20# dacron does not have a lot of strands so a nick or abrasion can really reduce the strength. So, if you are going to use 20# for steelhead, be sure you keep a close eye on it. Another option is to use 50 yards of 30# followed by the remainder in 20#, that way the heavier backing takes most of the abuse. That would be my choice or 30# followed by GSP, if I needed more backing.
A few years ago John Desjardin tested several pieces of backing I sent him, and posted results on speypages [or FFForum].
At that time my conclusion was Wulff 30 pound dacron was the smallest diameter available.
Since that date I found SA 30# to be of smaller diameter than Wulff. The tipoff was the Abel Reel catalog listed SA dacron backing only in giving max reel capacity.
Micron is the largest diameter dacron backing.
The difference is significant. A spool rated for 200 yards of Micron plus a line will hold 250 yards of SA plus the same line. In many cases this will keep the user free of the disadvantages of GSP, while having reasonable backing installed.
A significant difference, that is. I've bought a few 100 yd spools of 20# dacron polyester, but usually I buy a 1200 yd spool via mailorder because the bulk price is less expensive. I don't think there's a significant difference in quality between the brands - although Bob indicates a difference in diameter for some. I suspect that most of the "brands" are manufactured at the same few factories that produce this product.
I did recently pick up a 300 yd spool of 30# for the first time, not because I think I need that strong a backing - my tippets are only 8 or 10# test. I got the 30# because I thought it might be nice not to have to reel on a half mile of backing on my largest fly reel to get the flyline out near the edge of the reel spool.
I've never worried about the 20# backing getting nicked and broken, as it's attached to floating line and when in use is either in the air or on or near the surface of the water, where getting nicked would be highly unusual. In fact, I've got backing that's over 30 years old on some of my reels. I just never think to change it. It spends most all the time in a cool dark place, unaffected by sunlight. Maybe oughta' check some of the older stuff, and see if it's still strong. I bet it is, but if it isn't, my oh my, I'll be buying and reeling several miles of the stuff, as most of my reels and backing have been around a good while.
I use 30# and if I can't get enough on the spool go to 50# GSP (on my Ross BG 8 with a 10/11 xlt). Depends on what you plan to fish for but if you ever head to BC for some of the "big fish" rivers and plan to use heavy tippet material I would be concerned about the small difference in breaking strength between the backing and all the other knots - for sure you want the backing knot to be stonger by some than other knots. I use a bimini in the backing and loop to to fly line.
Are you concerned that your backing knot to your fly line might break while playing a fish?
This might not apply to Spey rods to the extent it applies to single handed rods, but most rods cannot break an 8 or 10# tippet except by a straight line pull. That is, most rods haven't the "lifting" power to break the tippet with the rod bowed. Some tarpon or saltwater rods might be, but then the tippet strength in use is generally greater than 10# as well.
P.S.: A good exercise is to string up your rod and tie an 8# tippet to a decent fish weighing scale, pull back with the rod bowed generously, and have a friend read the pounds pulled on the scale. We really don't put all the much pressure on a fish with the leader tests commonly used, yet it gets the job done.
The scales don't lie if you've got the rod 90 degrees to the force of load. When playing large fish I often have the rod dropped so I can play them with the butt of the rod. This bathroom test doesn't apply to a 40lb spring with 15lb tippet on its way back to the ocean. I've even had some good size chums depart with my fly line still attached. I now keep 50lb gelspun on my reels. I seldom need the heavier backing for steelhead but it really comes in handy when fishing salmon in the fall.
If I am using only 10# tippet for sure that will break before the backing knot but yes that is what I am afraid of - having the backing knot fail. For bigger fish I know some folks in BC are using much heavier tippets. I am not so worried about the fish breaking off - that will usually happen in the leader system, but if you get snagged and need to do a straight line pull to break off I sure don't want the knot to fail to be the backing knot. I have had my leader get wrapped around a rock so you are pulling maybe not at the tippet. I got into the habit of using heavier backing and biminis for salt water and have just carried that into my steelhead and salmon fishing.
I used to use a nail knot connection but no longer do so except on my trout rods.
Personal preference here only: 7wt and down, usually 20# dacron. 8 wt and up will be 30# dacron. 30# can be pretty 'fat' and take up a lot of room on a reel; one product (no idea where I got it) is "From the makers of T.U.F.-Line "Super Cast." 30# test, per spool, but less than 1/2 the width of the Dacron.
It has become a fashion here to use TUF line (80 lbs strength, roughly equivalent to 30 lbs dacron in diameter, 0.45 mono) as backing. Personally I have no previous experience on that tuf-stuff, but as I needed some new backing, just bought one spool for a field test. Cheap? Surely not, 45 euros per 300 yards, but if it lasts long enough, the price might be justified. Obviously the 80 lbs strength is not needed for Atlantic Salmon chase (unless ofcourse your first name is Toni :whoa: ), but the 30 lbs TUF would be so thin, that it is not very user friendly. So the 80 lbs stuff is just for the diameter. Worth the investment ? Only time will tell...
I just purchased some Hardy 30# gel spun backing, first ever go round with the gel spun. I like to use 30# dacron, but upon trying to spool my Loop Quattro onto a Loop 8-11 reel I found that I was barely going to get 100 yards of backing, way too little! 300 meters of the gel spun was only about $30 US dollars courtesy of the Red Shed Fly Shop. Got about 175 yards on the spool versus that 100 yds of dacron, and boy is it strong! I have no worries, but I am going to try to put a short piece of dacron between the gel spun and the fly line. What knots would anyone reccomend to securely join the gel spun and the dacron? Would Rick's bimini be the best knot to secure the 2 different materials?
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