How To Tighten Fishing Line

How To Tighten Fishing Line

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If you are a fisherman, whether experienced or not, you know how important it is to have straight and taught line. If you have fishing line that is loose, it’s probably all twisted and curly too.

This is a big problem because curly and twisted lines make a huge mess, they wrap around rod tips and lures, and they are not easy to retrieve or to cast with. Fishing line that is loose is a downright pain in the neck.

There are quite a few reasons as to why your fishing line might be loose. Therefore, there are also many of how to tighten fishing line. Let’s get into it right now!

Why Is My Fishing Line Curly?

Yes, curly and wacky fishing line is definitely a drag when it comes to efficient casting and hook retrieval. A curly and warped line will be hard to retrieve, it gets wrapped around the tip of your rod, it doesn’t flow nice through the guides, and it makes a mess as it winds around the reel.

There are several reasons why your fishing line might be curly, so let’s talk about each of these.

Let’s talk about how to how to keep fishing line tight in regards to all of these issues. First there is a problem, and then there is a solution!

1. It Wasn’t Attached Properly

One of the reasons why the fishing line on your reel and rod might be loose and curly is because it was not attached properly in the first place. Now, this is something that really only happens if you attach the fishing line to the reel on your own.

If you get a fishing shop to use their fancy machines to attach the line to the reel, this really should not be a problem. With that being said, if you attached the line yourself, you might have done it wrong.

In other words, there is a chance that you attached the fishing line backwards. Yes, this is a thing. Simply put, when you load the fishing line onto the spool, it needs to be put on the reel’s spool in the exact same way as it came off the original spool. All fishing line has some memory, which means that it retains the shape of the spool which you buy it in, to a certain degree anyway.

Therefore, if the curls go in one direction from the spool, but you load it onto the reel backwards, it will get all tangled up, either on the reel spool, when you go to cast, or upon retrieval. The most important thing to remember here when loading line onto your reel is that the label of the purchased spool needs to be facing upwards.

This will help ensure that you load the line onto the spool the right way, this preventing a loose line and tangles.

2. It Has Too Much Memory

Another reason why your fishing line might not be straight and be all curly and twisted, is because it has too much memory. Line memory refers to how much of the shape it retains. For instance, if you have line that has lots of memory, and it spends a lot of time on the spool, it will retain that curly and circular shape.

When it comes to having line on your reel, and especially when you cast, that circular shape due to a high memory line will definitely show itself. You want a type of fishing line that has low memory in order to help it easily straighten back out once it comes off the reel.

The most common type of line to have a high memory is monofilament line. It tends to retain the shape of the spool it is on way too much, thus creating loose and curly line once you go to cast.

Therefore, you need to get a type of fishing line that has low memory, as it won’t retain the shape of the spool and reel quite as much, especially over longer time periods. To tighten your fishing line, in this case, you might just need to get new fishing line, one other than monofilament line that does not have lots of memory.

3. The Line Is Old

When it comes to loose and curly line, one problem you might have is that the line is just way too old. Some kinds of line tend to absorb a lot of water, which loosens them up, makes them less tight, and causes them to curl.

On that same note, all fishing line has a certain amount of memory. Even the best kinds of fishing line will retain certain shapes after they have been in use for too long.

If you have been using the same fishing line over and over again for weeks or even months on end without changing it, it is probably the reason as to why the fishing line is loose and curly. In other words, if you have been using the same line for a month or more, you just need to change the line.

All fishing line gets old, and when it does, it gets misshapen, warped, and curly. So, changing the fishing line for brand new stuff will probably help tighten things up a fait amount.

4. The Drag Is Too Low

Another reason as to why your fishing line might be too loose and get all curly is because the drag on your reel is not set high enough. If you did not already know, the drag system stops line from coming off the spool when a fish pulls on it.

For instance, if you have the drag set to 15 pounds, a fish will have to apply 15 pounds of opposing force in order to disengage the drag system, thus pulling line off the reel. The point of the drag system is to stop fish from pulling line off the reel, while at the same time ensuring that the line can be pulled out if the fish applies a lot of force, thus stopping the line from breaking.

Well, if you have the drag set too low, it will cause your line to be too lose. For instance, if you have the drag set at only 5 pounds, but the fish is much heavier and stronger than that, it will be able to pull the line off the reel with minimal effort, even if it should not be the case. If a fish pulls too much line off the reel, it will create a lot of slack, which in turn causes a loose line that can curl up.

