Outfitting A New Reel

I am a freshwater fisherman who wants to get into saltwater fly-fishing, and I plan to fish the flats and inshore water here in the Low Country. My friends say I should buy an 8-weight saltwater reel. My question is, What size line and how much backing do I need?

Q: I am a freshwater fisherman who wants to get into saltwater fly-fishing, and I plan to fish the flats and inshore water here in the Low Country. My friends say I should buy an 8-weight saltwater reel. My question is, What size line and how much backing do I need?

-Gerald Bowman of Charleston, South Carolina

A: Gerald, you'll get all sorts of answers on this, but I would suggest a reel that will hold the 8-weight fly line and about 150 yards of backing. With a fly line about 30 yards long and this amount of backing, the fish would have to run almost the length of two football fields before you run out of string and that isn't going to happen. If you are new to saltwater fly-fishing, you will soon learn that many anglers use hooks that are too large and buy too much backing.