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How To Set Up A Fishing Pole (The RIGHT Way)

Mark Armstrong
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Setting up a fishing pole can be tricky work if you’ve never done it before. It may seem like there are many different components and terms that you might not have heard of. 

But once you’ve learned how to set up your fishing rod it should become a lot easier each time you do it and you should also be better equipped to set up subsequent fishing rods, as well as help others with theirs.

However, because it can be difficult at first, we’ve put together some information to guide you through the process of setting up a spinning rod and reel so you can get out there and start casting. Knowing how to set up a fishing pole correctly can mean more time fishing and less time getting frustrated.

How To Set Up A Fishing Pole - Pinterest ImagePin

What You Need Before You Start

Fishing Line

You can use whatever type of main fishing line you prefer for the conditions where you plan to catch fish and the species you want to catch. If you’re lake fishing in clear water, you may want to opt for fishing lines that are less visible underwater, such as monofilament.

Spinning Rod

Your spinning rod should be suitable for the type of fish you want to target, being a suitable strength for the weight and size of fish, as well as the type of bait you want to use. It can be either a one-piece rod or can be several pieces – or maybe you want more than one in your fishing gear.

This is a useful resource to learn more: https://tailoredtackle.com/fishing-rod-action-and-power/

Spinning Reel

Like your spinning rod, your fishing reel should be suitable for the conditions where you plan to fish, for example saltwater or freshwater, and it should be compatible with the weight of your rod.


Any scissors will do the trick. You’ll need them to cut your line. Or you could use pliers.


Both artificial lures and bait can be used with spinning gear. You will usually find that different lures and baits work for different types of fish and what is working one day for one species may not work the next day, so it can be a good idea to have a variety of baits with you.

How To Set Up The Spinning Rod

Step 1: Clean Your Rod

Before you start, you should make sure your rod is clean. This can easily be done by wiping it down with a clean cloth so that you can remove any sand or dust that might have settled on parts of your rod.

It can be a good idea to pay particular attention to the fishing reel seat and the ferrules if you have a rod that comes in more than one piece, as sand or dirt can affect how well the pieces will attach together. Making sure the reel seat is clean can also mean the reel can attach more securely and can prevent scratches.

Step 2: Put Your Rod Together

If your rod has two or more pieces, the first thing you will want to do is connect the sections together according to the manufacturer’s instructions, so that you have the equivalent of a one-piece rod.

Each section should have ferrules that can allow you to screw each piece onto the corresponding section.

Step 3: Unscrew The Reel Seat

Loosen the reel seat on the rod, located near the handle on the bottom section, so that there’s enough space for the reel foot on your spinning reel to fit onto it.

Step 4: Attach Your Reel To The Rod

Now that you’ve loosened the reel seat, attach the rod by putting the reel foot onto the reel seat. Once it’s in place, tighten the seat. It should be tight enough that your reel doesn’t move while in place but not so tight as to damage the rod.

Step 5: Make It For Right Handed Or Left Handed

Whether you’re a right handed caster or a left handed caster, you will want the fishing reel to be on the most comfortable side of the rod so that you can use it with less effort. A lot of spinning reels will have the ability to be switched for either left handed or right handed users.

Usually, it is simply a case of switching the handle. So once you have your reel positioned securely in the seat of your rod, you can switch the handle to the most convenient side.

Video: Spinning Reels For Left Handed Anglers

Keep in mind that most right handed anglers will usually cast with their right and reel in with their left, so having your handle on the left may be the most comfortable. Left handed anglers may want the reel handle on the right so they can cast with their left hand and reel with their right.

How To Set Up (spool and thread) The Spinning Reel

Step 1: Note The Direction Of Your Spool

Before you start spooling your line, the first thing to do is to check which way your spool turns when you turn the handle. Whether it spins clockwise or counter clockwise should determine which way your line will be spooled on.

The spool on both the line and the reel should turn in the same direction when loading the reel, so that the line is going onto the reel in the same way that it’s coming off of the spool package.

For example, if your reel spool is turning clockwise when you turn the handle, the line should be going on clockwise and coming off of the filler spool counter clockwise.

Step 2: Attach Line To Your Reel

Once you’ve determined which way the line comes off the line spool and which way your reel spool turns, open the bail by flipping the wire bale arm to the other side.

 Now you can grab the end of your line and thread it through the first guide (closest to the rod handle) going in through the guide towards the reel, not towards the rod tip.

Then you can attach the line to the spool on your reel by tying a knot. A simple overhand knot should be sufficient.

