How to Set Up a Fishing Pole Correctly Every Time

By Sonnox | Fishing Advice

how to set up a fishing pole
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Knowing how to set up a fishing pole can be a bit tricky if you have never done it before. You will learn several different components and terms that could be a bit confusing at first. That said, once you have got the hang of it, you can set up your fishing rod like a pro, and the entire process will become easier the more often you do it.

To get there, you need to learn the correct steps, and this is where we come in. We have put together this guide that will definitely help you understand your fishing rod better and get the whole process done correctly. Let’s dive in right away!

Before You Begin

It does not make sense talking about setting up a fishing pole without discussing what you need first, so let us list the things necessary to do so.

  • Fishing Line: When it comes to fishing line, you can opt for whichever one you prefer for the conditions where you plan on fishing and even the species you plan on catching. If you fish in clear bodies of water, then you may consider choosing a line that’s not as visible underwater like monofilament.
  • Spinning Rod: The spinning rod must be suitable for the kind of fish you plan on catching. It should be of adequate strength for the size and weight of the fish. It should also be suitable for the type of bait you want to use it with. The spinning rod can be either a single piece rod or made of several pieces.
  • Spinning Reel: Just like the spinning rod, the spinning reel must also be suitable for the conditions where you intend to fish, for instance, freshwater or saltwater. It must also be compatible with the rod’s weight.
  • Scissors: You can use any kind of scissors since you only need them to cut the line. Alternatively, you can also make use of pliers.
  • Lures: You can make use of both artificial bait and lures along with the spinning gear. Typically, you will notice that these baits and lures tend to work for different kinds of fish and what works one day for a kind of species may not necessarily work again on another day. Hence, it is a good idea to have a wide range of baits along with you.

How to Set Up a Fishing Pole

Now that we have our basics in order, it is time we talk about the correct way you can set up your fishing pole. We will break this down in multiple sections.  

Setting Up the Spinning Rod

1. Clean the Rod

Before you begin, you need to ensure that your rod is thoroughly clean. You can easily accomplish this by wiping it down with a clean cloth that will remove any dust or sand that may have settled on certain parts of the rod. It is also a great idea to pay close attention to the reel seat and the ferrules if your rod comes in multiple pieces since the dirt or sand can affect how smoothly the pieces will attach.

2. Put the Rod Together

If the rod comes in multiple pieces, then the first thing you must do is connect all the sections, as mentioned in the user manual, so that you have the equivalent of a single-piece spinning rod. Each section must come with ferrules that allow you to screw in every single piece onto the corresponding section.

3. Unscrew the Reel Seat

After completing the previous step, you will need to loosen the reel seat. This is located near the handle to ensure that there is sufficient space for the reel foot on the spinning reel to properly fit onto it.

4. Attach the Reel to the Rod

After loosening the reel seat, you will be able to attach the rod by simply putting the reel foot on the seat. Once everything is set in place, you have to tighten the reel seat correctly. Make sure that it is tight enough that the reel does not move while it is in place, but also not so tight that it ends up damaging the rod entirely.

5. Make It Left Hand or Right Hand Compatible

Whether you are a left-handed or a right-handed caster, you will need the reel to be set on the side of the rod that you are comfortable with so that you exert less effort when you use it. Thankfully, a lot of spinning reels come with the ability to get switched for either right-handed or left-handed users.

In most cases, it is just a simple case of switching the handle. Once the reel is securely positioned in the rod’s reel seat, just switch the handle to the side convenient to you.

Do note that several right-handed anglers will typically cast with their right and then reel in with their left hand, which means that having the handle on the left may actually turn out to be more comfortable.

Setting Up the Spinning Reel

1. Note the Direction of the Spool

Before you begin spooling the line, you first need to see in which way does the spool turns when you are turning the handle. Whether it is spinning clockwise or it is spinning counter-clockwise will determine the way the line should be spooled on.

Both the reel spool and the line spool should be turning in the same direction when you load the reel. This is so that the line goes onto the reel exactly the way it comes off the spool package. For instance, if the reel spool turns clockwise when the handle is turned, the line should also be going clockwise and coming off the filler spool counter-clockwise.

