Fishing Line Tangled: How to Reduce and Avoid Wind Knots?

Fishing Line Tangled

Every angler, no matter the experience level, will sooner or later have fishing line tangled.

This occurrence is annoying and usually happens in the worst possible moment. Luckily, there are ways to resolve this issue, and even steps to take to prevent it. To avoid it, you will have to adjust your casting and reeling technique.

Replacing some parts of your fishing gear could help too.

Some fishing lines are advertised as tangle free, but even those are not completely resistant.

So, here I will explain more about the causes of this problem, and how to resolve it, in the following chapters:



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10 Reasons Why Your Fishing Line Get Tangled

Mostly, tangled lines are caused by the angler and the mistakes that he does.

So, to avoid the problems, read the following reasons ...

Reason #1: Casting Into the Wind 

When casting into the wind, you will make a certain move (as you always do, even when casting downwind) and the line will “fly” out at a certain speed. As the line passes the tip of your rod, the wind will start slowing it down. However, the line coming off the reel will still travel at the initial speed.

Line that travels between the reel and the first guide will have the highest velocity. As the line slows down between every other guide and even more when it leaves the rod tip, tangles start occurring because the fast part is catching the slower part and they start overlapping.

This occurrence causes loops and knots and soon it becomes a nightmare which is hard to fix.

Fishing Line Tangled - Wind-Knots

Reason #2: Slack Line When Retrieve

Another problem when it comes to line tangling is a slack line.

When reeling it back, you should always have some tension to the line that enables tight and even coils on the spool (you can even use your hands and fingers to do so). Slack will result in loose coils and when casting a line like that, loose parts will travel at greater speeds than those tightly “packed”. This will result in knots and tangles forming close to the reel.

Anglers who use baitcasting reels will encounter backlashes more frequently. When they cast, the lure will slow down at some point, especially when casting into the wind, but the spool will not. Knots will form in the same way as knots form on spinning reels.

Fishing Line Tangled - Tension

Reason #3: Overfilling the Reel / Spool

Someone may not realize that cramming too much line onto your fishing reel can lead to annoying tangles when casting. It's tempting to think more line equals more chances of catching fish, but there's a fine balance.

Overfilling the spool puts extra strain on your casting technique and often causes the line to spill over the edge, creating loops and knots.

Keep an eye onto the spool's capacity guidelines – they're there for a reason. Stick to them and you'll avoid the headache of untangling line when you should be fishing. Remember, the goal is a smooth, castable reel, not one that's bursting at the seams.

Reason #4: Not Closing the Bail

Line tangling can often happen when the reel bail is left open. To prevent this, always remember to close the bail after casting.

Closing the bail reduces the chances of the line getting tangled and causing a frustrating mess. Additionally, checking the tackle and using the proper techniques can also help avoid tangles.

One trick is to open the bail only when necessary and immediately close it after casting to maintain control over the line. 

Reason #5: Low-Quality Line Material

Your choice of fishing line can significantly impact whether you're reeling in the big one or spending your day fighting with a bird's nest of knots.

Don't skimp on quality when selecting your line. Low-quality materials are prone to twisting and coiling, which is a fast track to tangles. They often have inconsistent diameters and rough textures that increase friction, making the line more susceptible to knotting.

A good line should be smooth, with a consistent strength that lets you cast effortlessly and manage your reel without a hitch. If you're noticing more tangles than usual, check the line's quality. It might be time to invest in a higher-grade new line that'll save you headaches and improve your chances of a successful catch.

Fishing Line Tangled - Low-Quality

Reason #6: Neglecting Line Maintenance

If you don't keep up with regular line maintenance, you'll likely face more tangles on your fishing expeditions.

Just like any other gear, your fishing line requires attention to perform at its best. Over time, lines can develop twists, kinks, and coils that lead to frustrating snarls. You've got to clean your line periodically to ensure it flows smoothly through the guides.

Don't forget to check for wear and tear too. Nicks and frays weaken the line, increasing the chance of knots during casting or retrieval. And if you're not storing your reel properly, you're inviting trouble. Exposure to extreme temperatures and sunlight degrades the line, making it more prone to tangling.

Stay vigilant—proper maintenance is the key to keeping those lines clear.

Reason #7: Mismatched Rod, Reel and Line

Using a reel or rod that doesn't match your line type can lead to tangles during your casts. It's like trying to thread a needle with a rope - it just won't work well.

Each rod, reel, and line combination is designed to complement each other. If you're using a heavy line with a light reel, you're asking for trouble. The reel may not have enough power to handle the weight, causing your line to loop and twist unnaturally.

Similarly, a heavy rod with a light line won't give you the control you need, making it difficult to cast smoothly.

Always check the specifications on your gear and make sure they're compatible. It'll save you a lot of hassle and keep your line tangle-free.

