Do Fly Fishing Reels Frequently Get Tangled?


When I first got into fly fishing I was getting really annoyed by my line always getting tangled in my reels. Don’t worry you aren’t alone.

Fly fishing reels can frequently become tangled. Different types of fly reels will have more or less susceptibility to tangles. The ability of the user also plays a large role in tangled reels. Often times, more proficient fishermen will experience fewer tangles.

There are ways to prevent it from getting more tangled and reasons why it is happening to you and you didn’t even know why.

Why Your Reels Are Getting Tangled?

Let’s face it, having a tangled line can be so incredibly frustrating that it may make you want to quit fishing. If your line is getting tangled in your reel, which I’m guessing it is, don’t get upset or mad. Even the best fishers get tangled lines here and there.

The most common reason why this might be happening is from overloading the spool on your reel. The problem with the fishing line is that it’s constantly fighting to uncoil itself, which makes it more likely to fly off the spool, even with just a little bit of slack.

Make sure you are putting your line on correctly. It may sound simple but this can really help it from getting twisted, which leads to it getting tangled really quickly.

There is a good chance you have been letting small loops to form as well. Letting the line twist near the tip of the rod is also a lead to tangling.

One thing that I made the mistake of doing when I was starting out was using the wrong line. I didn’t think it matters as much as it did.

If you prevent in every way you can but you are still getting them, it could be from your cast, especially if you are newer to fly fishing. A lot of people throw tailing loops when they are new to fly casting, and this can be a huge issue and make your new hobby not so much fun.

Tailing loops are generally caused by not letting the line straighten out on the back cast. Pulling forward to soon or so hard of the start of your forward cast will cause the line to form a tailing loop.

Make sure you watch your back cast and wait until the loop is unfolded. Then when you come forward, make sure to not put much power into the forward cast until the line is all moving in that direction. Keep it smooth and slow and your tailing loop problems should subside.

Chances are it isn’t all your fault. when fly fishing it happens more than any other kind of fishing. The wind can be a big factor too and that is something you just can’t prevent sometimes.

Ways To Prevent Your Line From Getting Tangled In Your Reel

As far as your spool goes. try not to overflow it too much. putting a little less will really help it not get tangled. Some people like to leave 1/4 inch of spool showing when they spool the line. Others don’t like this because they don’t like the spool to be that un-full.

To me that decision is easy. I would way rather have less line (but still plenty) than to have to try and untangle my line as often.

Putting the line in correctly is super important and will prevent future tangles. You want to set the spool down with the label facing up. start the process by threading the line through the line guide on your rod and then tie a knot to the spool. After this keep pressure on the line in front of the spool. If the line begins to twist, turn the spool over to lay it flat.

Rinsing with fresh water after each use can help your reel last longer and it will help with tangling as well.

Keeping your rods and reels well stored away when they are not being used can actually help with tangles as well. Taking good care of your equipment will go a long way.

Make sure you are casting the right way as well. Having a proper cast can really help prevent this issue. Sometimes a side arm cast can be bad for the line and reel to cause tangling issues.

By angling the reel, the line is less likely to slap the rod or tangle on a guide while shooting out. After releasing a cast and line shoots through the guides, rotate your rod 90 degrees. Turing the wrist so that the reel is now in a 90-degree angle from its casting position can accomplish the resistance and can cut down on the amount of tangle.

Don’t misuse your reel. if you have a spinner it is not really meant to spin. If you are playing with a fish in the line on a spinning reel and the fish peels off the reel, the angler needs to stop winding. If you continue to pull off the reel, it will twist the line no doubt.

If you don’t want to deal with trying to spool it right, just take it to your local shop and have them do it for you. chances are they will do it better, but it will cost you a bit.

How To Untangle Your Line In Your Reel

Having to untangle your line on your reel can be a huge pain in the butt and no one wants to do it.

First, you want to identify the line or lines that are wrapped around the main line that’s running out of the spoil, down the reel.

If you have some with you, get needle nose pliers. You want to then try and grab the knot surrounded by other loose line within the spoil.

Once you get the knot or knots, hold the pliers on them, and give tension to the knot by pulling it up to you.

Pull the main line out, so the spoil is moving freely. And just do that until the spoil of line is tight with no loose line.

You will have to do that again and again for all the knots you have in your reel. After that, reel it all back in and make sure it is tight around the spoil.

If you don’t really have knots but it is just all tangled up, you will want to reel it all out. if you are in moving water or in a boat, you can drop the line in the water and let it take it. If you are on land doing this, you will just have to do more work and walk back and forth.

It is super annoying but the best way to fix the problem is to not get it tangled in the first place and if you do, take care of it right then and there.

It can make fishing not fun but hopefully these tips really help you prevent from having future issues. If you still have issues, try casting with an expert and he can show you more in depth what you are doing wrong. Sometimes we think we are doing everything right, but maybe we have our wrist turned and it is messing up our cast.

Whatever it may be, always remember to have fun with it and don’t stress too much. Maybe grab a cold one and chill for a minute.

Related Questions

How do I put drag onto a fly reel? There is usually a natural mechanism that will put drag on the reel and line, but there isn’t always. If there is not one, then consider a method called ‘palming’ the reel. By putting your palm onto the side of the reel, the line can have any level of drag. Just be sure to watch your fingers as the reel spins.

What does the weight mean on the fly rod? There should be a pound weight listed on the rod. This is not the max weight that the rod can take, but instead is the best pound weight line that should be put onto the rod. This can be anything from 4-pound line to a much higher pound test.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Stripped Bass.

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