all the backing and wind it back on perfectly after every fish that takes backing? Of course not, so in my opinion, all the special care to wind on the backing when new is really just a bit over-rated.

I am referring of course, to 99% of fishing, not to someone in pursuit of 300 lb YFT.

01-01-2004, 09:51 AM
I agree with you re hand wound backing for just the reason you mentioned. However it's not the machine wound tension that I am looking for, it's the perfectly round shape. When I get the egg shape I describe in its extreme - it causes the fly line to bind on the reel frame at the high point. A hot fish dosen't take me that much into the backing to destroy a well shaped lay of the backing. So it's important to me to get a round shape from the beginning. Also, I am a devoted fan of large arbor reels, so I enjoy the benefit of as high a level of backing as possible to create as large an arbor effect as possible - not because I need a whole lot of backing. I don't think I need much more that 150 yds of backing on a large arbor reel, and I fish for tarpon on the beach.

01-01-2004, 10:31 AM
heck if ya' fish for tarpon!!!,,you must be really winding hard on the downstroke;making the reel go left to right in front,looking down,,why not hook your line to a fence post,then slowly wind it ,and yourself in evenly,use your little finger as a line guide,,02

01-01-2004, 11:35 AM
I, for one, do not like backing wound on by a machine in tight, closely spaced rows. In my experience, backing wound on by a machine in tight, closely spaced rows, has a tendency to "bite" down on itself and not come off the spool when the fish runs. Granted, that only happens with the first fish -- which breaks off -- and then you remove all the backing and start over.

I prefer backing wound on in wide rows, either by machine or by hand. Admittedly, you get less backing on the reel, but it is a much more reliable method. When I am reeling in a fish, I consciously try to wind the backing on that way as well.

My $0.02.

01-01-2004, 12:12 PM
Herb, they must be using that new, " Large Eliptical Arbor,' on those South African reels. ;')

Otherwise, I have to admit I am baffled by your problem as I have never seen such an issue, and all of my reels are spooled by hand.....

01-01-2004, 12:40 PM
it sucks to have a tarpon pull off 100yds of backing, and then break off on a sea fan. winding on the backing by hand is a PITA. I much prefer a machine. All I can say is short of making a device, have a freind help out by tensioning the backing while you carefully level wind. This is the ultimate test of my wife's love for me.

01-01-2004, 02:07 PM
Actually the problem manifests itself on my Bauer's as well. The Storm Reel (South Africa) does have an eliptical arbor that serves to make a fish's run pulsate more - makes the fish feel larger than it actually is. You really should take a look at the reel (

When I fight a tarpon I pump the rod, so the backing is replaced only moderately firm, and I use a finger to level wind - or I just hold on like an idiot watching the backing disappear until the fish is off. Many times I don't even get a chance to reel at all until it's thrown the hook.

This is not a big deal as in a life or death situation. It just bothers me because I'm not sure why it's happening. Part of me still thinks it is the rhythm of my reel hand and not the level winding.

01-08-2004, 08:06 AM
backing needs to be under tension, but also to quickly cross the reel face every layer or so. Watch how one of the better spinning reels wind line and copy with your pinky as you bring the line in. If you don't do this it has a tendency to dig in under tension.

I have had elliptical winding when holding the reel in my hand, but little problem when mounted on the rod. You do need to use the pinky to level the line as you wind it in, or it will build up on one side.