Connecting The Backing To Your Reel Spool;

flytie09

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I wanted to share a lesson I learned the hard way today. That being.....don't trust anyone else with your knots. Period. Something as simple and important as a backing knot. The proper knot (there are several) is apparently foreign to many anglers, not just fly anglers.

I had a reel this fall during my annual Steelhead trip where the line suddenly began free spinning on the spool. It was actually the second time this reel did this to me. I just thought I might have dunked it and got it wet and was not wound on tight enough. Pulling off 200 yds of backing is never fun. I stripped 200 yds off and re-wound it tight while standing in the river......but I never went all the way to the backing knot. Shame on me. I had to cut off 100 yds of it the last time it happened as it got twisted up in some sticks and it was getting dark.

I bought the reel used, a Hardy St George Hotspur. It came with this slick orange backing...and alot of it.
Well....today I had some free time and remembered I wanted to make sure I had backed off the drag on the reels I had used and to see what the heck was going on with that Hardy.

Once I had all of it off........what did I see? Someone had tied a long double surgeons loop and doubled the spool back through the knot and wound the backing on like this. You gotta be kidding me. I wound on that missing 100 yds of backing I had to cut off...this time I used Dacron which isn't as slick and used a good old Arbor knot and wound the line on tight as evenly as I could.

Don't make assumptions with your knots. Either have a shop do it for you that you trust ..or do them yourself. Inspect all knots if you buy a used reel and it comes with line or backing. Unless someone was being a prankster.......this is why I preach learning your knots. Otherwise it's (k)not fun. :drum::ranting3:
 

trev

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That loop method was in a fly fishing magazine at least once, because I saw it at did it and later had to do it over. Some famous guy that I don't recall recommended it. Probably in the early eighties, cause I dropped all those when I moved in '85.
 

Ard

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It works slick Trev, I do a lot of reel setups for guys considering I'm not a fly shop. Only trick is getting it tied in the correct direction so it doesn't rotate around the arbor when you try starting it.

Essentially that is the same knot I use to connect my flies to my tippet …. sorta.
 

sweetandsalt

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flytie, Even when I have a respected shop spool me up on their winder with backing, I politely insist I tie my own arbor knot. They generally respond, "sure, I like to tie my own knots too".
 

Southerncaster

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I like the knot in the video and will try it. I've used a uni knot to tie onto the arbor for as long as I can remember, but haven't tried it with the extra loops.
 
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Ard

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I have found that the real advantage of the 2 or 3 passes of line around the arbor before tying the knot to be that there is no slippage / rotation when you begin loading the reel.

Realistically though, if you ever get to the point where a fish of any sort has stripped the entire fly line and all the backing down to the knot …. I don't think that your choice of knot will matter much because something's gonna break.
 

dynaflow

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I don't mean to be pedantic but I've been using this method for twenty years and learned it from Peter Morse's 1999 book "Saltwater Fly Fishing Fundamentals" Page 28) Peter also has a brilliant instructional video "Arbor to Fly" that covers the entire rigging process.I still refer to it to this day.
 

Rip Tide

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I have to agree with Ard
It don't matter what knot you use as long as you're able to wind on your line
If you're ever at the point where you're down to that knot as you're last defense, you're ****ed no matter what you have.
 
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sweetandsalt

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"If you're ever at the point where you're down to that knot as you're last defense, you're ****ed no matter what you have."

Except this is not the knot you want to have fail in such a situation.
 

Ard

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Some of these guys Richard, are still using 25 pound test for salmon fishing. When you have a tippet that heavy all bets are off I think. I've been managing all species using nothing above 15 pound for going on 25 years now. I only need the 15 because of my often large flies, lighter mono won't turn them.
 

hatidua

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I was taught, decades ago (in a saltwater focused fishery) that 5-7 turns around the arbor followed by a 5-turn uni-knot was all that was needed. After over 100 species caught in saltwater it has yet to fail me and is now basically a habit when loading a reel, be it a little 3wt reel or one destined for deep blue water.
 

Ard

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Hi Everyone,

There seems to be some misunderstanding among the long time members about this thread so I'll try to clear it up. I posted this for the people new to fly fishing and perhaps setting up a reel with backing line. I didn't make the video and posted this years ago because we had many newbies asking how this is done. This is an example of a member trying to post something that may be helpful to others, if you know better methods for achieving this connection you might consider producing a clear and concise video displaying your technique. If you do that I will gladly replace the video link in this thread with your demo.

