alan tani @ alantani.com fishing reel repair rebuild tutorial what is the maximum drag?
Fishing Reel Repair by Alan Tani
October 30, 2014, 07:56:44 PM *
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alantani
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« on: July 26, 2009, 02:01:16 PM »

What's the maximum drag?
 
I've gotten this question quite a bit.  The "maximum drag at strike..." specifically applies to lever drag reels, but all reels have a functional "maximum drag."  A maximum is the highest number of pounds, but what is functional?  Going back to some previous discussions, let's just say that I am looking for a maximum drag with 10% start up or less.  If the drags are too sticky or if they are locked down, I am just going to call them "non-functional."  Let's look at the different reel designs.

Spinning Reels - For spinners, just tighten down the knob to set the drag.  Nothing fancy here.  The more you tighten it down, the more drag you get.  At some point, the drag knob will bottom out or the drag washers will lock up and you will have just hit your functional "maximum" drag.  Many spinners can actually reach such high settings that you can damage the reel.   One of two things will fail at this point, the bail or the gears.  I guess we'll have to add that drag settings high enough to damage a reel would also be "non-functional."  

Star Drag Conventional and Baitcasting Reels - Nothing fancy here, either.  Turn the star down for more drag pressure.  As a VERY rough rule of thumb, each drag washer inside the main gear of a star drag stack will contribute about 5 pounds of drag.  Obviously, there are many variables here, but this is a fairly consistent guide.  Low profile baitcasters with a single drag under the main gear and a single drag washers inside will deliver an easy 5 pounds of drag.  Larger round baitcasters and smaller conventional reels with a single drag washer under the main gear and three drag washers inside the main gear will deliver roughly 15 pounds of drag.  Careful, though.  15 pounds of drag on a 4, 5 or 6000 series ambassaduer will shred the main gear on the first pull.  More than 7-8 pounds of drag on a squidder, jigmaster or smaller penn senator will round off the 98-60 gear sleeve (drive shaft).  Full-sized conventional reels (4/0-sized or larger) typically have a single drag washer under the main gear and 5 drag washers inside.  These reels usually deliver a maximum of drag of 25 pounds.  The 4/0-sized Penn Senator 113h drag stack will deliver just that amount of drag, but you run the risk of damage to the main gear a drag settings in excess of 20 pounds.  Let's just call the function drag range of a Penn 113h to be 20 pounds or less.  That's why this reel is commonly rigged with straight 50 pound monofilament and a perfectly happy 15 pound drag setting.  

Lever Drag Reels - These reels are designed to deliver tremendous drag ranges in a compact frame.  Lever drag reels the size of an ambassaduer can deliver the same amount of drag as a 4/0 senator.  This design can also incorporate dual gear sets to give you high speed or low speed at the push of a button.  This the reason that they are so popular, and so expensive.

To adjust the drag pressure, push the drag lever back to the "free" position, then turn the preset knob clockwise to increase the drag and counterclockwise to decrease it.  Now push the lever to "strike" and check the drag setting by pulling on the line with a scale.  Simply repeat this process until you've reached your desired drag setting.  Turning down the preset knob moves the drag pressure plate closer to the drag washer.  If you are trying to achieve a very high drag setting, it is possible that the drag and pressure plate can come in contact.  When that happens, you will loose freespool.  With the lever still in "free," you'll have to back off the preset knob just a smidge to restore freespool.  At that point, you can push the lever forward to "strike" and measure the drag.  This drag setting will be the "maximum drag setting at strike" before losing freespool.  

There is no law that prevents you from turning the preset knob past the "maximum drag setting at strike."  Similarly, there is nothing to prevent you from pushing the lever past "strike" to "full."  Simply be aware that the resulting high drag settings might damage a right main side plate bearing, break the base of a graphite frame, or shred a stainless steel gear.  Sometimes this kind of damage can occur at relatively "low" drag settings.  The Avet MX can be modified to deliver nearly 20 pounds of drag at strike before losing freespool, but drag settings in excess of 9 pounds cause the right main side plate bearing to bind.  The Shimano TLD 30 two speed can be modified to reach 25 pounds of drag at strike before losing freespool, yet the frame has been reported to break at the base at those settings.  The news is not all bad, however.  The Shimano Charter Special 1000's and 2000's can modified to perform well at a 15 pound drag at strike before losing freespool.  Now if the Charter Special only came with a topless frame!
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 08:20:44 PM by alantani » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2014, 06:35:34 PM »

Alan,

Do you test the max drag with line pulled straight from the reel, or with the reel on the rod with line through the guides and the rod making a healthy curve?
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 12:01:21 AM »

both.  if the guides are in good shape, there should be a 10% increase in drag when you go from a straight pull to rearing back on the rod.  this is actually a good way to check the guides.  if your guides give you more then a 10% increase, then there might be a problem with them. 
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 06:38:15 AM »

If one is going to test the max drag of their reel against the rod make sure your rod is rated high enough. I test my reels on the rod by doing a straight pull. If I want to test the reel's max by lifting something then I transfer it to a very heavy duty rod and tie onto a heavy dumbbell.
My 300 series Newells for example will lift a 30 lb dumbbell but the rods that I fish with can not do that so I have to switch for the test. The rods that I use with a 300 gets tested with a twenty lb dumbbell lift. (Calstar 800M)


When I do a straight pull test on a reel at say 25 t0 30 lb range I like to get a double wrap around my hand and then pull some. I want to create some muscle memory so that I can recreate this while on the boat. Works for me.

I had a friend over a couple weeks ago and I ran into something that never occurred to me. The strength of the individual. We pulled his reel at 18 lb and I told him to now pull some off by hand to get familiar with the feel. He could not pull it off. So if you don't have a lot of strength there is a problem setting your drags on the boat. And then another question arises. If you turn the drag down tight can you hold onto your rod after hooking a big fish?

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Aiala
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2014, 07:16:20 AM »

If you turn the drag down tight can you hold onto your rod after hooking a big fish?

Yup... there are more than a few rod/reel combos littering the Pacific depths. I once witnessed an International setup get yanked over the side... a truly terrible sight.   Cry

~A~
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2014, 05:36:57 PM »

Good discussion. I also try to get a feel for how a certain amount of drag feels when pulling out line by hand. I failed to do this last week, and damaged my 600H. I was trying to fish it with about 25 pounds, but at that setting I need gloves to keep from cutting myself. Lesson learned.
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