20 lbs dacron vs 35lbs gel spun? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: 20 lbs dacron vs 35lbs gel spun?

03-12-2012, 08:30 AM

I'm considering what to use for backing on my 10 weight for tarpon mainly. I think the reel will hold about 300 - 350 yards of 35 lbs gel spun or 20 pound dacron. Is it worth the extra 20 or more dollars to get the gel spun? I can't see ever exerting more than 20 lbs on a fly rod.

03-12-2012, 08:39 AM
FWIW, I personally can't use anything less than 30# dacron or 50# gelspun because of the thin diameter (vs strength) but it's personal preference.

03-12-2012, 09:34 AM
Same here. Especially for tarpon.

03-12-2012, 10:27 AM
I have to admit I enjoy that nervous joy when a big fish runs miles of the thin stuff out there and you have no clue where your fly line is or when you might see it again...

03-12-2012, 11:07 AM
thanks. I guess I just have to think about it.

03-12-2012, 02:49 PM
I was originally thinking I wanted at least 300 yds of backing on this reel. it says it hold 250 of 30 # dacron. Do you think that would be enough? 250 yards is a lot.

03-13-2012, 08:11 AM
IMHO, a 10wt rod is really suited to a tarpon that will rarely take 250 yards. A fish that will pull two and a half football fields of line away from the boat should probably be on a 12wt.

Also I would consider the arbor diameter, since one of the biggest problems with having lots of line out is the reduced cranking speed when you need it most.

I would gladly sacrifice yards for bigger arbor because in most cases the old school high capacity backing yardages were to increase the operative diameter of the line so you didn't lose cranking power.

If you have the tippet end of the line at the outer edge of the spool and 250 yds on a large arbor you have a working 10wt system for mid-sized tarpon.

03-13-2012, 08:38 AM
Even five years ago I would have made an identical comment. However, I sold my last 12 weight at about that time and have used nothing but 10's since then. I spent seven weeks fishing for tarpon last year in the Keys including four weeks during "tarpon season." Two things are factors in making it work. Number one, you really have to know how to fight big fish. I think a lot of people think they know how, but find out differently when presented with a 100#+ tarpon. Secondly, you have to realize that not all 10 weights are the same. A Sage Xi3 will do the job in the right hands, while the TCX is marginal. The TFO TiCr and TiCrX will do the job well, the BVK less so. The Loomis GLX Crosscurrent will do the job quite nicely, the original GLX maybe not. Most of it has to do with strength in the butt. My favorite tarpon rod is the Beulah Bluewater 10/11 which will handle virtually any tarpon very nicely (it's my oceanside rod) whereas the Beulah Guide 10 weight won't get the job done well on triple digit fish. Although he feels this way for different reasons, Lefty has been quoted as saying he recommends 10 weights for most tarpon fishing. He feels that most guys can't cast a 12 weight well enough to even be able to get a fish on it. The right 10 weight rod, a reel that holds at least 225yds of 30# Dacron or 50# GSP, and a well designed tarpon line will land any tarpon hooked if one knows how to fight the big boys (usually girls.) Jimmy Nix told me years ago that 225yds of backing was enough. If you find out you need more your guide isn't doing his job. I've never come close to having that much backing out, and I've caught quite a few poons over 100#.

03-13-2012, 09:30 AM
A lot of insight there JR.

I defer to your experience, I've always pulled my fly away from any poons over 60-70# and like the 40-50# fish the best.

03-13-2012, 12:25 PM
I like the 10's for tarpon, that's never been a problem for me. I'll use a 12 in a lot of wind but that's about it. Even last month using a 9 I boated one fish that was around 130#. I just wanted to hear what you guys had to say about backing as this reel I'm rigging has less capacity than some of the others I've used. Thanks for the input.

03-16-2012, 08:21 PM
I like gel spun because you can pretty much guarantee you'll always have enough backing. I just put 500 yards of 30# gel spun on my 11 wt reel/rod setup, and I could have fit a couple hundred more yards. Personally I'd like something heavier than 20# on anything bigger than a 10 wt. I could see sticking with 20# on a 10 wt.

