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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve seen the question come up on more than one occasion. “How much backing should my reel hold?” Or “does so and so reel hold enough backing?” My question is how many times have you actually seen your backing while catching a fish, targeting the correct species (i.e. catching a redfish on a 3wt, and you’ll probably see backing more times then not), or a time you ran into something with the wrong gear. Pelagics and tarpon excluded, unless it’s a killer story. With that being said I would love to hear some stories.

I’ll start by saying the first time I saw my fly line backing. I was fishing some docklights for snook in ft pierce in January. The snook were feeding but only on tiny tiny things. I had luck throwing a sz 8 crazy Charlie that night. I was casting at one particular light and slowly stripping my line through when a big ray swam through the light. Seeing this I started stripping my line frantically trying to get it out of the way, but unfortunately the ray swam right into my line and got hooked. It took off like a bat out of hell and to this day I’ve never seen my hatch spin so fast. I was using a fairly heavy tippet and couldn’t break the line, so I ended up losing all my fly line and about 2/3 of my backing.
 

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The first time I saw my backing was on the Pere Marquette fishing for Kings. Before that my only experience fly fishing was for Northeast Ohio steelhead (read: lake run rainbows), and that was mostly pretty tame. I made it up to Baldwin a day before I had booked my guide so I spent the whole day fishing, and the only rods I brought were my 8wts I had previously only used for throwing streamers with sink tips for 5-10 lb bows. Almost right away I hooked up with what I could only imagine was 25-30 lb king and that tucked and ran like a bat out of hell. I had one of the cheaper Sage reels, so even with the drag turned all the way up there was no pressure on the fish and it made it almost 80 yards downstream until a rock or log broke my flyline about 10 feet from the leader. The next day the guide started pulling out beefy 10wts and it hit me like a semi truck that I don’t have a damn clue what I’m doing.
 

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The first time I saw my backing was when I hooked a pretty big jack on an 8wt. It was my first fly outfit and I spent all my money on a second hand rod and $100 worth of fly line. There was no money left over for a reel so I grabbed a cheap battenkill big enough to hold the line and used left over gelspun from a friend as backing.

In hindsight the reel did it's job and held up to the abuse. An experienced angler would have been able to manage the situation. I ended up losing the fly line and the backing cut my fingers bad enough to require $250 worth of stitches at the walk-in doctors office down the street from my house.
 

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The first time I really saw backing was when I hooked into a false albacore from the beach. The fly line was gone in a blur and I got to inspect at least 100 yds of my backing. This was on an 8wt with a Galvan T8. I got 3 albies in 3 weekends running that Fall. I think I was pretty close to 1000 casts per fish. It’s an unforgettable fish to connect with...no hookset required.
 

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first time was actually on a big trout on a 5wt who got in the current and went down river. The most backing I have ever seen go out was on a very large yellowtail ( well i think that what is was i lost it...could have been a tuna as well). I had a 10wt loomis crosscurrent and a reel with probably 225lb 30lb dacron. The fish probably took about 3/4 of the backing before it finally broke off.
 

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Steelhead is what has really took my backing. More than a decade ago, on a special March day when I was in the right spot and right time, I went 12 (landed) out of 26 hooked. Virtually all ran more than a 100m, some pushed 200m as they rode the river and rapid back to open water and i all could do was, just hang on and break the fly off.

The river bend was 250 to 300m, so this was my limit.

I stopped at noon that day, exhausted from running up and down the river, but happy and content in knowing Inhad one of those special days.qà

My daughter once caught a salmon that took her near to the same bend. The fish stopped just in-time before we had to break off. We then ran down, as the fished rest in its pool and spoiled back our backing and some fly line. The fish was still on and not moved as we recover. She did land it.

My last backing run was Tuesday, fishing for Bonefish in the Bahamas.

I do not believe I had a bonefish take more than 100m (probably less than 60m). My largest to date was 7lb (landed), wife has out gun me at 8. Both where hunted off the edges of Mangroves, and a 100+m run would be impossible to land.
 