Fishing Line Tangled - Braided

Reason #8: Inadequate Casting Method

Your casting technique significantly influences whether your line tangles during your fishing. If you're not smooth and consistent, you'll likely end up with a knotted mess.

When you cast, make sure you're timing the release of the line with precision. Releasing too early or to late can cause the line to loop and twist in the air, leading to tangles when it hits the water.

Also, you should pay attention to your casting angle and casting distance. A sidearm cast might look cool, but it often leads to more line twists than an overhead cast.

Practice your motion so it's fluid, and watch your line lay out straight. That way, you'll minimize the chances of a frustrating tangle just as you're ready to reel in the big one.

Reason #9: Knots and Line Memory

Amid your fishing endeavors, improperly tied knots and the innate coil of line memory can be prime culprits for tangles.

Knots must be tied with precision; any loose or incorrect knotting can snag or loop unexpectedly. You'll want to learn and practice reliable fishing knots that suit your fishing style and the conditions you're facing.

Line memory refers to the line's tendency to hold the shape it's been stored in. If your line's been on the spool for a while, it'll retain those loops and twists, leading to a frustrating day on the water. To combat this, you can stretch your line before use or opt for lines with lower memory.

Reason #10: Incorrect Line Weight for Lure

Choosing the wrong weight for your fishing line can lead to frustrating tangles during your casts. When your line's too heavy or too light for your rod, reel, lure or the type of fish you're after, it doesn't cooperate.

A line that's too light may lack the momentum needed to unspool smoothly, causing it to loop and twist upon itself. Conversely, a line that's too heavy can overload the reel, leading to an unmanageable slack that's prone to knotting.

Make sure you're matching your line weight to the specifications of your fishing gear and the fishing conditions. If you're unsure, consult the recommendations that typically come with your rod, reel and lures, or ask a seasoned angler.

Fishing Line Tangled - Line-Weight

How To Untangle A Fishing Line Twist in Reel?

Getting your fishing line tangled is easy, but untangling it can be quite a challenge ...

First of all, try not to apply tension on the line because the problem will get even worse.

If you are using spinning reel ...

STEP #1: Gently pull the line to pull out untangled parts to see where, and how big, the problem is (make sure that the drag is locked).

STEP #2: Press the spool and turn the handle just a little bit.

STEP #3: Try to pull out a bit more line.

STEP #4: Repeat as many times as necessary.

This procedure will work for smaller tangles. And moving the spool will loosen the knot ...

However, if you have a bigger problem and you don’t want to cut it off, you will have to sit down and start picking trough the line with your fingers, locating a problem after a problem, and untangling a knot after a knot.

It is a tedious task and it may not end up successfully. Do everything slowly and don’t force anything because it will result in a bigger mess.

Anglers who use baitcasting reels ...

STEP #1: Hold the reel from the bottom and press the release button. The goal is to get access to the spool and that the spindle can turn.

STEP #2: Pull the line coming out of the spool to locate the problem and see which part is wrapped around.

STEP #3: Take small pliers and hold the knot (be careful not to cut the line). Knots are usually wrapped by loose lines. 

STEP #4: Pull the knot to remove it from the spool.

STEP #5: Try to gently untangle whatever came off the spool.

STEP #6: Keep pulling until you get the mainline off, and repeat the process for every knot.

STEP #7: When you untangle everything, check for twists and reel the line back.

STEP #8: When reeling, make sure everything is nice and tight.

Same as with spinning reels, this method will work when the tangle is not too large.

Sometimes, if the damage is large, you will have to cut it off. Unfortunately, it is not possible to fix every tangling problem.

Fishing Line Tangled - Dont Panic

Which Fishing Reels are Most Prone to Tangling and Backlashes?

Both spinning and baitcasting reels can encounter this problem. It is usually due to your inexperience or improper handling.

I would say that baitcasters are worse when it comes to backlashes. Backlashes can be caused by casting into the wind, or with improper settings on your reel (brakes and spool tension). In addition to that, if you don’t know how to control and slow down the spool with your thumb, problems may become even worse.

Those who use baitcasters know that the worst tangles are so called birds nests. Those annoying tangles can form around the spool when the spool rotates too fast and releases a lot of line that can’t “escape” from the rod. Common causes are wind, too light lures, and inability to control the reel.

Unfortunately, it can happen even to the most experienced anglers.

Fishing Line Tangled - Double Check


If you get your fishing line tangled, calm down and try not to force the knots to untangle. Slowly remove those knots one by one.

Practice all the prevention methods and you will be able to avoid this problem.

And one more thing, if your line gets tangled frequently and you are doing your best to avoid it, maybe the problem is the line itself. Fishing lines should be replaced once in a while and by doing so, you could make a difference.

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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