Several online guides and anglers out there will tell you that you don’t need fly line backing on your reel at all. Well, I don’t belong to that daredevil group and prefer to be safe than sorry. My verdict: it’s better to have some backing than brag about that monstrous fish you could have caught if you had enough line on your reel.
And that raises the question of the hour, how much backing on a fly reel? To be honest, there isn’t one true answer to this question, and the details are a little lengthier than just a figure. So to clear up all common confusions and queries, I have compiled this list of FAQs to help you get your facts about fly line backing straight.
What Is Fly Line Backing?
Fly line backing extends the mainline that you can use if a fish is running away quickly. The backing line is thinner, saving some space on your fly reel, which you can fill up to catch a more robust fish.
Do You Need Backing On A Fly Reel?
Imagine a strong salmon hooks into your fly and makes you chase it. The river is vast, and the current is fast. You’ll need some backup when the fish peels into your fly line. A fly fishing backing line is precisely that. It prolongs the total length of your fly line and serves as your safety net when you lose a fish.
What Are Different Fly Line Backing Materials?
Technically speaking, the backing is of two types based on its material.
1. Dacron Backing
Dacron or polyethylene terephthalate is a plastic polymer sensitive to heat. It is also used to make plastic water bottles, garments, and accessories.
Dacron fly backing is most commonly used and is the best fly reel backing for freshwater and most seawater fishing too.
- It is cost-effective
- It is hazardous for the environment
- It can crowd your reel since it has a larger diameter
2. Gel Spun Poly Backing
Gel Spun Poly backing or ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene is a high-strength structure due to its long-chain orientation. The same material is used in manufacturing bulletproof vests and car airbags, which says quite a lot about its strength.
When fighting a fast and robust fish in widespread waters, you can use its strength.
- It has the strength to take on tricky species
- The diameter is smaller hence occupies less space
- It isn’t as cost-effective
Fly Line Backing : How Much Backing On a Fly Reel?
And now moving on to our main question: how much line backing on a fly reel is enough to do the job? And the answer is pretty straightforward, as much as your reel can accommodate.
But it isn’t as simple as it sounds. You have to load the backing AND leave space for your main fly line. Typically filling up three-quarters of your spool with backing won’t crowd your reel when you put your fly line in it. It may take a few tries before you get the amount right. But keep one thing in mind, your fly line should not rub off against the metal guards that go around the fly reel spools.
If you are still after a solid figure for how much backing to put on a fly reel, check out this list for specific weight fly reels and species.
Related Post: 20 Best Fly Fishing Reels
How Much Backing On A 3 Weight Fly Reel?
A three-weight is one of the most petite sizes for fly reels. They are suitable for catching panfish and smaller trout with 25 to 50 yards of 12 pounds backing.
Related: Best 3 Weight Fly Reels
How Much Backing On A 5wt Fly Reel?
5wt fly reels are ideal for trout. They may take up 50 to 100 yards of 20 pounds backing.
Related: Best 5 Weight Fly Reels
How Much Backing On A 6wt Fly Reel?
6wt fly reels aren’t much different in size than a 5wt one. So similar amounts (or 50 yards more) of backing will do.
How Much Backing On A 7wt Fly Reel?
7wt fly reels are suitable for giant trout and steelhead. Fill them up with more than 150 yards of 20 pounds backing.
How Much Backing On A 8wt Fly Reel?
Large carp and other bigger fish that you can catch with an 8wt fly reel need 250 yards of 30 pounds backing.
How Much Backing For Trout Fishing?
If the trout is small, less than 50 feet of 12 pounds will do. But for medium to large trouts, you’ll need around 100 feet and 20 pounds backing.
Related: Best Trout Fly Reels
How Much Backing For Bonefish?
Bonefish are giant and mighty. You’ll need around 250 yards of 30 pounds backing for them. Getting a poly spun backing may also be a good idea.
How Much Backing On A Saltwater Fly Reel?
It largely depends on the kind of fish you are after. Have at least 175 yards of twenty pounds backing on you for most shallow inshore fishing circumstances.
While more extensive ocean fishing requires 30 pounds of a minimum of 300 yards backing. Also, a gel-spun backing is crucial since most big water gamefish like tuna and marlin can dive deep and fish like crazy.
Related: Best Fly Reels for Saltwater
Do Fly Reel Backing Colors Matter?
Apart from the fact that a brightly colored backing peeking through the ports of a fly reel looks eye-catching, the color has no significance functionally. You can choose whatever color you like or matches with your fly reel.
Where Does The Backing Go On A Fly Reel?
The backing is the first thing to go in your fly reel. The order typically goes like this: backing, main fly line, fly fishing leader, fly fishing tippet, and fly hook.
How To Put Backing On My Fly Reel?
Tie an arbor knot around your spool. Start reeling slowly so the knot won’t slip. You can also put double-sided tape on the spool to create traction. Once you’ve wrapped it completely, attach the main fly line with a nail knot.
Here’s a video to explain the fly reel backing knot:
So I’m sure I must have answered many of your queries related to fly line backing. In case you have more, let me know in the comments below.
For more reading on fly fishing, I recommend the best fly reels for tarpon and how to choose a fly reel & Fly reels made in the USA