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  1. Default Line Terminology

    I am totally new to Fly fishing. In fact, I have not yet received a setup that I ordered through a local shop, so I have nothing in front of me. I have been trying to read up on this forum as well as other sights so I have an Idea of the basics before I go for my lessons (when the stuff actually shows up). I read about backing, Fly Line, Leader, and tippet. I was real confused about Tipett and leader and the difference between the 2 until I read the recent post about tippett and leader and I understand and it makes sense. Now I need to find out the purpose of Backing. Can anyone help me make sense of this... as trivial as it may be?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Line Terminology

    I'm no expert on this, but backing serves the purpose of giving you extra line in case a fish runs. Some fish take a fly and go; if you don't have backing, they'll reach the end of the fly line and break off or snap the rod. backing is a lot cheaper than fly line and is much thinner in diameter. it allows you a lengthier reserve of line for much less cost than if you strung the reel entirely with fly line.

    A lot of fish don't typically run, but these often do: salmon and larger trout, striped bass, and striped bass-white bass hybrids ("wipers"), carp, and a lot of saltwater fish, judging by the TV shows and articles. A starter rod and reel set-up will normally use 100 yards of backing. Whatever the amount your reel will take, string as much as you can on so that with your fly line, your reel is "fully loaded." It never hurts to have reserve, even when your fishing species that don't run. You may hook a species that does run, and you'll be in bad shape if you don't have adequate backing--perhaps even buying a replacement rod. The people at the fly shop can help you with this and they should have a machine to do it right.

    Backing also helps reduce an inherent problem in fly fishing: the fly line tends to have "memory" from being coiled. That is, when you cast, the line will not be entirely straight as it lies in the water, but will be loopy from having been coiled on the spool. Backing helps lessen this to some extent by making the spool diameter bigger, and thus the loops will be larger and fewer. A good quality fly line will tend to have less memory than a cheap one, by the way.

    If coiled fly line becomes a problem for you, the easy cure is to stretch it. I do it by stretching out 15 ft. or so of line from the rod/reel, looping it around a smooth, stationary object and putting a strong, steady pull for a few seconds on both ends (I lay the rod on the grass for this). Then I pull out a bit more line and do it again, working my back considerable into the reserve amount of fly line. Do this a time or two, and the line will be straighter.

    You can do this with leaders, too. Sometimes, it's necessary to run your hand along the leader to heat it up a bit by friction. It will more easily stretch that way. Just be sure you don't overdo it by pulling too hard on either leader or line.

  3. Default Re: Line Terminology

    Thanks alot for the Reply Flyfisher....It now makes sense. I know I'll probably learn alot of this stuff when I pick up my gear and get my first couple lessons. But my theory is, the more basic knowledge I have, the less time I'll be spending on that. I get 3 - 30 minute lessons for buying the outfit through the local shop. I would much rather spend that time working on casting technique than asking questions I could have found answers to by doing a little research.

    Once again, thanks for the help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Line Terminology

    Flyfisher for men did a splendid job explaining the function of backing. Its smaller diameter than fly line, cheaper than flyline, stretches less, fills up your spool, and keeps you attached to the fish.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

  5. Default Re: Line Terminology

    No one mentioned that the average fly line is only 90 feet long (some are a little longer).
    90 feet isn't very long really. I fish places that I am casting 60 feet to get to fish. Backing is a must. You add that 100 YARDS of backing (that is 300 ft) and you have room to now play, however, that fish takes you through 250 feet of that, it is a good chance (and I say good chance Not a definit) you will loose everything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Central Florida

    Default Re: Line Terminology

    Hi All,

    Here is a little history about fly lines and backing as I recall it. When I started fly fishing the only fly rods available were bamboo and the only fly lines were silk. Early fly lines were woven Horsehair and then they advanced to the silk lines. The reel was sized to hold the whole line with no backing. You had to size the reel to accept the line and to have some space left on the reel. The space was needed so when you wound the line on fighting a fish you would not rub the line on the reel housing. Silk worked OK but it was no way close to the toughness of the lines today. The line designations were by letters designating the size of the line. A double taper line for a 6 weight bamboo rod was HDH The H was smaller in diameter that the D. The lines did not have the sophisticated tapers that we have today.

    I use to buy a HDH double tapered line and cut off the first 30' (I think that was where I cut it) and splice on a G or F size line. This was how the first weight forward tapers were built. The G or F size line was called the "running line" which was the first backing that I know about. It wasn't until the late 50's or early 60's that Cortland came out with Micron and that was when fishers found they could shorten the fly line and add backing. Micron has been the standard backing since that time. Now the new Gel Spun backing lines are finding favor especially with the salt water fishers.

    Fishing with silk lines could be a pain. Silk lines became water logged after a few hours of fishing. One way around this was to use a double tapered line and after a few hours you would remove the fly line and turn it around. After a days fishing you had to remove the line, clean it and hang it to dry. Part of your fishing day was spent cleaning and dressing the silk line to keep it floating.

    Why backing? Backing is not needed for a lot of fly fishing except to help fill the reel. I think the fishers that first needed backing originally was for Steelhead fishing where the fish were strong fighters and would take off down stream. In most cases you could not follow the fish as quickly as it could move down stream and you needed backing to keep from getting lined. As fly fishers discovered salt water and salmon and Alaska the need for backing became common place.

    Thats my history lesson for the day.

  7. Default Re: Line Terminology

    Thanks for the history Frank. I found that very interesting. Haven't been a member of this forum very long but learn something new every time I long on.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Line Terminology

    Thanks for the compliment, BigCliff. Great lesson on flyfishing history, Frank.

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