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Backing

I wonder if I’ll ever see this backing again.

I might. The reel that it is going to be spooled onto is going to feature a six-weight line. There are plenty of circumstances where I could get into a very large trout, a steelhead, or carp that could run me out a hundred feet.

But, the reel in question also has a click-check drag. Chances are, I’d take one of my large arbor, disc drag reels out if I’m targeting one of the aforementioned species.

So, I’d have to say that the odds are against this backing seeing the light of day.

Of course, I will try a hero cast with the rod that this setup is going to be paired with. It is a pretty full-flexing fiberglass model, but I think that I should still be able to shoot out at least 90 feet or so. And even if I can’t, I’ll strip enough line out to give it a go.

But I don’t think that counts. Neither would cleaning the line.

All of my reels were spooled up tight with new backing. Most of them only get unloaded in the case of a rare cleaning. (I should do that more often.)

One reel in particular has some pretty memorable backing. Towards the end of the 1990’s, I bought a rod with a carbon fiber reel seat. It is pretty common today, but back then it was wild and futuristic. To up the “wow” factor on my traditional little reel, I specifically sought out some hi-viz orange backing. It really popped and gave that rig some swagger.

I used it a lot. I switched from a great line (the Cortland Spring Creek) to a new and highly touted line. Bad choice. The Cortland was a dark green that was surprisingly easy to see, while the new stuff is a drab(ber?) color that blends in with everything. Including, ironically and literally, the backing. Somehow there was some bleeding. Now my orange backing has a yellow section and my mauve/buff/grey line has an orange section.

That is on a three-weight, so I’m only seeing it through the porting on the reel. Not on some giant fish’s epic battle.

Speaking of backing for giant fish, I do have some of the really fancy-shmancy gel-spun backing on my big game reels. When I was working at a fly shop, someone returned an enormous reel that they must have intended to use for billfish. Or opening and closing a drawbridge. We could resell the reel, and maybe even the line, but according to my manager the backing was to be chalked up as a loss. A loss my foot – that stuff was like twenty bucks for 100 yards. I unspooled the miles and miles of expensive backing onto old line spools. I still have enough to outfit an entire fleet of saltwater reels.

But the backing in question is 100 yards of run of the mill, 20-pound test.

The company I ordered it from apparently doesn’t care that much either, because I only ordered 75 yards. The warehouse guy was probably like, “eh… this 100-yard spool is closer.”

And this backing won’t even get the privilege of being involved in a well-crafted nail knot! Even on my trout reels, I pride myself on small, tight, smooth nail knots. I seal them with head cement and trim any little tag ends. Really, how would you feel if an untidy knot got stuck on a guide if and when a big fish actually does run you into your backing? However, the line I’ll be using has welded loops on both ends. Thus, I just have to whip up a haphazard perfection loop in the backing. Oh well.

This backing, for all of its lack of potential appearances or glamorous accomplishments, will do its job. The bulk it provides will fill up the standard arbor, allowing my line to not coil too tightly. Aesthetically, the white will be pleasing through the ported holes in contrast to the reel’s dark frame. That matters. I know, that if push comes to shove, this backing will also give me some wiggle room if I do hook into that big fish. At that point, it will be the most important part of the entire setup.

All of that. For six bucks.

I wonder if I’ll ever spend a better six dollars in fly fishing?

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