April 12th, 2004

How to load a fly-line, and survive.
By James Castwell

Stop! 'R.T.F.M.' (Read the 'friggin manual) Most new fly lines come with a few words of writing calculated to instruct one on the deeper aspects of unwinding a fly-line from a spool. Now, one would not think of this as a major event, worthy of drawing crowds and charging a fee for viewing. But, often it is just that, however not for children under twelve and old people with bad tickers.

We of the fly-fishing propensity are often want to deplore such useless scribing's and dispatch them with no mind immediately, if not sooner, to a circular file or the floor. I mean, we have a new fly-line; exciting stuff, heady indeed. By this time we should have made a decision on backing, that skinny string that ties to the center spindle of the reel and serves somewhat to fill up the bottom space, thusly bringing the fly-line nearer to the top of the reel so it will be in bigger coils and even bump onto the cross members of the reel itself. This is not a planned situation, but, trust me, it happens more often than one might imagine.

Backing comes in mostly two size spools, not enough and too much. Fifty yards might fill up the reel enough, or not. And two of the fifty yard spools (if they can be purchased connected) doubles the expense. Life is a struggle, deal with it. Use as much as you need, I have no idea how big your reel is, soon, you will know.

Having secured the backing to the center spindle of your reel with a trusty 'Arbor Knot' and taking two turns around the spindle (secret only us old-timers know) and having figured out how much backing will be somewhere near the point of a bit too much or not quite enough, tie a big loop in it.

By a big loop I mean big, about ten inches long. Use the surgeons knot for this. Having a loop here will allow you to remove the line at some time in the future for what ever reason you may dream up, justified or not. The reel will pass through the loop if you also put a loop on the end of the new fly line. (We experts call this "Loop-to Loop.") Make it a fun time, find information on how to form a tiny loop on the end of your new fly-line. There is a lot of information available, and some of it really works, enjoy.

You have now entered the scary part, the 'main' event as it were. The 'moment of truth.' How the hell to get the line of off that stupid spool with out screwing it up like the last (few, several, every) times. You should not now pursue medication, liquid or otherwise, a clear head and delicate dexterity are required, and even with all of that going for you, the results are still a gamble.

Fly-lines come in level, double-taper and weight forward, they all have two ends. The end of the line which you seek should (operative word here is, 'should') have a little gold sticker on it reading such as, "This end to reel." It may have been lost. If so, give the line to someone you don't especially like, a brother-in-law for instance, belated birthday gift etc.

Or, you can carefully peek at the coils and try to determine if the end you are looking at is on the top coils or not. If it is (while the small bits of pipe-cleaner are still holding the about to explode coils, gently inch the end backwards. Under first one of the pipe-cleaners, then a bit farther, under the next one until you have been able to convince yourself that indeed you have the end destined for the reel. Time now for that tiny loop.

Tiny loop? Yes, on the end of the fly line. Some tie the fly-line directly to the backing (if so, use the Albright knot) Neatness counts here, the only time this connection will go out through your rod guides is when you have a nasty fish on it, or have snagged a bus on your back-cast. Either way, be tidy, you will thank me, do a good job of the loop. To assemble, stick the end of the big loop through the tiny loop on the fly line and poke the reel through it. Pull.

You can now try to fill an inside straight, or cheat and slide an ace from the bottom, since you are the dealer, make your choice. So far, I believe I have made every mistake possible trying to remove a fly-line from a coil and am therefore eminently qualified to give advise. No one with only twenty or thirty years of experience should ever be considered for even an opinion on this subject. My choice is to cheat. Get help.

I (mind you, I have two line winders on location at all times) call my wife. She verrrrry carefullyyyyy takes the coil of line from the package and unties the pipe-cleaners. Then, while breathing very shallowly and controlling her pulse rate, without ever taking her eyes from the coils, turns the coil and feeds the line inch by inch toward me (who is now reeling very carefullyyyyy.) Her assistance is often rewarded with a dinner out, but that is a small price considering she lets me go along too.

There will be those who will try to remark about this on the bulletin board with surefire ways to transfer a fly-line without any troubles, but they will lie. Pay no attention to them. They are just trying to mess with your head. We can put a man in space, but there is no fool-proof method of spooling a fly-line. Period. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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