Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: Tackle Tips

Arbor Knots and Spectra-Type Lines

(or how to attach the line to the spool without slipping)

While super lines offer a number of advantages, not least of which is almost zero stretch and enhanced sensitivity, they have several new problems that must be dealt with. The most common problem is slippage of the line on the spool.

Slippage of line on the spool. What are the symptoms? We will frequently have a customer come into the shop saying, “no-matter how much I tighten it, the drag still slips.” In reality, the line is turning (slipping) on the spool and the drag is fine.

There are several simple solutions that will solve this problem.

  1. The simplest is to use a clove hitch to attach the line to the spool, and a small piece of electrician’s tape (Scotch 33) to hold it in place until the line is wound on.
  2. Our preference is to first use Dacron backing on the spool, then spool the super line on top of the Dacron.

To do this, start with Dacron (Fly Line Backing). Tie this to the spool with an Arbor Knot, which is really just an overhand knot. Wind this backing on as tightly as possible. Tie your super line to the backing with an Albright Knot. This knot tightens as it is tensioned so it won’t slip. Now wind your super line on as tight as possible. Tight winding with a few radical crosses helps to keep the line from burying itself under heavy loads, so you can rely on the drag.

In addition to the Albright Knot, you could use the Uni-Knots or Nail Knots to attach your super line to the backing, but used in this manner they are not as strong as the Albright Knot.

There are a number of publications available which describe the Arbor and Albright knots as well as other knots used for fishing. Two of my favorites are: “Practical Fishing Knots II”, by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh, and “Tying Strong Fishing Knots”, by Bill Herzog. Maxima Line recently introduced a small free pamphlet on knot tying. See their latest ad in your favorite fishing magazine.

While we have seen these next techniques used, we specifically DO NOT RECOMMEND using them. We bring them to your attention only, in case you might be considering using them.

  1. Super glue the super line to the spool.
  2. Use mono as a backing.
  3. Use upside down knot at spool.


Spectra type, or super lines are much thinner in diameter than monofilament of the same strength. This means that if you are fishing for tuna using a Penn 9/0 reel with 50# line, you can fill the spool with 700 yards of mono, but 2500 yards of spectra. Now should you have 2000 yards of line on your reel. The answer is a resounding NO. The ideal amount of line for this reel is about 400 - 500 yards. Therefore, the reason for backing. This same principle applies to other sizes of reels also.

A further digression. If you have been following along, the next logical leap is, “Do I really need a 9/0 reel to fish for tuna?” Again the answer is NO, but it is not a simple NO. You still need a good drag in order to go to the next step in landing that fish. So what size reel gives you smaller size, with an adequate, reliable drag. Examples include the Penn —-113H, Shimano TLD 25, Daiwa 600H.

But basically, things, they are a-changing. Now not only do you have to think about the line weight in relationship to the reel and rod, but the diameter of the line for the particular line weight, the need to use backing so as not to put too much line on your reel, and which knots to use to attach the new lines to the spool and/or backing. Remember, you want the line to break, if you ever get spooled.

One last thought, if you fail to tie the knots correctly in super line, you might loose your lifetime fish. Or, as one of our customers who tied a upside down knot when attaching spectra to the spool found, it was so strong, too strong, that when he reached the bottom of his spool, the knot did not break. He watched his custom tuna rod and 4/0 Accurate reel go overboard because the knot was so strong that instead of breaking and loosing just his line to the fish, he lost his rod and reel as well. (that was an $800.00 wrong knot)

This Tackle Tip offered Ron Crandall of Ron’s Reel Repair