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I just had a phone conversation about ordering a reel. I asked about backing capacity. My comment when told the amount was: "the fish is lost well before then". My question is far into your backing has a Steelhead/Atlantic Salmon ever taken you? Not how much backing makes you comfortable but how much have you ever used.

In my personal experiences on the Great Lakes tribs that I fish, I haven't gone into my backing but once, and that was a shock.

David
 

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loco alto!
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I don't have nearly the range of steelhead experience that many on this board do. But just a few months ago, a lowly Willamette Valley steelhead showed me 80-100 yds of backing, easy. Hot fish, open water.

I have had salmon spool me to the spindle (nearer to 200 yds) while fishing for steelhead. Again, open water.

Big water seems to be a prerequisite. Unfortunately its no guarantee that a fish will use it. A lot of my winter steelheading is done on small water, where I'd be safe 99% of the time if I arbor-knotted my running line to the reel spindle.

I can only imagine what a hot-from-salt BC bruiser is capable of doing. I am interested to hear stories
 

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mjyp said:
maybe I missed the point, but since you only got into the backing only once, then why worry about it.

50 yds should do you fine. no tarpon or tuna in the GLs.
Not worried about, just curious about the experiences of our PNW/UK fellows.
 

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Mr. Mom
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funny you should mention this, but when I saw that the lines under development by speybum and beula were 155', my first thought was "cool, I can play most fish without getting into the backing on my longest casts!"

I've never had more than 100 yds taken by tuna, sails, or dorado. Steelhead? I can envision times where the environment would allow a big hot steelie to run into the rapids and take alot of backing, like I hear can happen on the Thompson, but I still can't imagine 100yds without "the fish is lost well before then".

I would LOVE to have a personal experience that proves me wrong as soon as possible... Please! :D
 

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Actually, I was going to ask this question. How much backing do you really need. I've yet to have a fish ever go into backing. :(

The only time I've ever had a fish take me to the spindle was trying to catch a bluefish on 12 lb test on a spinning rod.
 

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I had what I think was a rather large king run me until I could see the ports in the center of the spool on an Abel Super 8, fishing from the pier in Lake MI, I believe I had 150 on it. Broke the line when I realized what was happening.

But steelhead on the Muskegon (big water here in MI), never more than 25ft.
 

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It took years, but finally, while fishing nymphs at the lower end of the Railroad Ranch on the Henrys Fork, a studly fish took 40-50 yards of backing. I was delighted until I got it close - a whitefish! :whoa:

Lifetime, I've had maybe four freshwater fish pull backing; never more than above. Until two years ago, a chum salmon went seaward with 200 yards of backing, until it broke off against the empty spool, leaving me the line and the question: why was that one different?
 

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The first fish I ever hooked on a 4" Bougle was a hot hen of about 9 pounds. I had an 8/9 Midspey and somewhere around 175 yds of 30# dacron on the reel. I was so impressed with the Hardy sound that I neglected to look down until there was only about 20 yds of backing left. I then bore down on the palming face and stopped her run. She then did a little jumping display way down at the bottom of a very long run and then she was done. It took her maybe 20-30 seconds to get there and took me over 5 minutes to reel all that line back in (with her patiently trailing).

I've been a Hardy fan ever since. :D
 

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Its the big wide rivers and big fish that put your gear to the test, lots of room to run when you hook a hot one. Only two fish have made me see the very end of my backing. The first was a huge chum on the Skagit that would not stop, I broke it off remembering that a friend lost his whole line trying to land a fish like that :chuckle: The second was on the thompson, it hit so hard so fast I didnt have time to think it had 150 yards of backing ate up before I could think about running which I could not because of the aluminum cleats on dry rocks. Still have a scar on me and my reel fromthat adventure and was a believer inall the stories you hear about that river and its steelhead.
 

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Brian...been there and done that :Eyecrazy:
 

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Here in the GL I have only had one steelhead get me into my backing but not much. MAybe 20-30 yards in. I have had fresh early kings give me a scare once in a while. But when that happens and I get concerned that I am getting close to the end I break them off. Carp on the other hand are a whole different story. They almost always get me into my backing. Especially when wading on the Great Lakes themselves as opposed to catching them in the rivers. Once again if I get a hot one I will grasp the line and throw the breaks on. Either turning the fishing or breaking them off..... :D
 

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This topic has been around for quite some time, and the general view points above cover the ground pretty well. The only thing I'll (personal habit) is a 100 yards of 30# is enough ... byond that all you're doing is filling up the spool appropriately.

Why? Well, the average spey line is going to be a minimum of 120-140 feet in length. This and assume a 15' leader gives you 135 to 155 feet 'to the knot.' Assume you hook a fish and he takes just 50 yards of backing off your reel ... he/she is now 135 +150 feet to 155 + 150 feet away (and probably still moving but TWO HUNDRED eighty five to THREE HUNDRED five foot out from your reel).

