**Q: **“I put 50-pound braided line on my reel for backing, but I’m having trouble with it. On two occasions I’ve hooked good size fish off an oil rig in Texas. Both times the line dug deep in the backing and broke my leader. I like the idea of being able to put much more of this thinner line on my fly reel, but I never had this problem with the 30-pound Dacron I’ve used for years. Any suggestions?”
A: All backing should be put on under pressure. If it’s not, when under stress during a fish fight, the line will bury in the base. If the fish surges away, your leader will undoubtedly break. Braided line does require extra attention. It should be spooled firmly and should lie on the spool in a crosshatch style, in which the line is layered at slight angles back and forth. The simplest trick I know for installing any backing on the reel is to use two tennis balls and a long, thin screwdriver. Push the screwdriver through one ball, place the spool of braided line on the screwdriver, and then put the other ball through the screwdriver. Have someone hold the unit and apply pressure against the two tennis balls. This allows the line to settle smoothly and firmly on the reel.