Gary Howey fishing outside lines drag rods and anglers
No matter what you fish, every reel has some kind of drag.
It could be a star drag system, mounted in the front, center, or rear, and that’s important.
If you put your rod and reel away for the winter without loosening the drag, you might be surprised the next time you use it, as most drag systems consist of two fiber washers that press together. against each other, allowing the spool to release. . If they get wet the washers could and eventually become frozen or stuck together, so it’s very important to remove your drag before putting them away for the season.
The drag of your reel allows your spool with your line to slip when extra pressure is put on the line by a hard-charging fish.
Some anglers think the only drag they can rely on is the reel drag. Wrong!
Others don’t realize the importance of the absence of a heavy drag when playing a fish. While it is true that a drag should be tight enough to pull the fish out of brush and thick trees and for normal fishing, the drag should be set at about a quarter of the line break test.
A good method of checking your drag would be to pull on your line with light pressure. If the drag does not allow you to pull the line from the reel, it is more than likely that it is set too heavy or too tight.
Why? Because more line is removed from the reel, the friction of the line passing through the water actually increases the drag, sometimes doubling the amount of drag applied.
Another reason why a brake needs to be set loosely is that it can always be tightened. A tight drag cannot always be released, especially when fighting a big fish. At this point you focus on the arrival of the fish and you may not have time to play with the drag.
Your second trail is your palm or your fingers or maybe a few of them. The manual finger drag that you can apply to the line at any time is invaluable when playing with a large fish, especially the running one.
When using a bait casting reel, your thumb handles the second drag tasks. But when it comes to spinning, fly fishing, and spin casting, a lot of people think the drag on the reel they put on is the only drag they have.
Also, when a fish is brought to the boat or shore, there is a good chance it will make a sudden lunge. If your brake is too tight, it can break or come loose. With a loose drag, this will not happen.
With the “second” drag in hand and the reel drag set loosely, you are always in control. If you need to tighten the trail, simply apply finger pressure to the spool of thread. That way, if the fish needs to make a sudden lunge, you can easily release the drag with your finger and allow it to pull against your loose drag.
Another piece of your gear that when used correctly in combination with drag will help you land a big fish is your rod. The right action rod will bend when the fish run away, taking the pressure off your line.
When fighting a fish, you’ll want to keep the tip of your rod high, allowing the pressure to be removed from the trail and absorbed by the rod. Next, keeping the line taut, curl towards the fish, then bring your rod back to the up position, allowing the flex of the rod to put pressure on the fish, then curl it up. This allows the rod to do the job, without overloading the drag
The important thing to remember is to allow your rod to work properly and that the second trail – our fingers – will still be there if you need to apply more pressure.
Watertown High School graduate Gary Howey now lives in Hartington, Neb. He is a former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide. He was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017.