While it might not be the flashiest tool in your arsenal, a good fishing line spooler can save you from serious headaches.
No more threading a pencil through the spool and trying to grip it with your toes as you wind the line!
Fishing line spoolers and winders allow you to quickly and effectively spool line to a spinning, baitcaster, or fly reel. You can also use them in reverse to remove old line to a spare spool for storage.They can also be used without someone else holding onto the spool, so there’s no need to bother your significant other!
I’ll break down some of the best spoolers on the market, how to pick the right one for your needs, and briefly explain how to use them.
Quick Answer: 5 Best Fishing Line Spoolers
Why do you need a fishing line spooler (winder)?
Why do you need a fishing line spooler – can’t you just use a pencil?
While a pencil can get the job done in a pinch, a dedicated line spooler makes the job much easier. Spooling by hand often leads to tangles, twists, and knots.
Many line spoolers eliminate these twists entirely by rotating the spool as it unwinds, matching the direction of the feeder spool and the reel. Some models feature portable mounts that attach directly to your rod or reel, making them great for longer trips where you may need to swap out line.
Line spoolers can be used with both wide and narrow spools of mono, braided or fluorocarbon line. Most will work with a wide variety of reel sizes, from the smallest ultralight spinner up to the beefiest trolling reel.
They’re also fairly inexpensive, so adding one to your fishing arsenal is a great value.
Top 5 Fishing Line Spoolers
How to pick the best fishing line spooler?
With so many different features, types, and configurations, picking the best fishing line spooler can seem like a confusing task. I’ll break down what you need to know to help you choose the ideal line spooler for your needs.
Line spoolers have a maximum spool width that they can fit.
They typically vary from 1.75” to 5.5”, so make sure your spools of fishing line can fit inside any spooler you’re interested in. If you typically buy bulk sized spools, then going with the largest spool capacity available is a smart idea.
Many line spoolers are also able to hold two separate feeder spools at the same time. This is highly useful when you need to add backing and main line to a reel in one shot. Going with a wider spool capacity also makes sense in this case.
There are a wide variety of mounting options when it comes to line spoolers. Some utilize c-clamps or suction cups to mount to a flat surface, while others feature reel seats or rod clamps to attach directly to a rod/reel.
The ideal type for you will mostly depend on where you plan to use the line spooler.
If you want one that’s highly portable, and can be used on a boat, kayak or shoreline, then go with the portable style that attaches directly to the rod/reel. On the other hand, if you plan to use the spooler at home or in your garage, then a c-clamp style will work well.
I’d recommend avoiding suction cup mounted spoolers, as they tend not to mount as well as the clamp types.
Adding tension to your line as you spool is an important feature of any line spooler. Line tension is what prevents your line from creating bird’s nests or backlash when you cast.
Loosely spooled line can also damage the rest of your line during casts, hooksets, and snags by digging into the line still in the spool.
Line spoolers allow you to adjust the amount of tension by turning the knob (or knobs) that hold the feeder spool in place.
Most line spooling stations can spool line to spinning, baitcasting, trolling, and fly reels. While they’re all able to wind line fairly well, some are more effective than others.
One feature to look out for is rotating arm grips that allow the feeder spool to turn freely as you wind in line. This feature is designed for use with spinning reels – it essentially eliminates line twists from developing.
Clamp-style spoolers typically don’t have this feature, so you’ll have to ensure you set up the feeder to avoid line twists. For baitcasting reels, the line should come off the top of the feeder spool, for spinning reels it should come from the bottom of the spool.
How to spool fishing line?
Spooling line to a fishing reel is a pretty straightforward process, but there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you avoid line twisting and unnecessary malfunctions.
The first step is to open the bail (the little wire arm that flips up and down) and tie your line to the spool with an arbor knot. Next, cut off any tag end remaining with a pair of scissors and close the bail.
Then attach your spool of line to the line spooler (if it’s not already attached). If you’re using a spooler with a fixed axle, then ensure the line is coming off the bottom of the feeder spool. If you’re using the type with a rotating spool grip, make sure it’s set to rotate.
Turn the knob that holds the feeder spool in place until there’s a slight amount of pressure being applied on the line. Now crank the handle until your spool is about 1/8th inch from the rim. It’s important not to underfill or overfill it, as this can make casting difficult.
Although baitcasting reels are more challenging to master than spinning or spincast reels, they’re actually easier to spool by yourself.
To spool line to a baitcasting reel, start by wrapping your line around the spool and tying an arbor knot. Then trim the tag end as close to the knot as possible.
Next, attach your spool of line to the line spooler (if it’s not already attached). Make sure the line is coming off the top of your feeder spool.
Ensure there’s a constant pressure applied to the line as you spool. Next, wind in the line until your reel is about 1/8” from the top of the spool mounts. You can add more, but make sure no part of the spool comes in contact with the reel body.
If you’re using braided line, you’ll need to add a length of mono or fluorocarbon line directly to the spool as backing. This prevents line slippage and provides a stable base for the braided line. You can attach this backing line to the braid with an Albright knot or a double uni knot.
Check out my review of the best fishing knot tying tools to help you tie any knot with ease.
Whenever you’re un-spooling old fishing line it’s a good idea to use a wet washcloth to rub off any gunk, dirt, or salt that’s built up over time. This will go a long way to preventing line deterioration and will extend the life of your fishing line.
Spooling or unspooling line presents a perfect opportunity to perform some basic maintenance on your reels.
To keep your reels in top shape, simply remove the line spool entirely, and rub down all surfaces of the reel with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol. Then apply several drops of fishing reel oil to the bearings, roller assembly, bail arm assembly and handle.
If you’re interested in an in-depth explanation of fishing reel maintenance, check out my detailed breakdown of fishing reel grease and oil.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.