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I'm considering moving from dacron to gel-spun backing on one of my spey rods. As with any product, there seems to be pros and cons. My main concern is that I can't seem to find any info on blood knots and gel spun. I'd appreciate hearing your experiences with gel spun as backing and what knots you like to join the fly line to the backing.

Thanks!
 

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You need Geoff Wilson’s guide to rigging braid, Dacron and Gelspun Lines. I use a double strand Bimini Twist. I use a sleeve of thin tubing (Larva Lace) where the gelspun loop joins the fly line loop to keep the gelspun from cutting though it. Unless you use a knot for gelspun, you can lose more than 50% of it’s breaking strength. It’s a pain in the ass to learn these new knots, but I’ve got fifteen plus reels strung with it. It was the only way to get spey line on reel with enough backing.

One other note, gelspun will discolor fly line where it touches on the reel.
 

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loco alto!
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I have GSP on a few salt reels, not the biggest fan of the stuff. I also use the double bimini, 70 turn, at the recommendation of salty knot-heads.

A long ways back Per Stadigh indicated here that he simply uses a surgeons knot (4 or 5 turn, I think) in GSP. If your GSP starts at 50 lb, losing 50% of strength is probably ok for most FW fishing.
 

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Yeah, I think that is the general consensus. Any knot will reduce it's strength so if you use 50#, then you can assume around 25# breaking strength. I also use a bit of Softex to give it just a tad bit more strength.
 

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Matt, curious if you tie a double surgeons after the bimini to give a 4 strand loop - I would think this would help stop any cutting. Or are you using the Larva Lace on a single strand?

I have always just tied the double surgeons into the bimini loop. I have seen some folks slide on a braided dacron loop over the bimini and nail knot below the bimini knot for a bit smoother connection
 

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I tie the thing from the beginning as a double strand. Make a double strand, thread the Gsp through the Larva Lace where the loop should be and then tie the Bimini knot. The Bimini is a little thicker with the double strand but it works. Here is a photo at the loop to loop connection (Gsp backing to fly line). Note the fly line has a braided mono loop. I make the Bimini very large so that a coiled fly line can fit through it when attaching loop to loop. Makes it easier to exchange line on the same backing or reel.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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Back when gel spun backing first hit the market, I loaded several reels with it (this must be 13 or 14 years ago). To attach it to my fly lines, I used a short 6"-8" section of braided mono (30# or 50#) that was placed over the fly line with 3" or so of gell spun layed along side the fly line. The braided mono had about 1" of only fly line and about 2" of only gel spun on either end. I used tying thread to lock the ends to the line and the gel spun and also used tying thread to cover about 1/2" of the middle area where the gel spun and fly line overlapped. I coated the thread wraps only with very thin aquaseal. I never had one come loose, even on 35lb kings and 20lb chums.

On two lines, I used a uni-knot (double the gel spun to make it secure and insure it won't slip) on both the gel spun and 30lb dacron to tie them together. I made the uni-knot on the gel spun with the 30lb dacron in the center of the uni-knot loop, and pulled the knot tight. I then made another uni-knot on the 30lb dacron with the gel spun in the middle, and pulled it tight. The final step was cutting off the tag ends and then simply pulling the lines so that both uni-knots were butted up against one another. I never had this know slip of break either. I attached the short dacron portion to my fly line with an Albright knot. This was far easier and took less time than the braided mono method and was just as strong.
 

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GSP/#50 braided mono connection

My set-up is a 50lb Gudebrod braided loop on the flyline to which my GSP single-strand, Bimini-twisted backing(loop) is attached, loop to loop. The system is very smooth through the guides, but, untested. I doubt the GSP will cut through the 50lb. Gudebrod. Mmmmm?
 

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Maxg

from NZ has a great way of making the attachment

I lost Max's picture from my hard drive, so I can't post it. Basically you run the spectra through the braided material, then make the loop in the braid in the usual way(including the GSP). Apply a drop of superglue (Max specified a loctite brand) to the section of braid and GSP below the loop. I close the free braid end around the GSP with tying thread, cut any free ends and coat with aquaseal. You now have GSP running into a braided loop, coaxially. The braid protects the GSP from itself and anything it might be attached to, like fly line. You also have 100% strength.

Sure wish max would post another picture. It is very easy to do.
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Saugeen101

Saugeen101-
Asking advice before diving into the gelspun world was a good decision. Matt’s suggestion regarding Wilson’s book is right on. "Geoff Wilson's Guide to Rigging Braid, Dacron and Gelspun Lines" is published by Frank Amato Publications.

Some knots to avoid with gelspun [data per Geoff Wilson]:
- Blood knot: retains about 40% of stated breaking strain
- Spider hitch: retains less than 50%, as low as 36%
- Palomar: around 50%
- Albright: 30%

More from Wilson’s book:
Recommended loops are Bimini Doubles.
Doubled uni-knots [same as opposed nail knots] test around 50%.

Loop to loop connection recommended is a ten-fold Cat's Paw [98%].

For attaching GSP to reels Wilson recommends a double turn around the arbor with a 12-turn uni-knot.

The gelspun discussion a couple of years ago on speypages.com included Per Stadigh’s observation that strong knots are very important for salt water applications, and perhaps less so for fresh water.
 

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Swinger of Flies
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I converted to gel spun a while back as well. I use a double surgeons knot, but I fold it a couple times and end up with a double surgeons that has 4 loops. I loop connect to a 50lb braided loop that I nail knot with mono in 3 places to the fly line. Then I soaked it with flexible cement. Its a bit akward going through the guides but works pretty well for me.

That larve lace trick is pretty cool. GSP is supposed to cut pretty bad. I'm sure mine will be tested pretty good in AK this summer.
 
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