Thanks
 

original cormorant

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I can be amused by the futility of arbor knots - if you get there it's already too late.

I'm now using a different method that might be described as knotless. Some spools that I've installed backing on more recently are designed with holes or slots in the centre of the arbor to minimise weight. I loop to loop the backing (doubled bimini loop) to the arbor through a pair of these holes.
 
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Ard

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The best aspect of the knot shown is that if applied correctly there will be no slippage when you start the winding, that's all.

Oh I agree with those who have mentioned that if or when you reach the arbor knot nothing much matters at that point. I have only ever came close on 2 occasions and both involved being under gunned while fishing for salmon. Once in New York's Salmon River back when my big game rod was a 9 foot 9 weight with a Battenkill 8/9 reel and once here in Alaska. The Alaska episode involved a 9 1/2 foot Greys Platinum X in sever weight and a Viscount LA 7/8 reel.

New York dates back to 1993 when I had finally figured out how to catch the 'Chinook' salmon there and the fall of 93 produced some astonishingly large fish. I hooked into one that may have weighed in the 40+ range and it bolted down the river after making its size known with a couple jumps. I stood there mesmerized watching the fly line to backing knot shoot through the guides as if I were stoned. Before I knew it the fish was nearly to the arbor and I was racing down river fast as I could run.

When I came here I became convinced that 2 hand rods were the only way to work the rivers where I fish but in 2005 I was still living in Anchorage and I used to go fish in Ship Creek at the morning tide which usually went out right around 5:30 - 6:00 AM. Ship Creek flows right through an edge of Anchorage and into the Inlet at the Port of Anchorage and many people fish there. This is not the place for your 13 foot rod, not by any stretch so I used my Greys rod. One morning I got myself hooked to a very large salmon, here we call them Kings. I know the joke about fishermen and their fish stories but here a king salmon can indeed weigh over 60 pounds. They are not all that big but getting involved with a 50 isn't a pipe dream here even during bad return years. I was hooked with one that simple stuck to the bottom like a boulder until I managed to move it. Back then I used 25 pound test leaders and I moved the fish and started to bring it toward shore.

That fish showed at the surface and then headed back to sea which was about 1/2 mile away and it was in fact a big fish far to big to be held with a rod like I had but I stood my ground. I didn't want to attract attention by running but the fish had no problems with running. I did not lose the fly line but came as close as I've been for 15 years this spring. Since those days and years I've been mixed up with more big fish than most folks are able to touch and that amounts to practice. Practice can make you good at billiards, darts, basketball or fly tying. I can definitely say that having the opportunity to figure out how to best control big fish every year in numbers will make you better at it. It's been since 2009 that I've seen a backing through my guides and I'm not planning on it this year.
 

cmhfish

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I don't recall this being a topic and if it has been this should still be helpful. It may seem unlikely but I have never known a good and universal means for making this simple connection or back line to spool. I've hacked along my entire life making up a new knot every time I had to back line a reel.

Not anymore; I was about to spool up back line to a brand new reel and as I tried to remember how the heck I do this it dawned on me that the computer could probably smooth out the ride for me considerably.

Video Link Here;

I did it and can assure you it is simple and works well, thanks to the fellow who took the time to post that. Now it's here for reference because I'm sure I'll need it next time I back a new reel :D

Ard
That's a great knot, thanks. I used to use an improved clinch knot
 
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fishing hobo

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I don't mean to be pedantic but I've been using this method for twenty years and learned it from Peter Morse's 1999 book "Saltwater Fly Fishing Fundamentals" Page 28) Peter also has a brilliant instructional video "Arbor to Fly" that covers the entire rigging process.I still refer to it to this day.
Whilst not as long as 20yrs, I did this w/o any reference from the beginning. I am a big fan of the Uni knot as it doesn't cause pigtailing when tying fly on a tippet and it is very reliable so my thought was if it was good enough to hold my hooks for fishing from river to sea, why not just use the uni to secure. The extra loop around the arbor was to prevent slippage when winding on the backing.
 
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