Video: How To Tie An Overhand Knot (Very Basic!)

Once you’ve tied the line to the spool you can close the bail. If you have a lot of line left at the tag end of your knot, you can cut this off.

Step 3: Spool Your Reel

With the bail arm in a closed position, you can now spool your reel. Your line will usually come on a little spool, so place this spool on a flat surface so that it will be rotating in the same direction as your spool when you turn it.

Video: How To Spool A Spinning Reel | Bass Fishing Basics

It can help to have a friend with you so you have more than one hand and they can position the line spool on a pencil or other thin object. And the line spool can rotate more effectively as you turn the handle on your reel, loading it onto the reel’s spool.

Keeping the light tine using one hand and your pointer finger, turn the reel handle with your other hand and spool the line onto the reel, in a similar way as if you were reeling in a small fish.

Keep slowly turning the handle until you have plenty of line on your reel. Be careful not to load too much line on there though, as this can cause problems when casting, such as line twists. Stop spooling when you reach around ⅛ inch away from the top of the spool.

Step 4: Set Up Your Line

With your line now correctly on your spool and your reel securely in place on the reel seat of your rod, it’s time to set up your line. Unlock the bail of your reel by flipping the bale arm over the spool to the other side.

Remember to make sure that your spool unwinds in the same direction as your reel. If it doesn’t, you may have to reload it. This can help to prevent your line from twisting or jumping off the spool and can make casting more efficient.

As long as your line is on your reel correctly, grab the end of your line that’s around the spool and pull. Thread it through the first guide on your rod. Continue threading the line through the center of each guide until you get to the last guide at the tip of your rod.

Video: Setting Up A Fishing Rod & Reel Properly

Step 5: Close The Bail

Once your line is through each of the guides on your rod, you can close the bail by flipping the bail arm back over so that it’s on the same side that it was before you opened it to thread your line.

By closing the bail, this should mean that no extra line can be pulled off. If you don’t close the bail, you may end up with loose line winding off freely when not required.

How To Attach A Lure

Step 1: Thread Your Line Through The Lure

Once you’ve chosen the best lure in your tackle box to use for the conditions and species you want to target, grab the end of your main line and thread it through the top of the lure so that the line passes through the lure.

With artificial lures, you will usually have eyelets that can allow you to do this.

Step 2: Practice Knot Tying

Before you tie a knot to secure your lure to your main fishing line, you might want to practice tying knots using a piece of string or a shoelace, as it can be a little difficult to work with thin fishing line.

This way you can feel more comfortable when it comes to tying the knot to attach your lure.

Step 3: Tie A Knot

One of the strongest types of knots, and commonly used for tying lures, is the Rapala knot. This can be a good knot to use now that you’ve threaded your main line through the eyelet on your lure.

Video: How To Tie A Rapala Knot

If you’re using a hook and live bait, you can use the same type of knot or you can also use a Palomar knot. If your working with live bait, this should be attached to the hook, rather than the main line. Artificial bait will often have hooks built in.

Video: Tying A Palomar Knot

So in the case of live bait rigging, your line should be attached directly to the hook in a similar way that you would attach an artificial lure to your line – by threading the line through the eyelet and tying a secure knot.

If you find that your tag end is too long once you’ve tied your knot, simply cut off the end to a suitable length.

You can also use alternative knots to tie line to hooks, such as an improved clinch knot.

Step 4: Snaps And Swivels

You might find it useful to attach a swivel directly to your line and attach the lure to the swivel. This can help to prevent your line from twisting and can be helpful when using lures that spin to attract fish.

> A typical swivel

Similarly, a snap can also be helpful if you plan to use a variety of lures or split shots, as this means you can change lures quickly and easily without having to repeatedly tie knots in your line, as the lures can attach directly to the snap or three way swivel.

> Here’s a snap

Step 5: Start Fishing

With your rod, reel, line and lure set up you should now be ready to hit the best fishing spots and catch fish. 

Casting Off (Conclusion)

Knowing how to set up a fishing pole correctly can be the difference between a great fishing trip and a not-so-great one. Incorrectly spooled line can twist and jump off the spool at the most inconvenient times and cause you to lose a fish.

Now that you know how to set up your spinning rod and reel, you should only be able to blame it on the bad conditions if you don’t catch anything. Hopefully you’ve learned something from this guide and can now successfully attach lures and spool line, even in your sleep.

Help others out by sharing this guide with them. And let us know how you got on setting up your own fishing pole. Did you catch anything good or maybe you just want to share your own fishing tips?

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