03-21-2012, 07:38 AM
50# power pro might be a good comprimise if you are concerned about capacity. If you go for it make sure you wind it on to the reel as tight as possible using a heavy glove or some kind of tensioning device on the service spool. Surprisingly few fly shops know how to get this right.

03-21-2012, 12:44 PM
thanks that's a good idea

03-21-2012, 04:40 PM
I agree with the following caveats. Gel spun would on tightly works well when battling a fish where the backing goes back on every bit as tightly (billfish would be an example.) The problem comes when battling a fish like bonefish where the backing can go back on rather loosely as one is cranking like the blazes to keep up with a fish that's turned around to run back at you. It is nearly impossible to get the backing on tightly enough with those species. That causes two problems: One, layers of loose backing allow backing on top of it to slip down and get imbedded and that becomes a knot when the fish takes it off again. Second, if quite a bit of the backing ends up going back on rather loosely it'll take up considerably more room on the spool and that could mean not having enough room to get the full flyline on again. Don't laugh or scoff at this as I've seen both of these happen more than once. Of course the second problem can happen with Dacron backing, too, but most of us don't crank that on nearly as tightly as we could which virtually eliminates the problem. I've all but given up on using GSP for flats fishing. It simply is not worth the hassle. One almost never needs as much backing as the books and magazine articles suggest. I've been doing this for 26 years now and have caught numerous tarpon over one hundred pounds and several bonefish over ten pounds and have never had anywhere near two hundred years of backing out. Billfish have done it numerous times, and I even had an Atlantic salmon get well over two hundred yards on the Restigouche a few years ago (which was seriously aided by current.) Just last February I had a 50# spinner shark take a measured 390yds of GSP off Palm Beach in one long run. But tarpon, bonefish, permit, redfish will virtually never do it. Stick with Dacron and the like and wind it on firmly but not ridiculously tight. $0.02.

03-22-2012, 07:37 AM
I like my backing heavier than the lightest part of the leader and tippet. If I'm using a 20 tippet and I'm into my backing I don't want my backing to break before my tippet and lose everything. Additionally if you use a loop to loop to attach your backing to the fly line use a bimini twist, it makes a huge difference.

04-06-2012, 12:54 PM
Like what JR Spey is saying here. Good stuff. Listen to the man.

However, I have had a situation where I almost lost a very nice fish because it ate the fly in such shallow water we couldn't effectively motor after it and poling was simply not fast enough. I had on 230 yds of 30# dacron and the extra 30# was on there because I made the guy behind the counter do it. He said any tarpon that would take more than 200 was a fish I was going to lose anyways. Well, by the time we were actually in water deep enough to crank up I was seeing spindle and getting very angry at the guy behind the counter, who'd talked me out of GPS. Anyways, I did land that fish, a 100+ pounder on my #9 in about 20-25 minutes. The rod could handle it, no worries, and I stuck it to that fish. However, the initial situation demanded a bit more backing.

Now, I grant you this is pretty rare, I should have been looking for bones in that depth water, but being (almost) unprepared (almost) lost me that fish, my first 100# tarpon.

So, I've since upgraded to a bigger reel (a #12) that holds plenty of good-old 30# dacron and still balances nicely to my #10 rod. BTW, I agree w/ Lefty about the 10 vs 12 deal. Unless you're like my buddies in the Keys and fish a #12 all the time, you'll probably be pretty uncomfortable fishing with it. Also, you don't really need it for fighting a large fish, if you know what you're doing. Finally, a #10 is more versatile; I can fish it for permit, monster Andros bones, Mahi, or whatever.

04-06-2012, 12:57 PM
I have had permit go over 200 yds while wading. I was (foolishly) using light tipppet (12#) and was looking for bones. I had an old SA #10 reel that held 275 yds, I think, of 30# dacron. I hooked that fish about 30 feet away and it finally stopped with about 20 turns of backing left. Had to wade after it for about 150 yds to regain line. The first permit I hooked went 150 yds straight out over a reef and bye-bye. I was using 14# then. I could go on. If you're wading like I often am, things happen. Also, I've had monster bones take 200 easy, on 20# tippet w/ the drag cranked down. I'm talking strong ocean fish in cool, oxygenated, shallow water and they just GO. Also, I was using GPS at the time and have never had a problem w/ the line burying itself or otherwise cause an issue.

Knock on wood!