Therefore, the easy fix to this problem is to increase the amount of drag which the system is set to, thus making it much harder for fish to pull the fishing line off the reel, which in turn will help keep it much tighter.

Generally speaking, this is usually one of the main reasons why fisherman experience line that is loose and gets curly. It’s one of the first things we would check for if our line was loose.

5. Heavy Line With A Light Lure

Yet another problem that can cause your line to be loose and get curly, is if you have a really heavy test line, but your lure is way too light for the line. If the lure is too light in comparison to the weight of the line, when you go to cast it, the lure won’t have enough weight and momentum to keep the fishing line taught.

This is why certain fishing lines and their weights are specifically meant for certain lure weights. If you have a super light lure, it just won’t be able to generate enough force to keep the fishing line tight. It may result in the line actually coming off the line faster than the speed at which the lure can fly through the air. The simple solution here is to get a heavier lure for the line you have.

On the flipside of things, you can always try changing the fishing line for a lighter option. Either option here will do just fine. Keep in mind that this problem only gets worse if you are casting into the wind, as the light lure will meet a lot of wind resistance when being cast, thus causing loose line.

6. Spinners & Other Lures Can Twist Up Line

There are some lures out there which can actually twist your line up pretty good. For instance, if you have a spinner or jig on the line, it might cause the line to twist up as you reel it back in, especially in certain conditions.

No, the twisting on its own may not cause loose line, but if you don’t untwist the line, combined with line that has too much memory, it will get misshapen and eventually become loose as it comes off the reel. Therefore, if you are using a spinner and you notice the line twisting, you need to untwist it, use a different lure, or a different fishing technique.

The type of lure you are using, especially if it is a light spinner, can definitely cause loose line. Just make sure that your spinner or other lure does not cause the line to twist as you are trolling or retrieving it. This is actually one of the harder problems to solve.

This is because the lure is underwater as you are retrieving it, thus making it hard to see if it is actually twisting the line, especially if you are doing a fast paced retrieval.

7. The Bail Is Not In Its Proper Position

Some people make the mistake of running the line from the reel through the guides with the bail in the closed position. This is a mistake, because if the bail is closed, the line will already be as tight as it can be. This is because when the bail closes, it will pull the line back a couple of inches, thus tightening things up a bit.

You need to run the line through the guides with the bail in the open position. Therefore, when you start reeling the line back in, the bail will automatically close, thus tightening things up by a couple of inches. If you run the line through the guides with the bail already closed, once you start reeling, it won’t tighten up any more because the bail has nowhere to go.

This is a big deal and something that many beginner fishermen do not know about.

8. Casting Into The Wind Or Current

The problem of fishing line that is not tight enough might be as simple as casting with the wind instead of against it. If you are casting into wind, especially strong winds, the lure and your line will meet a lot of resistance in the air.

However, although the lure and line meets resistance in the air, it won’t stop or slow down the line in terms of coming off the reel. Therefore, the line will get very loose when flying through the air, thus creating a lot of slack and the potential for curls, twists, and tangles.

The lighter the line and lure is, combined with stronger winds, the bigger this problem gets. The easiest solution here, if possible, is to reposition yourself so you are casting with the wind instead of against it.

On that same note, if you are casting against a water current, it will be virtually impossible to keep the line tight. The lure and line will move with the water current, therefore making it impossible for the line to be tight.

Needless to say, when you are casting, make sure that you are casting with the water current, not against it.

9. A Low Gear Ratio & Slow Retrieval

The final problem which may be causing your fishing line to be loose and curly is that the gear ratio on your reel is not high enough and that the line is being retrieved too slowly for what you are doing.

If the fish you have on the line is very light and is not fighting much, you need to be able to reel it in quickly.

If you don’t reel it in quickly and the fish is just kind of floundering around in the water and left to its own devices, the line won’t be nearly tight enough and may begin to twist and curl.

Therefore, the solution here is to get a reel with a higher gear ratio so you retrieve a larger length of line with each handle crank. The faster you can reel the line in, the tighter it will be. Faster is not always better, but in the case of loose line, it can definitely help.


The main thing here is to be patient. Yes, as you can see, there are many issues which can cause your fishing line to be too loose. How to tighten fishing line all depends on the underlying problem. You need to be patient, assess the situation, and find out what the actual problem is before you can begin applying the proper remedy.