How to Assemble Your Tackle

In order to get the most of your tackle it is essential to set it up in a balanced manner. This ensures that your rod, reel, line, leader and tippet are configured to gain the maximum performance while still maintaining a minimalist profile on the water. Today it is easy for any angler to select components to assemble well balanced tackle.
The fly tackle industry has developed a system of standards when labeling their products to ensure that each is interchangeable. For example, most rods are built and labeled with the proper line weight on the rod. This ensures that any 5-weight rod will capably balance any 5-weight fly line.
This is also common for most reels. Manufacturers go to great extents to inform the customer with regard to weight and length capabilities for any given reel. When selecting your rod, reel, and line it is worth the extra attention in deciding what weight line one is wanting to use. No matter the cost of these items, if they are not balanced they could result with lackluster performance or worse, a broken rod.


Now before you start putting line on your reel it would be wise to determine how much backing is needed to take up the dead space on the reel. Generally there are two ways to do this.
The first is read the instructions that the manufacturer has provided. There is usually a chart that matches weight and length of fly line to appropriate backing lengths. This is generally a good estimation and often times is exactly what is needed. However, some angler’s prefer to have a little less backing on the spool.
To determine this amount the standard practice is to first wrap your fly line around the empty spool then attach the backing to it once it is wound up. Continue to wind on the backing until satisfied with the amount of spool space taken. This could be 1/8th or 3/16ths inch from the edge of the spool for most. The difficulty with this method is that the line now has to be removed and reversed on the reel. One may find themselves walking around the room laying out rows of line and backing in an attempt to not cause a bird’s nest when winding the reel for the final time.
Another good thing to do before assembling your gear would be to practice the knots you are going to use with either an old leader or better yet an old fly line. Really any rope will do.
Lastly it would also be important to note that most reels come form the factory rigged for the right hand. If you reel from the left it would also be advisable to look at the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set that up.

Backing To Reel

There are two main reasons for using backing on the reel. The first is that it allows the fly line to wrap in larger diameter coils about the reel spool. This will greatly reduce line memory as well as allowing the angler to reel in line faster. Also, when playing a big fish it may make the difference between a successful landing after a big run.
The most common form of backing today is made from a braided material known as Dacron. This is sold under many brand names and is a product from Dupont. Dacron backing comes in a variety o strengths. For weighted lines 4 or less a good match would be the 20 lb test while 5 -weight or greater should use a 30 lb test.
To begin, attach your reel to the rod seat. This will allow using the guides to help keep the line moving more efficiently. Once the amount of backing has been determined and you are ready to attach the backing to the reel, pass the tag end o the backing through the stripper guide of the rod and around the arbor of the spool. The most basic connection to attach backing to reel is accomplished by using the Arbor Knot. In the tag end, tie a single overhand knot without disturbing the standing part of the backing line. Then tie another overhand knot across the standing part of the backing line. This effectively make a slip knot with a stopper knot. Now hold the reel in you left hand while pulling on the standing part of the backing with your right effectively snugging the two knots against the arbor.
To finish the step begin to reel the line smoothly on to the reel. Make sure the line is feeding to the bottom of the reel. If not then this would indicate that one is winding in the wrong direction. Make smooth layers while keeping a tight pack of the backing. The next step is attaching the fly line to the backing.

Fly line to Backing

Ensure that you have a few few feet of backing unwound from the reel in order to be comfortable with the next knot. Now unwind 3 feet of fly line from the container. Make sure you have the tag marked “this end to reel”.
To attach the two, use the Albright Knot. Start by doubling back a few inches of the fly line and hold the loop with your left thumb and forefinger. With the right hand, insert about 8 inches of backing into the fly line loop from the side facing you and pinch it with your left thumb and forefinger. With your right hand wrap the tag end of the backing over both sections of the fly line and the backing. Continue moving from your left to right wrapping 10 times toward the loop end. Ensure that these loops remain fairly tight.
Push the tag end of the backing back through the loop so that the tag leaves the loop in the same direction it originally entered. Next pull the standing end of the backing to remove the loop held in the left hand. Then pull both tag and standing section of the backing . Now, pull gently on both ends of the fly line while squeezing the knot down, but not off, the loop ending. Moisten the knot and hold all four ends sections of line. Pull as tight as possible to ensure a tight knot. Clip off the tag ends when complete.
You are now ready to wind the fly line onto the reel. Make sure to keep the line tight and load the reel evenly. When you are done you should have about 3/16ths of an inch left on the reel.

