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04: Top Shot

Between The Lines - Ch 03: Connections

0304 BackgroundThe term top shot applies to a section of line that is joined to the backing of a reel. This could be any combination of lines. The system is often used to replace a damaged or old tip section that is worn or damaged. It can also be used to join different types of line to benefit from the individual characteristics of each, such as non-stretch Dacron or Spectra to a working end of nylon which has some stretch and is easier to handle.

There are many methods used to connect top shots to backing including knots such as the double uni and several loop-to-loop systems. The system described below is based on splicing nylon to Dacron by threading the nylon up the inside of the hollow braided Dacron, and then binding the Dacron to the nylon, resulting in a very secure strong connection. It is one of the most complex systems used, once mastered, makes the others very simple. Due to its complexity, the method is mainly used on heavy tackle of 80lb and over. The methods are very useful as they can be used in many other applications on boat gear and fishing tackle

Spliced Top Shot:

In this tutorial, we will be joining 80lb Dacron to 80lb nylon. Prepare the tools as noted on the previous page. We'll be inserting the nylon inside the Dacron for a length of 10 feet. Soaking this length of Dacron in some hot water will soften it, making it easier to work with.


1- Insert the end of the nylon into a splicing needle. Try and get as tight a fit as possible. You can also use just a touch of superglue to glue the nylon inside the needle.


Once the needle is ready to insert it into the side of the Dacron about an inch from its end.


Keep threading the needle and nylon for the total distance wanted. As you continue the Dacron will bunch up at the back of the needle. This should be gently slid up the nylon ensuring you don't pull the nylon out of the back of the needle.

2- Push the needle through the side of Dacron making sure that you don't catch any of the fine Dacron threads. Pull out about four feet of nylon to work with.


3- Use a piece of rough sandpaper, say 100 grit, to roughen up the last two feet of nylon and taper the end of the nylon so there are no bumps or sharp edges that may wear or cut into the Dacron.

0304 06roughnylon
4- Gently ease the roughened nylon back into the Dacron and note the position where the tag on the nylon enters the Dacron.

5- The first bind to secure the splice is at the end of the nylon. There are many ways of binding and many materials you can use. We will use several in this exercise. In this bind, we are using waxed thread which is applied in a series of half hitches.


All bindings should be as tight as possible. The length is up to the individual, but they should be at least an inch. 


6- The most critical factor is that the Dacron must be stretched as tightly as possible over the nylon.

7- The next bind is halfway down the splice. For this one, we'll use a fly-tying bobbin spooled with 80lb Spectra, which makes a very neat quick bind.


To end the bind we insert a pull-through loop about six turns before ending the bind. 


The end of the thread is passed through the loop then pulled back under the bind and neatly trimmed close to the bind. 


8- The final bind is placed where the nylon enters the Dacron. This is actually the only bind that is necessary. Once again stretch the Dacron over the nylon as much as possible. 


For this bind, we'll use another tool called the Bjorn Bobbin normally used in archery to bind bowstrings, which is also spooled with 80lb Spectra, though any thickness thread from 30 to 100lb would be fine.

To finish off the splice you can coat any of the binds that are not done with wax thread with flexible adhesive or rubberised superglue ensuring you give it time to dry before spooling it onto the reel.