Sometimes I’ll take people out fishing, and I’ll tell them to let an amount of line out, like 75 feet. They will let out some time and we’ll be fishing. Usually they will not be catching as many fish as they could.
Eventually there will be some reason to reel in their line, and it will come in really quick – because not much line was out.
For whatever reason most people have a hard time estimating those kinds of distance, and how much line they have let out.
So how can one really tell how much line is let out?
The Pull Method
This is simple. One simply counts the number of “pulls” one does. A pull is done by grabbing the line by the reel and pulling out line until you reach the first guide. On most rods this is about 18 inches – although you should measure your setup with a measuring tape. So if you want to let out 55 feet, that would be 30 pulls of 18 inches.
This works, but can be a bit time consuming. You might also loose count at some point. And each pull has some inaccuracy in it, which adds up over all those pulls.
Another low tech way is the bobber stop method. A bobber stop is a little knot you can put on the line to prevent a bobber from sliding up the line too far. It is very useful when float fishing deep, as the knot can be reeled through the guides and on to the reel, while the float can slide down toward the terminal tackle.
You can buy them pre-tied on little tubes that you slide up the line to the desired position, and then slide the knot onto the line and tighten it down.
This method of line measurement starts off by measuring the line at home (like with a tape measure), and installing the bobber stop.
This works great for setups like plug fishing where you want all the lines out a set amount, like 40 feet, to form a wall of death.
The main downside is that sometimes that little bobber knot will slip on the line – especially it rubs against the guides while fighting a fish.
Another issue is that it works best for 1, maybe 2, distances. Beyond that requires a bunch of these knots and counting.
The next method is line counters. You can buy models that clip on to your rod, or ones built into the reel.
Before letting out line, reset the counter to 0 and then let out line until the counter reaches the desired number.
In my experience they tend to work well, especially if you reset the counter each time out let out line.
However it can be an added expense, and eventually the line counters I’ve used start breaking down.
Lately this has become my favorite way of determining how much line is out. Metered line is braided line that has be dyed to change colors after so many feet. By counting the color changes you know how much line is out.
PowerPro depth hunter line is a good example. It changes colors every 25 feet.
To achieve 75 feet of line out, I can tell someone to let out line until 3 complete colors are out.
Since you have to buy line anyway, I don’t count this as an added cost.
The main downside is that if your line gets tangled or something and you need to cut off some, then you need to make that cut at the end of a color, otherwise you will throw the distance off. This may cause you to cut significantly more line than you otherwise would need to.
5 thoughts on “How much line is out?”
Finally, some solid info on fishing Western Washington lowland lakes for trout! I’ve recently gotten into fishing with flies (I didn’t say fly fishing because I still use spinning gear.) I didn’t realize how important the proper depth is until reading your articles. I’m going to have to buy some split shot. I’m also learning to fish the Sound for Sea Run Cutthroat with flies. Wow, those fish are born pissed off, even an 8 incher puts up a decent fight. Anyway, I appreciate your information. Thanks, John
Thanks, I’m glad you are finding the information useful. Wish you tight lines.