Leader to Line

To form a strong non-slip connection, use a Nail Knot to attach the leader to the fly line. The nail knot requires an cylindrical object about twice the diameter of the fly lie. A tube is ideal for this knot. Grasp both the fly line and tube with your left hand leaving a few inches to work with. With the right hand bring in a large loop and pinch it down with your left hand. Proceed to make 5 or 6 snug wraps around both the tube, leader, and fly line sections. Make sure that these wraps are at least a half inch from the end of the fly line and tube Slide your left thumb and forefinger over the wraps to make sure they hold while feeding the tag end of the leader through the tube from right t left. Next remove the tube from the left and begin to snug the wraps by pulling on both ends of the leader. Moisten the knot and ensure that all of the wraps are smooth and uniform. Now pull hard on both sides of the leader until it bites into the fly line. The pull hard on the fly line in order to further seat the knot in place. Lastly, trim the tag ends so both the leader and the fly line. You are now ready top attach tippet to leader.

Tippet to Leader

While fishing it will be necessary to develop a quick method for attaching tippet to the leader. Arguably the fastest method is to employ the use of the Surgeon’s Knot. Begin by overlapping the leader and tippet for about six inches. Then hold the standing leader and the tag end of the tippet between the left thumb and forefinger. Use the right hand to create an overhand knot with the leader tag end and the tippet. Then pas the tag ends again through the loop just created. Now just grasp all for ends and pull. Before pulling taught. Moisten the knot and proceed to tighten securely. Trim the tag ends.

Fly to Tippet

The last step in assembling your tackle is to use an Improved Clinch Knot to secure the fly to the tippet material. Begin by inserting five inches of tippet into the eye of the fly hook. Then proceed to wrap 5 or 6 turns away from the hook around the standing portion of the tippet.
Next take the tag end of the tippet and pass it through the opening created by the first wrap. This will create an open loop over all of the tippet wraps. Next push the tag end through the newly created loop and start to pull slightly while observing the knot beginning o close. Moisten the knot. Alternately pull on the standing portion of the tippet and the hook until he knot snugs neatly against the hook. Always be sure to give the knot a hard tug at the end o ensure it will not slip.

Cleaning Your Fly Line

After every few trips to the stream or pond it becomes necessary to clean the fly line. In certain waters it is relatively easy to pick up grime and residue that will decrease line performance. In addition there are too many products out there that we use that can have devastating effect when placed in contact with today’s high performance lines. Sun screens, insect repellant, petroleum products and the like contain chemicals that can weaken the outer coating of our expensive lines. Heat exposure as well as back yard casting has also been known to further line deterioration. Much of the distress of these and other items on your fly line can be countered by merely cleaning the line. You won’t believe the improvement the next time on the water.
The easiest way to accomplish this task is to remove the line and soak it for a few minutes in warm soapy water. Dish water detergent is nice and it is oh so good for the hands. After the soak, take a soapy soft rag and pass the line from end to end through a couple of times to remove the residues. Next it is good to treat the line with a dressing. Dressing serves to lubricate the line and preserve its integrity.
The line manufacturers will have recommendations about he best dressing to use. It is not the purpose of this forum to sell dressing so I would go with whatever you see at the fly shop. My personal favorite is a Silcone Dressing by Accardo. It is packaged in a small green container that fits in your gear bag with ease. It is available in most places. It has a small application pad that works well to apply the dressing.
After casting a dirty line, then cleaning and applying one of these conditioners you will not believe the difference in your fly line performance. There are many ways to clean a fly line but the important thing to remember is to keep your line clean.

Storing Your Fly Line

One thing I found to be rather annoying and dangerous while trailblazing through East Tennessee Rhodedendron is that there is always a chance of snagging your line in the thickets. One technique might helpful in lessening the chance for injury or damage to your fly rod. The first part is always carry your pole in reverse when going through tight places. If you have ever gone through a thicket only to have to back right out because your rod was stuck then this will help. Butt first and carry it through. The second involves the actual storing of the fly. This technique works for both rods that have a fly keeper and ones that don’t. The trick is leave enough leader and tippet material to be able to wrap over your fly reel and double back to the keeper. This accomplishes two things. The main thing is that it counteracts the drag of the reel. When you get the line tangled with brush it has a tendency to pull line from the spool as most folks keep the drag set loose in mountain streams. The second is that it keeps the fly line to leader connection well away from the tip top of the rod. Try it next time you are in a close situation and see if it doesn’t help.