How to Measure Line on a Fishing Reel

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There is an easy way to measure the amount of line on your spinning reel. It involves a marker pen, a measuring tape and some of the basic math skills you learned in the lower grades. It is important to know how much line you have on your reel because all spinning reels come with a line capacity. Line capacity is the length of line a reel can hold and still work to its maximum potential. By figuring out how much line you have on or are putting on your reel, you can ensure your reel works its best.

Things You'll Need

  • rod and reel
  • fishing line
  • black marker pen
  • tape measure
  • friend
  • Unspool all your line if you already have it on the reel. Tie the end to something that will not give and proceed away from that point until nearly all the line has come out of the reel. If you are simply replacing old line with new or adding line onto a brand new reel, then thread it though the rod guides down to the reel and tie it to the spool.

  • Take a marker pen and mark the line where it sits at the top of your fishing rod, at the top rod guide. Make the mark dark enough so that you can easily distinguish it. You also can tie a string to the line at that point to make that point on the line much easier to find.

  • Tell someone to keep tension on the line coming out of the reel as you make one--and only one--complete turn of the reel's handle. Have her retain the tension on the line as you measure how far the point you marked at the top of the fishing pole has moved down toward the reel. This is how much line went onto the reel with a single turn of the handle.

  • Multiply this number by 10. For example, if one complete turn of the reel puts 18 inches of line around the spool, then you know that 10 turns puts 180 inches, or 15 feet, onto the reel. You now have the means to measure how much line you have on the reel or are going to spool onto the reel. For every 10 turns you make, you know you add 15 feet of line. By keeping track of the number of turns you crank the handle, you can put on the amount of line you desire or figure out how much you already have on as you reel it back in, walking to the point where you first anchored it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look for your line capacity on the reel chassis. It will come in a ratio such as 4/180, which means that the reel works best with 180 yards of 4-pound test line
  • The typical spinning reel will have various line capacities listed on it for differing pound test monofilament fishing lines. The heavier the pound test, the less line you will add onto the reel.

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