Spey reel Capacity

Just got a Ross Big Game 5 for a 14' 8/9/10 spey rod. I just noticed that the listed spey line capacity for the reel is 6/7/8/ + 50. Thinking I probably should have gone with a Big Game 6 with 8/9/10 + 100. So it seems that if I want to get a 8 wt spey line I would not have much backing, although the listed is 30# and I could go with 20# for some more room. Any ideas? Go with a lighter spey line to get more backing, or just have 50 yds of backing. Or maybe get a non-spey line? Right now I have 200 yards of backing and my 8wt S.A. XXD line on it and it fits. Does designated spey line make a big difference?
Well I am in no way an expert, but from what I know, having the right line is how spey casting works. If you underline your rod it will not load and casting will requrire too much effort. I was under the impression that the amount of effort I put into my casts was 'normal' when, after talking to local expert Ed Ward, I found out that I was in fact underlined and that the cast should be almost effortless. One of my fishing partners has a rod that is very much underlined and it is very hard to cast. Save your self time and grief and buy a reel that can hold a line that is designed for you rod.

What rod are you fishing? Depending of the rod you might want to jump up to a size above the 8/9/10 and do a 9/10/11.


Matt Burke

Active Member
You can make it work with some of the thinner diameter running line and if you know your Steelhead are never going to get over 15 lbs. then 20# would work if you really must have 200+ yards. But I always figured that if a fish spooled me and he was out over 600 feet, he could have my windcutter. I've never had one take me into the backing, but I'm sure that it happens to some of the lucky few. Hell, I'd be happy if they would just go 50 yards into the backing.

Length of backing is not a priority with me and my Spey lines. I use the biggest, fattest reels I can find and fill the spool up so that the Spey line has the largest windings possible. Less memory when they are new. As a line gets used, memory isn't a problem unless it's cold.

Another thing I've used is gel spun line for backing. On a 10/11 large arbor Okuma, I've gotten an 8/9/10 and 350 yards of gel spun on one of those. Again, what fish is going to take me out a thousand feet.

I try not to obsess about reels and backing when all you really need is the line to not bind up on the outer part of the spool and get it in the water. Why get a 1/4 inch drill bit when all you need is a 1/4 inch hole.

Spool on the line, then whatever backing to fit what you can, cut it and re-spool the whole thing and you're done. A guy could spend days trying to figure it out and never get the line wet.

Crump raised a good point. If you're new, you might want to go up one line weight. Or just buy a bunch of line in different sizes because you know going to get more rods anyway and more reels, then you will need long bellied lines and more rods, etc.
Matt Burke

Bert Kinghorn

Formerly "nextcast"
Matt is right. Check out gel spun backing. The 30 pound stuff is tiny and cheaper than a new reel for now. You'll get at least a 100 yards on your present reel and have more confidence in your equipment. Like he says, you are going to buy lots more lines, rods and reels later!

Bert Kinghorn

Formerly "nextcast"
Relatively new, low-stretch, very strong material. I think it may be the same or similar to lines like spectra, Firewire, etc. that the gear guys use. Advantages are high strength, small diameter, low stretch, won't rot, high uv resistant and probably others. Most of the major backing makers make it, some in odd sizes. Cortland calls it Micronite, SA calls it XTS, Orvis - Gel-Spun. Cabelas has a version as well. One down side is that it can cost almost twice what equivalent strength dacron can cost. That can still be much cheaper than buying a new reel. There are probably others down sides I'm not aware of.

I use it to connect trailing hooks in articulated flies. The small diameter helps me keep the bulk down in the leading, snapped off hook.


The dumb kid
ya but dacron backing is 2 cents a yard..... at least where i get it ( for 20#) so it cant be all that expensve.............. right?


Matt Burke

Active Member
POWER PRO-50/1500G-SPECTRA - 50#-1500yds-GREEN 99.99
That is about 7 cents a yard at fishermans headquarters. Gel spun will stain your fly line. You have to loop the back of your Spey line and tie the gel spun in a bimini knot. Actually, with gel spun, I use a double strand bimini with a larva lace tubing threaded over it where the loop to loop connection is made. This is done so the gel spun wont cut through the fly line. I use 50 # because most knots tied on gel spun may decrease the breaking strength up to 40% with some knots or badly tied knots. That is all the down side I can come with after spooling up some 2500 yards of it. Oh yeah, when it flys off the reel it can cut through your fingers like a laser.

BUT, 200 yards of gel spun takes up about the same amount of room as 30 yards of dacron 30#.

Matt Burke
I think that the BG-5 may be too small for you. I'm using a Ross Canyon BG-7 with my 9wt outfit. It's just about the right capacity for my Rio MidSpey WFL9/10 line with about 200 yards of backing.



Active Member
I know that everyone wants to boom out 150' casts with their spey rod but...
Consider cutting 10'-20' of running line off of the back of your line. Depending on your line you will still have between 110'-130' of fly line. If you don't fish very big water you may never need your whole line. Even if you are an acomplished caster, ask yourself how many times you use the whole line on your single hand rod At least this will be a cheaper solution than a new reel.
Puget Sound Fly Company

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