In fishing circles, you may have heard other fishermen talking about soaking their fishing line before spooling it onto the reel. There are various reasons that fishermen continue this practice, but there are others who don’t soak their line at all. What is the purpose of soaking the fishing line, and should you be doing it?

Soaking fishing line before spooling it onto the fishing reel is a practice that relaxes the line to help it lay on the reel better and prevent the line from coming off the bulk spool in a manner that promotes twists. Some fishermen say it is not necessary, so it is a matter of personal preference.

There are many differing opinions regarding the soaking of fishing line before you spool it onto your reel, and many fishermen do it in different ways. There are a few questions around this topic that would be relevant to a new fisherman, such as do all lines need to be soaked, does soaking actually work, and how long should you soak your line?

Soaking fishing Line

Why Should You Soak Fishing Line?

If you ask fishermen why they soak their fishing line before loading it up onto the fishing reel, you will get a variety of responses. Some will say it is to avoid the line twisting when it unwinds from the spool and you wind it onto your reel.

Others will tell you that it makes the line lay better on the fishing reel when it is wound onto the reel and provides better casting from the word go than if you do not soak the line.

Some fishermen will tell you that it is not necessary at all to soak the line before winding it onto your reel if you wind it up correctly.

Whether you need to soak the line or not will depend on the quality of the line you are using and personal preference.  

From experience, having the spool in a bucket of water does help to control the way that the line comes off the bulk spool. The spool will lie flat in the water so that the line spools off it straight, which is the exact reverse of how it went onto the spool.

You get line twist when the line starts to come off one side or the other of the spool or if the spool flips around on the ground while you are taking the line off it.

The line does also soak up some water which does “relax” the line a little, which helps the line to go onto your reel evenly, which promotes better exit of the line from the reel when casting.

What Fishing Line Should You Soak?

As in most things, there are different products of varying quality and characteristics, and the fishing line industry is no different. You get good quality line, mediocre quality line, and poor quality line.

Not only do you get different quality of lines, but you also get different lines that are made using different processes and materials.

  • Monofilament line. Monofilament line is produced from a single strand of plastic or nylon and comes in different colors and different diameters for different fishing applications. The line is made to different test strengths, which are used to catch various sized fish. Monofilament line is easy to produce and cheap to produce. This has made it one of the most popular fishing line types on the market today.
  • Fluorocarbon line. This line is made from a special type of plastic that has a very low refractive index which makes it difficult for fish to see. It is made in similar diameters to monofilament line. It is a dense line that sinks much faster than the other line types, and you have a better feel for bites on this line.
  • Braided fishing line. Braided line is made from multiple strands of plastic that are braided together to form a single line. This line is stronger and lighter than fluorocarbon or monofilament line for a given diameter. This means that you can fit more braided line on your reel than the other two types. The disadvantage of this line is that it is more visible to fish.


Which of these lines would benefit from a soaking before you spool it onto your reel? Mostly monofilament and fluorocarbon lines are soaked and braided line to a lesser extent. Braided line is more flexible and less likely to develop a “memory” from being wound onto the bulk spool at the factory.

Nevertheless, some fishermen do soak their braided line with seemingly no ill effects to the line.

Soaking fishing Line

How Long Should You Soak Fishing Line?

Some fishermen will advocate that you soak the line overnight in water, which is something that you should not do. Fishing line does absorb water and swell, so if you leave your spool of line in water overnight, it will become waterlogged and expand.

When you spool this line onto your reel, and it dries, it will shrink on your reel, which will tighten the line on the reel and cause strands to squeeze down between the strands below it. When you cast, the strands will catch on the strands next to and below and will limit the distance that you can cast or cause an overwind or a bird’s nest mess of line on your reel.

Some people advocate that you should soak the spool overnight, while others say you should soak it for 20 to 30 minutes. It is not necessary to soak the line overnight, nor is it recommended, for reasons that we have already mentioned. Even the 20 to 30-minute recommendation may be more than what is necessary.

It is not necessary to soak your line for a long time. Typically, you only need to soak it for a few minutes before you start the spooling process and then leave the spool in the water while you are winding it onto the reel.

You can also pinch the line with the fingers of one hand to guide the line, and it winds onto your reel and to apply the right amount of tension as it goes onto the reel. The water on the line will help to reduce the friction as the line passes through your fingers and prevent the line from burning your fingers.

Should You Soak In Warm Water Or Cold Water?

Most fishermen agree that warm tap water gives enough heat to “relax” the line and help it to lay onto the fishing reel better.

It is never necessary to use boiling water or water that is too hot for you to put your hand into. Many fishermen believe that warm water is not necessary, and plain, cold tap water does the trick.

The best option is for you to try both warm water and cold water and establish what works best for you with the type and quality of line that you have.

In some instances where a cheaper line is used, they develop a “memory” from being would onto the spool, and the warm water helps to relax the line and release the “memory” before it goes onto your reel.

For a higher quality line, normally straightforward cold water is sufficient to relax the line enough for spooling onto the reel.

Soaking fishing Line

How To Soak Fishing Line.

If you do go ahead with soaking your fishing line before reeling it onto your reel the process is very straight forward. However just in case we have the steps outlined below.

  1. Fill a bucket with cool to lukewarm water
  2. Put the spool into the bucket
  3. Leave to soak for a few minutes
  4. Fix the end of the line to the reel
  5. Make sure the line in through the eyes on the rod
  6. Reel in using your thumb and forefinger to keep tension. ( not crazy amounts)

Those Against Soaking The Line

Some fishermen are totally against the practice of soaking the line and feel that it is completely unnecessary. The argument is that if the line is removed from the spool correctly and wound properly onto the reel, then there should be no problems and no need to pre-soak the line.

The method that is advocated is that you simply mount the bulk spool on a dowel stick or something similar in the horizontal position so that the line leaves the spool in the same way that it was wound in the factory.

The fishing rod is then held horizontal, with the tip pointing toward the spool. You then hold the line between two fingers just before the reel and control the tension on the line that way.

Some people who prefer this way report that they have had good results and the line performs equally well during casting as with the wetting method.

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Fishing is a very personal activity, and everyone develops their own rituals and methods of performing certain tasks. Most have developed these practices from what has worked for them in the past, or it was simply “how my daddy used to do it.”

Soaking the fishing line is one of those things that some people say makes a huge difference to the way the line goes onto the reel. Others say that it makes no difference at all, and they have seen no difference in loading the line onto the reel, either wet or dry.

Soaking the fishing line is one of those practices that you are going to have to try out for yourself and form your own opinion as to whether it works for you or not.


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