Applying Backing to Lake Ontario Fishing Reels

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I decided to write this to share my thoughts on the use of backing for Lake Ontario fishing charter reels. I have seen on many message boards questions pertaining to this issue which has given me the inspiration to write this. The two most popular questions are how much and what type of backing? This article will attempt to not only answer these two questions but also the reason(s) why we use what we use while Lake Ontario fishing.

I used to belong to the school of filling my different reels up to capacity with one specific line type and I would then replace as necessary the whole amount of line when needed. The more that I chartered and fished, the more it seemed I was replacing line. This was getting expensive, especially in a business that is hard to make any money at in  the first place. It was also time consuming to strip the old fishing line off and replace it with the new. So I began to use backing to cut down on the cost of refilling reels. With the advent of copper fishing we also had to inherently use backing at the very start. The use of copper on the eastern end of Lake Ontario requires us to use large capacity reels with huge amounts of copper to achieve depth and a sufficient amount of backing to allow for deployment and fish runs. A lake Ontario king salmon can run out several hundred feet of line after the initial strike so there has to be enough backing to allow for this to prevent from being spooled.

Lake Ontario Fishing

Fins Spectra BraidThe function of backing on Lake Ontario fishing reels can serve two purposes and sometimes both at the same time. One purpose is to economically take up space or capacity on a reel. The other purpose  is to give enough “back up” line of sufficient diameter and strength so that the application can be fished successfully. Also, note that one type of line can serve to fulfill both functions at the same time. I will touch on this a bit later.  On Ace Charters we use two different brands and styles of line to fulfill both obligations. To fill up space we use Cabela’s Prestige IGFA Class Dacron Fishing Line in both 30lb and 125lb weights. For our “back up” line we use Fins Original PRT in 50lb test. We also use Fins for our superline dipseys.

Cabelas Dacron

On our dipsey reels depending on whether it’s a 600lc or 700lc Shimano we use either 30lb or 125lb Dacron backing. Check out our article   “The importance of reel capacity” which helps explain why we use the size reels that we do for all our Lake Ontario fishing applications. In both cases for these Shimano reels we have chosen the Dacron for backing to not only take up space but to also provide additional “back up” line if a fish should take a longer than normal run. Also, note that a foul hooked mature king salmon can really pull a lot of line out before you can clear rods and  maneuver around to get to it.

Lake Ontario Fishing

At first, you might think that using Dacron for backing can be more expensive than using just plain mono. Upon face value this is true, but only on the initial set-up. We used to think this way too, until it cost us a fish that broke the mono backing. The problem with using mono for backing is that it absorbs water and will subsequently, rot! This means that you have to use enough main line to not let a fish get into the backing or take your chances if it does! It also means that you should change your mono backing every year. We have over 40 reels. Imagine the nightmare of having to change backing every year?

We made a change several years ago on our 20lb wire dipseys and couldn’t be happier (well maybe). What we did was to put on 30lb Dacron as backing and then put 650ft of 20lb wire on top of that to fill the reel. We fill our reels off of 10,000ft bulk spools of wire. We get 15 reel fills per spool this way. Because Dacron doesn’t rot like mono we don’t have to change our backing every year. 30Lb Dacron is also strong enough to hold adult Lake Ontario king salmon when they do get into the backing. In fact, if I had it to do over again I would  put on enough backing so that it would only take 500ft of 20lb wire to fill the reel. We would then get 20 reel fills per bulk spool. (1/2 of a 1000ft. spool). As soon as it’s time to change the Dacron, I plan to do this. It is not uncommon during the course of running Lake Ontario fishing charters to lose line and later have to refill fishing reels. Let me ask you this? Would you rather have pay to refill with 500ft or 1000ft of wire?

On our copper reels we either use Dacron or Fins depending on how much of the backing is needed. See are article on Lake Ontario fishing with copper set-ups. The common denominator is that in all cases we use a minimum of 900ft of backing for our coppers. Let me note at this point that Power Pro is an acceptable and popular backing when diameter determines capacity. We choose to use the Fins because it has a 10lb test diameter vs. the 12lb diameter for Power-Pro. We also like the Fins because it is rounder and smoother. Both of these superlines will last years longer than mono could ever dream of.

The initial cost of using Dacron or superlines over mono is a bit more, but what it allows you to do saves plenty in terms of time, money, and aggravation. You don’t have to change your backing every year. I have over 10yrs on some of my backing and it’s still good! I can use less of the expensive dipsey wire and still effectively get the job done. I can strip and refill the primary line quickly and economically. And last but not least, I don’t have to change the backing for years!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me. I am always glad to help. Also, if you would like please sign up for our Lake Ontario fishing newsletter

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