How To Put A Centerpin Reel On

This Is How To Put A Centerpin Reel On

You may think this is a pretty basic topic but I have even seen advanced Centerpin anglers do it wrong when using Centerpin rods with sliding rings. Where to put your Centerpin reel on the rod and how to secure the reel is something a lot of new anglers aren’t sure about. These are my guide tips and tricks for new and advanced anglers so you know exactly how to put a Centerpin reel on and why.

To put the Centerpin reel on properly you will need to place it in an area that gives you the best balance for the Centerpin reel that you use. Once it’s in the right spot you will need to secure it with tape to be sure the sliding rings do not move.

Centerpin Reel on a rod with a built in reel seat
A Centerpin Reel on a rod with a built in reel seat which is positioned in the middle of the handle.

Some anglers prefer the reel at the top of the rod handle and some prefer the reel closer to the butt section. Rods with built-in reel seats often put the reel seat in the middle of the rod to please the most anglers.

This may not be the best spot for you and your reel but if you buy a rod with a fixed reel seat you don’t have a choice of where to place your reel.

This article is about how to put a Centerpin reel on a rod with sliding rings.

Where you place the reel on a rod that has sliding rings is sometimes just a personal preference for some anglers, but many anglers get it wrong and put the reel in spots that provide less performance and less comfort.

Using rods with sliding rings will also allow you to balance out the rod better with lighter or heavier reels.

How To Put A Centerpin Reel On

An angler fighting a big fish on a Centerpin reel
An angler fighting a big fish on a Centerpin reel using the long butt section under his arm for leverage.

I like to put the reel as far up on the handle and as close to the rod blank as possible so that I have more butt section as leverage for fighting the fish.

Putting the Centerpin reel near the top of the rod handle also balances the rod out better.

If you are going to be Centerpin fishing all day you want the rod and reel to be comfortable in your hands.

Improper placement of a Centerpin reel
The improper placement of the reel on the rod will make fishing and fighting a big fish more difficult.

If the reel is too close to the butt end of the rod, it puts more stress on the wrist and the set-up will be very tip-heavy.

You also have very little leverage when fighting a fish if the Centerpin reel is too low on the reel handle yet I see even advanced anglers doing this.

It’s not a fly reel that has a drag so it needs to be as far up the handle as possible because your hand acts as the drag.

If the fish is running it’s not so bad because you can put your other hand up the rod for more leverage. But if you’re reeling, one hand needs to be on the reel handle as you can see in the picture above.

When you go to put your reel on, first place it at the very butt end and hold it with one hand. See how much strain is on your wrist.

Now move the reel all the way up the handle right to the rod blank and hold it again, this time put the handle butt section under your forearm and elbow or under your armpit and see how much strain is on your wrists. Then find a spot somewhere in between that feels good to you.

For a minute the strain on the wrist is not too bad but after 8 hours of fishing and fighting a bunch of big fish the strain is enormous if you have the reel to close the butt of the rod.

The rod handle placed under the armpit
The rod handle placed under the armpit with allow the angler to balance the rod on one figure if he wanted to. This position makes it easier to hold the rod with less wrist and forearm fatigue.

Having the handle under the armpit will allow you to hold the reel and rod with one finger. It also gives your leverage when fishing big fish.

I put all my reels at the spot on the rod that if I hold onto the reel and put my index finger on the rod handle the tip of my finger is about half an inch from the rod blank.

That’s usually about 2 thirds up from the butt of the rod handle.

How To Secure A Centerpin Reel To The Rod?

This is how to secure a Centerpin reel on a rod
using tape is a great way to secure a Centerpin reel on a rod with sliding rings. Just don’t wrap 50 layers and make it all fat and ugly looking. One wrap of tape never fails for me.

Once you get the reel in the right spot line the reel up with the guides, then pull the rings as tight to the reel seat as possible on both sides and then add a wrap or two of electrical tape.

Make sure the reel is perfectly lines up with the guides before you tape it on.

See the picture with the red electrical tape on the reel.

The reason for the tape is to prevent the sliding rings from loosening while fishing and then having your reel drop onto the rocks or into the river. I have seen this happen a bunch of times to guys while they are fishing, and while fighting a fish. I always carry a roll of electrical tape with me on guide trips.

Guide Tip – Never dent the outer rim of the spool, also known as the fighting rim which is your drag when fighting a fish. If you do, you will feel the dent hit your hands over and over again while fighting the fish. I know this from experience and it sucks!

Now that you have the reel on the rod and in a good spot you will need a good fishing line that works well with float fishing. Read my page Best Centerpin Line: What The Guides Use.

One you are all rigged up and ready to go you will need to run the line up and through the guides, add a float and a good leader. You can see the leader setups that I use on my page Steelhead Leaders: Best Float Leader And 2 Proven Setups.

Now you have your Centerpin reel setup and are all rigged and ready to go you will need to know how to fish with a Centerpin reel so go to my page Float Fishing: Tips From A Pro River Guide For More Trout where I share my 4 fundamentals for good Centerpin fishing. These 4 fundamentals will help you catch 10 times more fish.

Got A Question About How To Put A Centerpin Reel On?

Now you know how to put a Centerpin reel on. If I missed anything or you have a question or suggestion let me know in the comments below.

Tight Lines,


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  1. Amazing article, thank you. With regards to the balance. If I am finding proper balance with my finger past the cork just by the hook keeper, this would mean its more tip heavy. My reel is closer to where I like it where I have more butt section to use under arm. But I can feel that my wrist will tire this way. I will try and move it down a couple inches to see, if that balances out. Ideally one should have little to no wrist fatigue correct if properly balanced?

    1. Hi Ray, Most Centerpin rods will be tip-heavy, that’s the downside to a long rod. Some anglers will add weight/lead to the butt to balance it out better but this just increases overall weight. I balance the rod in my armpit or under my elbow which works for me. Keep playing around with different areas until you find something that works for you. And, yes, for some people wrist fatigue can be a problem.. Make sure you are not squeezing too hard on the handle and the reel, some of my client’s grip too hard and that causes fatigue.

  2. Excellent site…tons of information. I do have one question that was not addressed. With no drag on the centerpin reel, how does one stow the rigged line while moving to the next hole or walking to the dock?

    1. Hi Richard,

      The centerpin reel has what is called a clicker. The clicker is almost like a drag but only has one tension which is pretty light and it clicks when pulled to alert the angler that it is spinning. There is also usually a hook-keep on the rod to lock your hook in place.


  3. Hi Graham , a lot of great information. I have read through all your articles. I’m just starting this center pin fishing for the first time this weekend. You make it sound wonderful. I forgot to mention that I’m trying it here in Newfoundland for sea trout
    I have fished some of the smaller rivers in Ontario for rainbows back in 2000 with my brother, now that was fun.well just wanted to say thanks for all the helpful information.


    1. Hey Ray,

      I use about 4 inches of electrical tape, just enough to go around twice, and I pull it as I wrap in on to take out all the kinks so it’s smooth. It’s never let me down.

      Some guys will use hockey tape, and some guys also like to build up a bit of thickness with many wraps, but I don’t, I like it as thin as possible.

      If I do remove it to take the reel of, I only remove one side so that I always know where the reel was.

      Good luck, Graham.