12 Ways to Avoid Line Twist, Snarls, and Tangles

Line that has been wound too loosely on the spool when first put on, or that later forms a loop, will cause casting problems.
Line that has been wound too loosely on the spool when first put on, or that later forms a loop, will cause casting problems. Ken Schultz

The hallmarks of spinning tackle include versatility, a short learning curve to casting proficiency, and comfortable use thanks to a reel that sits under the rod handle. But this equipment - whose reel features a stationary spool around which line is wound - can be problematic when it comes to some aspects of casting and retrieving. Here are twelve ways to cut down on issues, particularly line twist, which is mainly caused by improper use of equipment.

Don’t Turn the Handle When the Drag Is Slipping

This is a sure way to quickly put twist in a line, and is especially problematic with spinning reels.

Put Line on a Spool Correctly

Here’s the proper way to put fishing line on a reel. If you can’t get the hang of it, have a tackle shop do it for you.

Use a Swivel With Lures That Spin

A lure that spins or rolls over causes line twist. You must use a swivel ahead of this, most likely a snap-swivel to which the lure is directly tied.

Use Newer Spinning Reels With Large, Revolving Line Rollers

In older reels, line twist can occur by the simple act of line passing over the line roller on the bail arm of the reel when the handle is turned. The roller moves line from the spinning reel bail to the spool but may cause it to turn over (twist) in the process. Newer and better reels have sharp roller slopes, grooves in the roller, and larger surface area, which helps eliminate slack line movement on the roller surface and help keep the line in such a position that it doesn’t turn over.

Remove Twist As Soon As It Occurs

If a lure starts to spin when you dangle it from the rod tip, let it keep spinning until it stops to remove minor twist. Figure out the cause and address it (see numbers 1 through 4 above). To undo more severe twisting, let a long length of line out behind your boat, with nothing attached to the end of it, and drag it along for a few minutes. The faster the boat travels the quicker the line untwists. Reel the line back and attach terminal gear. You can achieve the same effect on moderate- to fast-flowing water by letting the unweighted line float downstream and then hold it in the current for several minutes.

Watch for Errant Loops on the Spool

Snafus can occur when an errant loop gets on the spinning reel spool and is overwrapped by line. These loops often occur as a result of momentary slack from angling technique or because of backward movement of the reel bail. Let out enough line to get to the loop and re-spool with tension on the line.

Don't Reel Over a Tangle or Cast With One

That will make the problem worse. Stop immediately and pick apart the strands.

More Tension Equals Fewer Problems

Some angling activities, like a semi-slack slow retrieve of lures that have a minimal water resistance (light jigs or jerk baits, for example), don’t provide constant line tension and may be likely to cause twists or loops, especially if some of the aforementioned issues that affect line twist exist. Be aware of this tendency and do your best to keep tension on the incoming line.

Stretch a Problem Nylon Line

When you’ve had twist and snafu problems with nylon line, you may avoid reoccurrence by stretching it. Catching a huge fish will stretch it, but more likely you’ll need to hook the line to a firm object and pull on it by hand (wrap the line around a hard round object). The shorter the length of problem line the easier this is to do.

Pre-Soak a Nylon Line

Pre-soaking a spinning reel spool filled with nylon line in warm water helps relax line memory. The resulting reduction in coiling can help improve casting and minimize line-related problems.

Make Low-Trajectory Casts in the Wind

This helps keep lures, especially long slender plugs, from tumbling and getting their hooks caught on the line, which totally ruins a retrieve. Sidearm casts, where possible, work best.

Use a Fast-Tip Rod, and Reel the Lure Close to the Top Guide

Usually you should let a lure hang a few inches below the rod tip for a cast; but to minimize line-and-hook tangling with a soft rod or in wind, keep the lure within an inch or less of the top guide, which helps keep the lure from tumbling due to the snapping motion of the rod tip.