Other than a glory story, the odds of you landing this fish are almost zero. Remember, as the fish goes down stream it's not just him your 'fighting,' you need to add in the water pressure against your line ...

Your Toast! :saeek:
 

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Ah but Fred, if one makes a single assumption then I'm not sure your toast verdict holds up. Assuming the fish is running straight downriver and you are keeping direct pressure to it, the line will not be subject to significant current pressure. In cases where the fish runs across the river or down and across, then the physics get a little more complicated. When this happens, it is time to be thankful for 15# Maxima. :)
 

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Back me up Scotty

My first, second, fourth and fifth of five Thompson river steelhead I ever caught all took 150+ on the first run, all hooked at the top of the Y hole where they seemed to go right over to the white water and next thing you know you are very close to your arbor.
The whole scale of everything is enlarged there, with some of the pools seeming a quarter mile or so long, and the fish had enormous tails.
It got where I would remove the extra fly line beyond what I could cast and fish, to add more backing. I still don't go for big arbor reels; why waste all that room when it can give you reassuring extra backing.
But I don't recommend cutting back lines very far, because you will learn to cast further with experience then it's useless.

In long wide riffles I've seen Klamath fish take 100 yards.
I hope these rivers can come back.

Here in SE AK at creek mouths we want 200 yards minimum for kings.
And just this weekend in a tidal inlet I had two pinks that took at least 100 yards, very unusual for them.

If you never fish open water or big rivers, I guess you don't need it.

Vinnie in Juneau
 

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I carry lots of backing on my spey reels (Marquis salmon 2s and 3s) . . . in some cases over 200yds. I've never been spooled, but have had Atlantic salmon in Quebec, New Brunswick and Russia take over 100 yds of backing. I didn't land all of those, but I have landed a few. I don't think I've ever had any steelhead taking as much (but, I've never fished the Thompson). I have taken 20 lb Kamchatka steelhead. Magnificent fish, but they don't have the huge tails of fish in high gradient rivers.
 

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3X on the Thompson

First, most of the steelhead I've hooked anywhere except the Thompson haven't shown me any backing. Backing line is about exceptions to the rule, I guess. I gave up 170 to 180 yards of my St. George to a Thompson steelhead that I did not land. Dave Winter was spooled of 200 yd of backing by a fish on that same river. Jerry Wintle said he had nearly 400 yd on his 4" Perfect that he was spooled of by another Thompson steelhead.

I did land two outstanding summer runs on the NF Stilly years ago that each took 100 yards or better, but those fish and the experiences were exceptional, which is why I remember them still.

Most steelhead seem to fall in the "Steelhead are the most over-rated freshwater gamefish" catagory. Sometimes I'm amazed at the prime Skagit steelhead that weighed in the high teens but didn't require more than 20 yards of backing to play and land them. And then there is the average steelhead that I play and land on a length of line equivalent to the length of the cast I hooked them on.

Sincerely,

Salmo g.
 

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salmo_g said:
Jerry Wintle said he had nearly 400 yd on his 4" Perfect that he was spooled of by another Thompson steelhead.
.

Umm... Since I played football in high school, and one year in college before being injured enough to say "this is a stupid hobby", I'm just smart enough to do the math that this is four football fields. At four football fields distance down a fast flowing river, the average fly line ALONE is going to feel like a 27 pound steelhead! Yes, I did do the math to arrive at 27 lbs (that statement is as believable as the 400yds being stripped :chuckle: ) A tippet would snap if you hiccuped while holding the rod at 400 yds.

And I've owned a 4 inch perfect. 400 yds of backing? With what line? Maybe a single hand 7 wt?

Sorry. Not for a New York second am I going to buy this whopper. If he really said this I now officially disbelieve his giant Skagit Steelhead story.
 

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Big fish require big rods, which require big reels to hold the lines and balance them out. A couple of hundred yards of backing is cheap insurance against long runs and reduces line coil diameter. Seems like a reasonable deal all round:)

Will
 

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GL Chromers

oh yes, I have fish into the backing maybe 3-5 times a year. Usually no more than 20 yards and usually fall fish. Fresh fish in heavy current on a wide river. Lots of backing on a standard arbor reel = a large arbor diameter at the start of your line. Always a good idea. No need for large arbor hype. Just 200 yd of 30# dacron.

Gary
 

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prairiespey said:
Big fish require big rods, which require big reels to hold the lines and balance them out. A couple of hundred yards of backing is cheap insurance against long runs and reduces line coil diameter. Seems like a reasonable deal all round:)

Will
Yeah, but those big reels are expensive. :(

I know it seems like I'm always taking the cheap way out, but the alternative is to not fish at all; or just carry a spinning rod. (Which is good therapy too.) But because I've been a cheap, ummm... person, I've been able to collect a small bundle of fly rods, a few lines and a small pile of fly tying stuff. And I'm having a hoot of a time with the stuff...
 
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