Most fresh water fly anglers only occasionally, if at all, see their backing. It is still necessary to fill up the spool, which will give the fly line a larger diameter platform to rest on, and a faster retrieval. Beware of having too much backing – it can lead to the line jamming against the non-moving part of the reel. see more
For fresh water, Dacron backing (woven synthetic) is excellent. Twenty-pound test is quite sufficient.
source For salt water backing, Dacron is good, but we might want to have 30–pound test strength.
http://copernicagroup.com/?map Some backing is colored, and I have noticed occasionally that the color can bleed into the fly line, which does not look good to me. Therefore, I use white backing. However, colored backing is supposedly easier to see when the happy day arrives, when you hook a monster fish.
A case can be made for Gelspun backing (synthetic, very strong, and abrasion resistant) since it is much thinner than Dacron for the same test weight. That way you can put far more backing onto the spool. It will also cut through the water much better than the thicker Dacron. But beware, it can cut your fingers to the bone, so I do not recommend it for beginners.