How to Restring a Fishing Reel (Step by Step)

For a beginner fisherman, restringing your reel might look to be a daunting task. However, it gets easier with time and practice, like anything in life.

Restringing a rod ensures the line is threaded through all eyelets without twists or snags.

Alternatively, re-spooling is the process of filling the reel back up with the fresh line. 

While you can have your local tackle or bait shop do the restringing for you, it’s always a good skill to have in your back pocket at a moment’s notice. You never know when some of your tackle or equipment might run afoul in the middle of a good day on the water.

Below is a beginner’s guide to restringing fishing reels in a few easy steps.

how to restring a fishing reel
Source: Canva Pro

How to Restring a Spinning Reel

Here’s how to restring a spinning reel.

  1. Grip the line Tip

    Using your dominant hand, firmly grip the tip of the line with your index finger and thumb, holding it tightly. In the event this line slips from your graph, you will have to restart the entire process.

  2. Flip Up the Bail Arm

    Flip the bail arm up with the opposite hand to open it. The line cannot be adequately spooled if the bail is not in the correct position.

  3. Thread the Line through the Rod Guides

    Maintaining your grip on the line, thread it through each guide until you reach the reel. It is imperative that you maintain a firm grasp of the line as it may coil back up and unthread itself, ensuring you have to perform the process all over again. 

    The line should have started from the top and worked its way down if you are spooling. Once you reach the reel, see step 1 of the respelling process. 

    Note: This can be performed from the bottom going up as the eyelets get smaller as they head towards the rod tip or from the top down. This is all dependent on whether anglers are simply restringing the rod or re-spooling it. 

  4. Line’s end

    If the rod is being restrung only, have about 3 to 4 inches off the final eyelet before taping it to the rod or affixing a lure or tackle to ensure it does not return through the guides.

How to Restring a Baitcaster

Restringing a bait caster is almost identical to restringing a Spinning Reel. The only difference is that the line must be threaded through the reel’s line guide before the knot is tied. 

How to Restring a Conventional Reel

When restringing a conventional reel, the process follows the same steps as a spinning reel, with the only difference being that the line must be tied to the reel face, and the reel cover must be on. 


If respooling, the line should’ve begun at the rod tip and been threaded downwards. Once it reaches the reel, the following steps occur.

1. Tie the Knot

After the reel has opened, Mae a single loop around the reel’s face and ties an overhand knot. After securing the first knot,  gently tighten the knot to the reel face before tying a second overhand knot and tensioning it down to the reel’s face. 

Trim away any stray ends of the line with scissors, and you’re good to go. 

2. Flip the Bail

It seems self-explanatory, but anglers will have no way to spool their reel without flipping the bail. Ensure that the line properly seats in the guide under the bail and is threaded properly throughout the rod’s eyelets. 

3. Set up the line

If you have a spooler (it is highly recommended you purchase one ), utilize it according to the instructions that come with it. However, for the sake of this article, it is assumed that all of this is being done by hand.

One method is placing the wheel of the purchased line on an object that allows it to spin, such as a pencil or an oblong object that fits through the center of the wheel.

Alternatively, have a friend hold it for you. It’s imperative that whatever holds the wheel in place is sturdy and allows the line to feed smoothly to the reel.

4. Give it Space

Have the rod tip be several feet from the spool. This allows the line to unwind and provides a smoother feed onto the reel.

5. Reel

Flip the bail down and slowly begin to reel. Continue reeling until the face of the reel is covered with whatever line you are using. 

Check to ensure there are no twists, knots, or impurities in the line at this time. It’s imperative that it is discovered early to prevent any malfunctions or Bird’s Nest later on.

If the line that covers the reel face is free of any issues, continue reeling at a slow and steady pace until the prescribed amount of line is reached. 

Note: each reel will have a limit on the amount of specific lbs test it can take. Reference the manual to find this. 

6. Wrap it up

Once the real is done spooling, clip the line with 3 to 4 inches are remaining outside the rod tip’s eyelet. Affix a lure or tape it in place to prevent the line from unthreading itself and retiring to the reel. 

Alternatively, you can use the Bucket Method to spool your rod if you have neither a spooler nor a buddy. 

In this method, anglers will string their rods and tie them onto the reel face before dropping the wheel of line in a bucket with two gallons of water.

The resistance of both the water and gravity allows for a smooth feed as anglers slowly retrieve line, filling their reel face.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I restring?

Anytime the line falls back through the eyelets of the rod guides, you will need to restring.

When should I respool?

Line gets damaged or loses its integrity due to many reasons. Between the sun, water, and use will eventually deteriorate to the point where it often breaks under the slightest tension. Also, avid anglers will notice that the amount of line on the real will decrease over time due to breaks, snags, and knots. 

These are all valid reasons to re-spool. Paying close attention to the integrity of your line will benefit you in the long run, as it can increase the longevity of both your reel and potentially save you a few of your favorite lures. 

Is a spooler worth it?

Absolutely. Not only does it expedite the process, but it makes it ten times easier to spool as a one-person show. There are many affordable, quality spoolers on the market, and it can put a new line on your reel and get you back on the water much faster than doing it by hand.

What knot should I use when restringing/respooling?

The Arbor Knot. This knot uses as a loop around the reel face with a single overhand knot tensioned slightly followed by another. The line is then tensioned down all the way, and the excess line is trimmed away. 

How do I know if my line needs a respooling?

If parts of the line have changed colors, look brittle, are curling in stiff, unusual patterns, or if the line is brittle overall, it’s time to swap out. Don’t look at this as a waste of line; look at it as upgrading to save your favorite lure or land that monster. 

Jacob Pelle
Fishing Expert
Jake Pelle is a third-generation outdoorsman and Eagle Scout. He grew up fishing ponds and rivers in South Louisiana and Mississippi and graduated to fishing brackish/marsh and coastal waters for redfish, drum, and speckled trout. When not on a flat range, he can be found with rod and reel in hand searching for the next greatest fishing hole in South Louisiana.
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