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I’ve had Bones here in Biscayne Bay peel off 60-80 yards of backing off a 9wt real quick!
 
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I was throwing small flies to large specks tailing in St. Charles Bay with an old six weight and a 12# tippet. Had 110 Yards of gel spun backing. An idiot in an airboat blew out the cove, and I was waiting for some fish to reappear. After a while I saw a mud and figured it was the specks. Presented the fly, hooked up, and a huge red took me almost to the end of my backing, twice. The hook pulled out after several minutes. Fun stuff!
 

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Wish it was something cool but it was a STUD ladyfish.[/QUO

Same here, has happened a number of times. Last year something not only showed me the backing, but also the end of the backing when it snapped the knot on the reel. Lol. Fortunately it was an old line that didn't owe me anything. Was on a 9. Attributable to operator error as the drag was probably a little too loose and happened so fast and old reflexes. Likely suspects were shark or large jack.
 

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My first fish on fly as an adult was a 27 inch red. I nailed it on a long cast w a popper. It took me a bit into the backing and firmly set the hook in me for fly fishing.

When I was a kid I had a CHEAP Shakespeare flyrod (Walmart special) I used for bass and brim. My best friends dad took us out fishing for breaking fish in Jacksonville FL. We we wore out Jack's and Spanish on conventional tackle... then I took that Shakespeare rod and gave it a whirl on a fly that was Christmas ribbon just tied to a hook. I caught several nice Spanish on it before getting dumped by a jack.
None got to the backing however because I didn't know enough to have any backing on the reel. I had a few Spanish take me to the knot.... but the jack powered beyond the knot and cleaned me out of line.
 

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My first bull red. I had been targeting carp all summer practicing for first saltwater trip, sight casting, waterhauling etc. Got to Louisianna with my buddy and we went out. I caught the first red a cast to, a decent slot fish. Later in the day after a few more slot sized fish I hooked a nice bull and it ran and ran on the 8wt. Still my longest at 43", although I have probably caught heavier fish. After that I was hooked and here I am today constantly obsessing with getting back to the salt to chase reds, tarpon, snook and bones.
 

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Discussion Starter #17

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I spoke to a guy that worked in a fly shop a few years back who had the job of loading new backing on both new and used fly reels. He had the advantage of a machine to load and un-load backing so it wasn't hard. He was surprised how many big tarpon reels got the backing changed out when it wasn't needed at all (backing is synthetic, won't rot or deteriorate on the spool at all...). He could tell at a glance which reels had actually gone to war since the loop to loop connections between backing and fly line were just about welded together... Many looked like they'd never seen daylight from the day they were set up.....

Wonder how many big sticks just ride along on skiffs and are never used?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I spoke to a guy that worked in a fly shop a few years back who had the job of loading new backing on both new and used fly reels. He had the advantage of a machine to load and un-load backing so it wasn't hard. He was surprised how many big tarpon reels got the backing changed out when it wasn't needed at all (backing is synthetic, won't rot or deteriorate on the spool at all...). He could tell at a glance which reels had actually gone to war since the loop to loop connections between backing and fly line were just about welded together... Many looked like they'd never seen daylight from the day they were set up.....

Wonder how many big sticks just ride along on skiffs and are never used?
I’ve heard regardless of how much use your backing sees it’s good to switch it out every year or so because salt can get trapped in the spool and cause the spool to corrode. I received a couple older tibors secondhand and the inside of the spools had some pitting and was told the reason was because the backing was never changed.
 
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I’ve heard regardless of how much use your backing sees it’s good to switch it out every year or so because salt can get trapped in the spool and cause the spool to corrode. I received a couple older tibors secondhand and the inside of the spools had some pitting and was told the reason was because the backing was never changed.
If that’s the case, the backing is not compromised, just unspool, soak and the respool ...
 
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