2. Attach the Line to the Reel

After determining how the line comes off of the line spool and how the reel spool turns, you need to open the bail by flipping the wire bail arm onto the other side. At this point, you can grab the end of the line and then just thread it through the first guide, which is the one that is closest to the rod handle, and then go in through the guide towards the reel. Make sure that you are not going towards the rod tip.

After that, you can attach the line to the spool on the reel by just tying a knot. A simple overhand knot will suffice in this case.

After you are done tying the line to the spool, you will be able to close the bail. If there is a ton of line still left at the tag end of the knot, then you can use a pair of scissors or pliers to cut it off.

how to set up a fishing pole

3. Spool the Reel

Now that the bail arm is in a closed position, you will be able to spool the reel. The line will typically come on a little spool. Place this onto a flat surface so that it rotates in the same direction as the spool when you are turning it.

It would be helpful to have a friend along with you to help you. They will be able to position the line spool on a thin object such as a pencil, and the line spool will be able to rotate much more effectively as you are turning the handle on the reel and loading it onto the spool of the reel.

While keeping the light tine with the help of your hand, you need to turn the reel handle with your other hand and then spool the line onto the reel, in a similar method as if you are reeling in a fish.

Keep turning the reel handle slowly till you have sufficient line on the reel. Ensure that you are not loading too much line since it can cause problems, like line twists, when you cast. Stop spooling when you reach about ⅛ inch away from the spool’s top.

4. Set Up the Line

Now that the line is correctly on the spool and the reel is placed securely on the reel seat of the rod, you need to start setting up the line. Begin by unlocking the bail of the reel by flipping its arm over the spool on to the other side. Ensure that the spool unwinds in the exact direction as the reel.

If it does not, you have to reload it. This will help in preventing the line from jumping off or twisting the spool and will make casting much more efficient.

As long as the line is on the reel the proper way, you can grab the end of it that is around the spool and then pull. Ensure that you are threading it through the first guide present on the rod. You can then continue doing so through the center of every guide until you reach the last one, which is at the tip of the rod.

5. Close the Bail

Now you will be able to close the bail by simply flipping the bail arm back over so that it is on the same side it was before you had opened it to thread the line. Once you close the bail, no more line will be able to be pulled off. By not closing the bail, you could end up with a loose line winding off freely when not necessary.

Attaching the Lure

1. Thread the Line Through the Lure

After choosing the best lure for the species and conditions, take hold of the end of the line and then thread it through the top of the lure. If you are using artificial lures, you will be able to do this easily as they tend to have eyelets.

2. Practice Tying the Knot

Before you tie the knot to secure the lure to the fishing line, you may consider trying to practice tying the knots by using a shoelace or some string as doing it on a thin fishing line for the first time can be difficult. By doing so, you may end up feeling more comfortable when it comes to tying the knot to attach the lure.

3. Tie the Knot

One of the knots considered to be the strongest and used more commonly for tying lures is the Rapala knot. This is a great knot to choose if you have threaded the line through the eyelet of the lure.

You can also use the same kind of knot if you are using a hook and live bait, or you can consider trying out the Palomar knot. If you are working with live bait, then this should be attached to the hook instead of the line. Artificial lures typically have hooks inbuilt.

In the case of live bait rigging, the line must attach directly to the hook similarly to the way you would have attached the artificial lure to the line, which is by threading the line through the eyelet and then tying a secure knot. If the tag end is a bit too long after tying the knot, then simply cut off the excess to a desirable length.

Attach Swivels and Snaps

What you might find useful is attaching the swivel directly onto the line and attaching the lure to the swivel. This helps in preventing the line from twisting and can also be quite helpful when you are using lures that continuously spin.

Similarly, the snap is helpful if you intend to use a wide range of lures, as this will mean you are constantly changing the lures quickly and with ease without having to tie the knots in the line constantly.  

Start Fishing

Now that you have the rod, reed, the line, and lure completely set up, you will be able to hit the water right away to start fishing! We recommend that you take your time and search for the best fishing poles, which further make setting it up easier.


Knowing how to set up a fishing pole the right way can mean the difference between a fantastic fishing trip and a terrible one. Make sure you are following all the steps we mentioned to the T so that you have a higher chance of catching the fish you desire. Also, make sure you bookmark us to never miss out on more fishing advice and the latest fishing-related equipment reviews.

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