Fly fishing can often look a complex sport and quite often newcomers will simply grab a pre-setup rod from the ghillie hut and take to the river bank. For those who are looking to tackle setting up fly rods and fly lines – here is a quick five step guide to get you started.
Connecting the reel to the backing
If you have a backing line chart that came with your reel, grab that as this will help to determine the amount of backing that you require. If you didn’t get a chart or have lost it, simply pick up your reel and wind round the backing so that no more than a quarter of an inch from the edge of the spool if filled. Backing is hugely important as not only does it provide that extra run it allows it reduces line memory by allowing for larger line coils on the reel.With your reel connected to the seat of the rod, pass the end of your backing through the line guide (closest to the rod handle) and begin to tie your Arbor Knot. To do this simply tie an overhand knot and follow the line round the centre of the reel. Tie another knot round the existing backing and with the rod held firmly pull on the knots tight snugly positioning them against the centre of the reel. Snip any excess backing and in a controlled movement begin winding in the backing. With this controlled movement you should be able to make a tight and clean connection.
Connecting the Backing to the Fly line
Grab your fly line and unwind around two or three foot from the end marked ‘this end to reel’. Holding the loop end of the fly line, insert around eight to ten inches of backing through the loop. With the fly line and backing nipped between your fingers, wrap the tag end of the backing over and under both the fly line and backing between your fingers. Starting from your fingers and working out from there, make around 12 tight wraps of the backing over both of lines.Pass the end tag of the backing through the loop on the fly line (do this in the same original direction you done so in the first place) and pull the backing (by both the tag and standing end) through to close the loop down. Be sure to moisten the knot to ensure a tight grip and avoid the production of heat which will weaken the knot. Ensure a tight grip on the fly line and snip of any extras at the tag end of the backing.Now you should have your backing connected to your fly reel and your fly line connected to your backing.Hint: Ensure that you get a tight connection when reeling in your fly line. Get a friend to hold the fly line’s original spool as you wind or alternatively use a vice holding a pencil through the middle of the original spool to wind in your line. Will you remember forever what this line is on this particular reel? No? Use part of the label and stick to your reel so that you will never forget the line type on this reel.
Connecting the Fly Line to the Leader
Many people use different knots for this section, but the one we will use here is the Albright Knot. Place the fly line and leader down in front of you. Make a loop in your fly line and feed your leader through the loop bringing the leader down towards you. From here, tightly wrap the leader round the fly line around 10 – 12 times without closing the loop on your fly line entirely. Feed the leader back through the loop at the end of your twists and moisten your knot before pulling tight. Snip off the ends to ensure a smooth connection.Hint: Some fly lines come with a pre-made loop. Using this technique will ensure that you do not break your loop so that this can be used time after time.
Connecting the Leader to the Tippet
Place both the leader and the tippet side by side on the surface in front of you. Using both the leader and tippet make a large loop – leave enough so that you can make an overhand double knot. Pull both the leader and tippet through the loop and create an overhand knot. Double this movement and before you pull the knot tightly be sure to lubricate. Once again, trim of any excess from the ends.Tip: We use tippets for a smoother connection to the fly. The leader is ticker in diameter and is more expensive than tippet, hence every time you change flies you can simply snip the tippet rather than the more expensive and ticker leader.
Connecting the Tippet to the Fly
The clinch knot is the final step to fly rod reel and line preparation. By using a secure clinch knot, the fly can be securely and discreetly connected to your tippet. Grab the tag end of your tippet and feed a couple of inches through hook eye of the fly. Hold the tag end of the tippet against the standing line and make six full twists of your fly to wrap the lines together. You will have a small loop near the hook eye of your fly, feed the tag end of the tippet through this loop, lubricate and pull the knot tight. Snip off the remaining tippet.
In five simple steps you have set up your fly rod with a new fly reel, backing, fly line, leader, tippet and fly. After you prepare your fishing bag and get all your other equipment organised your ready to take to the river – that is unless you want to tie your very own fly? Check out the related articles below for a quick guide on what’s required to start tying flies – it makes catching the big one that little bit sweeter.