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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Do you ever have problems with your backing getting hung up and losing or nearly losing a fish? It certainly doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s happened too often (it happened only once last year, but it was on a beautiful salmon on the Gaspé). And I nearly lost a 9.5 lb bonefish last week, but fortunately I never got to a “stop”, only some difficulty deep into the backing.

What do you think causes it? Several years ago, I lost one of the very few steelhead of the week on the Umpqua and so I changed from 20 lb micron to 30 lb. That certainly helped. And I’m now using 30 lb micron on everything, except the few cases where I have to use gel spun because of capacity.

The only thing I can think that may cause it, is when playing the fish and it’s running, there’s one level of pressure on the backing wraps on the reel and a second level of pressure on those wraps when putting pressure on the fish*, and a third level of pressure putting line back on the reel. When I’m getting line back, I gain line by raising the rod (or to the side, with side pressure) and then crank line back on the reel as I bring the rod forward again. Any ideas? And does anyone else occasionally have this problem? Any problems with gel spun?

bill

*It might be this second level of pressure could be the problem as at times it's the most pressure. It might dig the backing down into the wraps.
 

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Use your pinky

Gel spun has more trouble digging in than dacron backing because of its properties.

I use 30# micron for backing. When I use gelspun, I use fifty yards of dacron connecting gelspun to line. Many steelhead will not run more than the length of running line and the fifty yards of micron. This minimizes many of the problems with gelspun digging in.

I also use my pinky to control the line when retrieving, and make regular passes clear across the width of the reel (a little like some spinning reels). This line at an abrupt angle also helps prevent digging in. After getting in the habit, you don't even have to think about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
t_richerzhagen

Thanks for your thoughts. I also try to use my pinky to lay it back on evenly.

I, too, rarely have problems with steelhead. The one several yrs ago on the Umpqua was with 20 lb., and the only one I really remember as a problem. The aforementioned Gaspé salmon was over 25 lbs and after a while, I think wanted to find out how much backing I really had. Unfortunately, I lost her. Peraps a lot of backing, unless really packed in, creates a "soft" spot? And the bonefish last week took well over 100 yds before I encountered a problem.

bill
 

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I have never had a problem with my backing when fighting fish, but I am also very particular about the "particulars" when it comes to backing. For my steelhead and King fishing I use only 30# because of its' thicker diameter. I entrust only myself to conduct the initial installation. I ensure that it is wound onto the reel as evenly as possible, and that it is packed onto the reel as tightly as possible (very important! Very few tackle shops use enough tension when installing backing. I go by the old adage of tight enough that the point of a pencil cannot be poked into it). After landing any fish that has taken me very deep into my backing I will strip all of the used portion of the backing back out and re-wind it slowly, carefully, and tightly back onto the reel. May seem like a lot of work and/or fuss, but as stated before I have never had a problem with my backing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
R-addict
Good idea about re-winding the amount used on the previous fish. Just this afternoon (before I posted this) I did just that with the line that I took the big bonefish on. You're right, it's a lot of work, but maybe the only way to ensure it's all put on correctly. Thanks.
bill
 

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I have had that problem with Nylon .. And you never know at what point it will seize up. I try to unwind a good portion of my line back at home and then wind it back on... tightly... any pressure change putting it back on will cause it to dig in when it's flying out with a fish on. Winding it evenly back on is key..but I think it is different levels of line pressure on the spool that may cause it.
 

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I've had this problem a few times when I fought a fish from a constant rod angle and wasn't vigilant about spreading the backing back and forth across the reel. That creates too much backing on one side of the reel, and it often slides over itself and tangles. I agree with the above posts; I've never had this happen when the backing was wound evenly across the reel, and it's something you need to do when you are winding in a lot of backing, whether with a fish attached or not.
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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Offhand I can't recall any instances where I've had trouble with backing. Whether steelhead or coastal striped bass, a fair percentage of hookups will involve serious backing. That meaty 30# is the way to go for sure when a big heavy fish has ripped backing out there. While cranking the reel to recover line I've found it can be wound back evenly using the pinky trick. There is ample tension on the line at that time and the backing packs tight and pretty evenly. Sometimes big stripers are caught on consecutive casts and you have to be ready for the next cast upon release. When cleaning the salt off the line in a tub of freshwater, any backing that is not smoothly wound is rewound.
 

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Flyfishing Camp Cook
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been there done that

But not with fly reels except ONCE. I've used some of the superlines for my baitcasters/spinning reels. You can load more line in a smaller diameter. But you have to watch which one's you use. Some, no matter what you do, will dig in and bury in the spool.

Same with backing. I use the standard dacron or I've been trying powerpro. Won't bury in the spool. Key is to make sure every now and then after you've been fighting a fish to repack the backing you've had come off the reel on snuggly. If you don't, it will become mushy and will eventually bury on a hard running fish. Nothing worse then snapping off if you have a nice fish on. What would be worse if it snapped off at the FLYLINE!!!!!! Losing a fish is one thing, but losing a flyline and a fish sucks. LOL
 
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