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Equipment2 Light Tackle Fishing Setting Drag

Setting The Drag On A Lever Drag Fishing Reel

Properly setting the drag on a fishing reel is one of the most important things you can do to insure landing that fish of a lifetime.

On lever drag reels there are two drag settings we need to concern ourselves with, strike drag and full drag. The strike drag setting needs to be high enough to prevent backlash on the reel and below the point where the initial strike force or inertia exceeds the breaking strength of the line.

To properly set the strike drag, the conditions of the real fish strike should be simulated as closely as possible. There have been many discussions on the proper setting of strike drag on a fishing reel. For our discussion we will assume it should be somewhere in the range of 25% to 35% of the rated line breaking strength. (I.e., 30# line should have a strike drag setting in the range of 7-1/2 pounds to 10-1/2 pounds.)

The reel should be filled with fresh line within 1/8" of the shoulder of the spool flange. It shall be mounted on the rod it is to be used with and have the line running through the guides. The rod should be placed in a rod holder or held at a 45-degree angle. You will need a scale of the type that records the highest tension achieved, such as a Manley or Chatillion brass tube scale. Let out enough line so that any leaders, swivels or knots are beyond the guides and attach the scale to your line. Check to see the telltale marker on the scale is set to 0 pounds.

Pull down and away from the rod as quickly as you can to simulate the action of a striking fish.

Read the scale and adjust the drag on the reel according to the manufacturer’s directions. Reset the scale and re-test using the same technique to check the new setting. Continue this process until the desired setting (25% to 35% of rated line breaking strength) is reached.

Full drag will be set in the same manner as the strike drag was described

The full drag setting on the reel is usually set at no more the 50% of rated line breaking strength. (I.e., 30# line should have a full drag setting in the range of 15 pounds.)

Full drag should only be used to put additional pressure on a tired or mostly subdued fish. If you do use the full drag position and the fish suddenly decides to make a run quickly return the drag to the strike position to prevent a break off.





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