Why Put a Backing Line on a Spinning Reel? What Backing Line and When to Use It?

Why Put a Backing Line on a Spinning Reel? What Backing Line and When to Use It?

Adding a backing line to your spinning reel before spooling on the main line is an important step that many anglers overlook. Using backing provides two key benefits – preventing line slippage and saving money on line. If you only spool braided line directly onto the bare spool, you could end up losing fish and wasting money. Read on to understand why a backing line helps and how to add it correctly.

Braided Line Slips on the Spool

Braided Line Slips on the Spool

One major downside to fishing with braided line is that it can easily slip and spin freely on the spool when fighting a big fish. Braid is so smooth and thin that the entire spool might start spinning if a fish makes a strong run.

You’ll know the line is slipping if it keeps peeling off the reel despite having the drag cranked down. This makes the fish impossible to control.

Mono Backing Prevents Slippage

The solution is to add a base layer of monofilament backing before loading on the braid. Mono provides plenty of grip and won’t slip. It keeps the braid locked in place on the spool.

While some reels claim to be “braid ready,” the rubber grip rings often deteriorate over time, especially in saltwater. Mono backing is more reliable.

Save Money on Fishing Line

Quality braided line and fluorocarbon are expensive compared to monofilament. Filling an entire large spool can cost over $50. However, most anglers don’t require 300+ yards of line.

Adding 100-150 yards of cheap mono backing allows you to fill the spool without buying excessive line. The backing also lets you re-spool just the main line when it wears out rather than purchasing huge replacement spools.

Proper Backing Line Size

Choose backing line test close to your main line for optimal performance. Heavier backing mono than main line can cause tangles. Lighter test risks breakage if a big fish takes you down to the backing.

For most inshore fishing, 8-12 lb. test mono backing pairs well with 10-20 lb. braid or fluoro main lines. Match the strength if you need over 20 lb. main line. Having heavier backing than main line is better than going too light.

How Much Backing Line to Use

Add enough backing line to fill around 1/2 to 3/4 of your spool before tying on the main line. For example:

  • Casting reels: 50-75% backing
  • Trolling reels: 50% backing
  • Surf fishing reels: 25% backing

Calculate the yardage of your spool size and main line length. Then add the appropriate amount of backing to mostly fill the spool before tying on the main line.

Step-by-Step Backing Installation

Installing backing on a spinning reel takes just a few simple steps:

  1. Tie backing line to spool using an Arbor knot
  2. Wind on backing evenly under tension to desired amount
  3. Tie backing to main line with Double Uni knot
  4. Wind on main line and trim evenly at spool lip

And that’s it! Proper backing line installation complete. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your line won’t slip and you’ll get the best performance.

Using Backing with Monofilament and Fluorocarbon

Using Backing with Monofilament and Fluorocarbon

Backing line is most critical for braided line. But it can provide benefits with monofilament and fluorocarbon as well.

Monofilament is an affordable line that grips the spool well on its own. Backing is not mandatory for mono main line. However, you can still utilize backing to optimize the fill of your spool if needed.

Fluorocarbon also grips the spool sufficiently without backing. The only benefit is saving money by filling half the spool with cheaper monofilament first.

Spooling Braid without Backing

Although not recommended, you can spool braid without backing in a pinch. Use a layer of electrical tape on the spool. Then tie the braid directly to the spool arbor.

Go slowly and evenly when winding on the first few loops of braid. Wind on the rest normally. This can work to prevent slippage but backing is more reliable.


Adding backing line before spooling main line provides significant benefits for all braided and fluorocarbon spooled reels. The backing prevents slippage on the spool and saves money on line. Take a few extra minutes to install quality backing on your next spool job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best backing line?

Standard and inexpensive monofilament like Trilene XL makes the best backing line for most setups.

Can I use braided line as backing?

You can use braid as backing but monofilament works better for preventing slippage. Braided backing also removes the cost savings benefit.

How do I stop backing line slippage?

Ensure you wind on the backing evenly and under tension. You can also add a layer of electrical tape on the spool before tying on backing.

Is backing line necessary with fluorocarbon?

Fluorocarbon will grip the spool well, so backing is only needed for reducing costs. It’s not required to prevent slippage.

Can I fill a whole spool with just braided line?

You can fill a spool with all braid but it’s recommended to use backing to prevent slippage and save money. Some reels have a rubber ring to help braid grip without backing.

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