Drag – How to use – How Tight – etc…

December 1, 2015 6:27 am0 commentsViews: 115

I bet most occasional fishers are less than clear on how to effectively use the drag

features of their reels.

Here is an excerpt from an article that may help.

Let the rod fight the fish. The reel is just to get the line back. In one case, Kelly’s, I had the drag set very loose and in the other instance it was nearly locked down completely. Which way is best?

Neither or both might be correct. To answer that question, a person must have an understanding of the drag system on a reel and how it functions. Drag systems on most reels are actually a clutch that allows the spool to slip. A knob, star washer or lever, controls the amount of pull required to make the spool slip. When the fish is pulling on the line, the drag should slip before the line reaches its breaking point. That’s the whole point of having a drag.

In years gone by they used to have direct drive reels with no drag or anti-reverse. They were commonly called “knuckle busters.” When a fish pulled hard enough to spin the handle backwards, you felt like you were back in Catholic school and the sister was cracking your knuckles with a ruler.

Actually, the maximum drag should slip at about 25-33% of the breaking strength of the line. Say you are fishing with 30# line-the drag should be set at about 10#’s. That’s ten pounds off the tip of the rod. Most people set their drag by pulling on the line next to the reel. I always tell them,” Fish don’t have hands. They don’t reach up next to your reel and pull on the line. They pull the line through the guides and off the tip of your rod. The drag has to be measured off the tip.”

That can be done with a scale and be exact or you can simply have someone pull off about 20 yards and pretend that they are a fish. You can then adjust the drag by gradually tightening it down until it reaches the point that it’s hard to hold onto the rod. For most people, that will be around 10-12#’s of drag and then back off the drag slightly. If you are fishing the flats it’s better to err on the loose side unless there are Mangroves at the edge of the flat and maybe not even then. Additional drag can be applied to try to stop a fish by the application of the thumb and one or two fingers on the spool of a spinning reel. Do that on the lower part of the spool skirt. You can actually grab the spool if necessary and stop it completely, hold it till the rod looks like it’s going to pop and then release it. This is much preferred to trying to tighten the drag knob since the question would be ¼ of a turn, ½ turn, etc. You have no way of knowing how much more drag you are applying but with the thumb and finger(s) you can feel exactly how much additional drag you are applying.

The link to the entire post:

Here is a video for those who prefer to learn by watching.

In this “How To” episode, Graeme Pullen gives you one of the BEST TIPS TO STOP YOUR FISHING LINE BREAKING WHEN YOU DO HOOK THAT ALL IMPORTANT BIG FISH! This video covers fishing reels for both COARSE fishing and SEA fishing.The fishing reel does not only store line, it also acts as a break to let line go out to the stronger fish. Many anglers don’t realise you can actually set the reel’s drag using a spring balance. It doesn’t matter if it is a carp or a monster tiger shark, the same principles apply.


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