Spinning Reel Backing: Do You Actually Need It?

Up until not that long ago, I mainly used straight monofilament or fluorocarbon on my rods. Once I switched to braid, I heard you should be using backing on your reels. I decided to test things out to see if you actually should use backing on your spinning reels.

As a general rule, backing should only be used when you’re fishing with braided line. Backing will save you money and will prevent braided line from slipping on the reel. For monofilament and fluorocarbon, there’s no need to use backing on your reels.

I use braid on most of my setups and that’s why I always add backing to my spinning, baitcasting, and trolling reels. That being said, it’s important that you use the right amount and right type of backing. We’ll jump into that next.

Do You Need Backing On A Spinning Reel

spinning reel

For fishing lines such as monofilament and fluorocarbon, using backing is not necessary. However, for braided line, using mono or fluoro backing will perform much better and result in fewer headaches.

If you don’t know what backing is, basically, it’s just line you put on your reel BEFORE your main line. You tie the backing directly onto the spool, put on as much as you need, tie the backing to your main line, and then fill up the spool.

What’s the point in doing this?

If you’re using mono or fluoro then there’s really no point in doing it. You can simply tie your line directly to the spool and then fill it up. Make sure you put enough line on though, otherwise, your reel won’t perform 100%.

If you’re using braided line (like me), you’ll probably want to put backing on your spinning reel. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. It’ll save you some dough.
  2. It prevents the braid from slipping on the reel.

The first reason I like using backing is that it’ll save a bit of money. Braid is more expensive than mono and fluoro, and I almost never use all the line on my reel. If I only ever use the first 75 yards of line, what’s the point in having 150 yards of braid?

Toss on some cheaper mono, fill up as much as you need, and your box of braid will last you much longer. This isn’t the main reason I use backing, but I always like saving a few bucks.

The main reason to use backing is that it’ll stop the braid from slipping on the spool. Braid has almost no bite to it and will slip on the spool and won’t hold knots as well (need to use specific knots).

If your line doesn’t bite the spool, it might not reel line in as well. A bigger fish could even pull out some line even though your drag is cranked all the way down.

Long story short, play it safe by putting backing on your spinning reel if you’re fishing with braid. For mono and fluoro, you don’t need to worry about it.

How Much Backing To Put On A Spinning Reel

As a general rule, you can put anywhere from a couple of wraps of backing to filling 3/4 of the spool. For deep water trolling, having only enough backing to cover the spool is ideal. For casting and retrieving, having 1/2 to 3/4 of backing will be enough.

The amount of backing you use will all depend on what type of fishing you’re doing. If you use a lot of your line then you’ll want less backing. If you only use a little bit of line, having more backing is ideal.

If you’re casting and retrieving from shore or boat, you probably don’t use much of your line. You want to have your reel full (for best performance), but you don’t want to waste expensive line. Filling 1/2-3/4 of your reel with cheap mono will be much easier on the wallet.

If you’re trolling in deeper water then you’ll want to use a lot less backing. Putting enough mono on the spool to cover it once or twice is all you need. Fill the rest of the reel up with braided line.

How much line should you put on your reel? You’ll get the best performance if you fill it up so there’s a 1/8 inch gap between the line and the top of the spool. Be careful to not overfill (tangles will happen).

How To Put Backing On A Spinning Reel

Putting backing on your reel is pretty simple overall. You just need to add one extra step and possibly learn one extra knot. Learn how to tie the best fishing knots here.

The first thing you’ll want to do is grab some monofilament line. You could also use fluoro, but mono is normally quite a bit cheaper. For spinning reels, using 4-8 lb mono is perfect for backing. The size really doesn’t matter that much because you shouldn’t be using the line anyway.

Tie your backing directly to the spool using your favorite knot (I like the Arbor Knot). Put on as much backing as you need and then attach your main line directly to the backing (I like the Double Uni Knot).

You’ll then want to fill the spool up until there’s a 1/8 inch gap between the line and top of the spool. This is where you’ll get the best performance (casting distance, reel speed, fewest tangles, etc).

If you’re using braid, you’ll probably want to toss on a leader as well. Fluoro or mono, it all depends on what type of fishing you’re doing. Put on your favorite lure and land some giants.

Should You Use Backing With Fluorocarbon

For fluorocarbon, using backing is not necessary. Fluorocarbon grips the spool well and isn’t that expensive, so you can tie it directly to the spool and fill it up.

I have heard of people using backing with more expensive fluorocarbon, but I don’t do it myself. The only reason to do this is to save some money. Monofilament is cheaper than fluoro, so if you’re tighter on a budget, you could do that.

Should You Use Backing With Monofilament

If you’re using monofilament line, you do not need to use backing. Monofilament is the cheapest line you can get and will grip the spool well, so there’s no benefit to using backing.

The two benefits of backing is that it’s cheaper than your main line and it grips the spool well. Mono checks both of those boxes, and that’s why you don’t need to use seperate backing on your spinning reels.

Do You Have To Back Braid With Mono

If you’re fishing with braided line, using monofilament backing is your best choice. Monofilament is much cheaper than other lines and will grip the spool better than any other fishing line.

Unlike the other two types of line, you pretty much need to have backing if you’re using braid. Braided line is pretty slippery and will slip on the spool. This could give you poor performance or could make you lose some fish. Plus, braid can be a bit expensive, so cheap mono will be much lighter on the wallet.

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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