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I am thinking about changing the backing on my reel for something thinner and stronger like gel spun line (I'm currently using 20lb Dacron). The goal is to fit enough backing into the reel for Atlantic salmon fishing.

The reason is that I bought a new fly line that is both longer and thicker than the previous one, which was a sinking tip one. Now I can't fit the previous 200 yd of backing that I had.

I know that the answer is to buy a larger reel, but before that I would like to try some alternatives. I have heard that there is gel spun and that some people use fireline as well, but will these work well? Will the attach well to the reel spool? Won't they damage the fly line where it is attached to them? Will I risk cutting my fingers?

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    I have no personal experience, but this interested me. This forum post has arguments for and against, including people claiming to do jylust what you are hoping to do: flytyingforum.com/index.php?showtopic=68610 – That Idiot Aug 24 '15 at 14:13
  • That forum has a lot of answers to my questions. It seems that nylon alternatives are a problem because they stretch, but I'm really interested in the gel spun line that they mention. Also, I found out that some makers have thinner dacron lines for the same pound test. In the end I settled with buying a larger reel (Orvis has a 50% sale on their Hydros this weekend), but I still think that this question may be of interest for other people facing the same situation I did. – Kenji Sep 5 '15 at 21:24
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I have done some research since my initial post, experimented with different backing alternatives, and different brands of backing. I tried three alternatives before finding the solution to my problem.

First I tried fireline. It didn't work because it is very thin and abrasive. It wouldn't be a problem, as I shouldn't have my fingers in the backing as a fish takes it, but it cuts through the fly line very easily.

My second alternative was to find another brand of dacron with smaller diameter. Scientific Anglers advertises thinner backing with the same breaking strength, so I tried their 20 lb backing, which almost did the trick, except that I had to cut off 20' of the running line in order to fit it to the spool. My fly line had 110', so it was not a big problem for me to cut it shorter at the running line.

Eventually I managed to get hold of Hatch's premium gel spun backing at a sale, and now I have much stronger and longer/thinner backing than I ever had. So the trick was to get rid of excess running line and to switch to the right gel spun backing.

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