Pacific Coast Sportfishing Blogs

Started by alantani, March 23, 2009, 01:38:02 AM

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Question:  "I have one of my Penn 330 GTI's apart on the kitchen table right now. The drag was sticking and upon dissassembly per your post, I found some badly corroded metal and deteriorating fiber washers. I wanted to know what advantage replacing the drag washer under the stack with a fiber washer serves?  I will be ordering a new drag stack and some grease. Thanks again for the posts!"

Answer:  I have found that the drag is a little smoother with a carbon fiber drag washer under the main gear instead of a hard fiber washer.  Regarding the #6-875 drag washer underneath the main gear. it is one of the "3-layer" drag washers that penn makes and is rugged enough to withstand the pressures underneath that main gear.  Penn actually uses two different types of carbon fiber sheets to stamp out their drag washers.  The first is the "single-layer" sheet, which is basically a single woven sheet of carbon fiber material.  It is used to make the drag washers for the long beach 60's, the squidders, the jigmasters and others.  the second type of material is made from a sheet of fiberglass with carbon fiber on either side.  this material is more rigid, thicker and more resistant to the "grinding" effects found underneath the main gears of these reels.  You will find this type of drag washer in the 4/0 Penn Senator 113H.  The #6-875 ht-100 drag washer is a "3-layer" style and works pretty well underneath the main gear.  

The second issue is one of what to do about these corroded penn carbon fiber and metal washers that have suffered from water intrusion.  The obvious answer is to pay your $12-15 and replace them with new, greased, drag washers.  One time, though, i was just helping a kid out at a local shop.  The manager had a few tools and was fine letting me crack open the reel there.  The drags were filled with salt residue and rust.  I cleaned up the drag washers with a little with a wire brush, cleaned up the metal washers with a little sand paper, slapped a thick coat of drag grease on the drag washers, threw it back together and it worked just fine! Mind you, this was just one of the local kids with nothing more than a couple of bucks worth of allowance money in his pocket.  We were all was more than happy to see this reel working again.  And you know, it was pretty damned smooth!

For your reel, perhaps take a few minutes to clean up the parts and then throw it together as is.  You might be pleasantly surprised!

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What's the maximum drag?

I've get 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!
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The Eternal Optimist!

I spent a little time this evening checking out the local weather reports and the sea surface temperatures.  Right now, it's blowing 28 kts with a 12 foot swell and a 6 foot wind wave.  That's what the "point and click" forecast says for the area 60 miles offshore from Monterey.   By the middle of the week, it's supposed to lay down a little.  The reports say winds to 15 kts and seas to 5 feet.  The problem is that the "push" of warm water that held all of those albacore last week has been "pushed" back quite a ways.  It's now 60 nm from the nearest harbor (Monterey) and these northwest winds are not going to help matters.  Still, Thursday is 4 days away.  Alot can happen in 4 days.  And with this El Nino, there is no telling how long the albacore might stay within range.

The latest in the year that I've actually ever fished for albacore was the last big El Nino of 1999.  I took my father out on my old 19 foot Grady White.  It was a flat calm day, December 15th.  That's right, December 15th.  Dad and I took a 220 heading out of Santa Cruz and made a blind stab.  We dropped the lines in when we hit the 25 mile mark at the Monterey weather buoy.  We stuck 8 albacore that day.  The first fish weighed in at 38 pounds.  The second fish weighed in at 42 pounds.  The third fish weighed in at 48 pounds.  The next 5 fish bottomed out my 50 pound scale.  Dad reeled in every fish.  His shoulder was sore for the next three months. 

I'd like all of you to keep your fingers crossed and check back with me later in the week.  With any luck, I'll have an albacore report for you. 
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Question:  Alan, I just bought a Progear CS 625 to pair up with an OTI 7'6" 60-80# Class rod.  I want to be able to cast lures and baits to tuna and have the drag to really put the screws to them.  I'll be using 80# spectra.  The fishing I'm looking to do here in the Gulf of Mexico is throwing topwater lures and free lining live baits to YFT.  Probably a very similar style to how you west coast guys set-up your wahoo bombs.  Anyway, my question is what mods and upgrades do I need to make to get this reel to cast well without backlashing all the time and get the drag system up to par for 60-100# YFT?  Thanks in advance.  BTW - I based alot of my decision on your write up on the Albacore Special on your website.

Answer:  The drag washers should already be greased carbon fiber.  Check them anyway.  The screw holes and all the internal metal surfaces should already have a light coat of grease.  Check this as well.  The bearings are shielded and lubed with corrosion x from the factory.  Here's where you have a decision to make.  If you want the longest casting distance, then remove the shields, clean out any grease or oil, lube the bearings with xtreme reel + and reinstall the bearings open.  You'll get the best distance this way.  It will also backlash like crazy if you flub up your cast.  You can slow down the spool using the end cap screw.  That's not a good thing to do for the long run because you are rubbing metal against metal.  An alternative would be to pack the bearings with grease and reinstall the bearing shields.  Your bearings will last forever, but this will dramatically slow down the spool .  Bearings packed with grease will be fine for casting only the heaviest irons or bombs where distance is not as much a factor. 

Personally, I think your best bet would be to go for the open bearings with a light lube.  Don't apply too much pressure when you chuck that bait out and let you thumb be the brake.  It will take a bit of practice, and you will definitely have to pick out a backlash or two, but I believe that this will give you the best results.  Want to see how it's really done?  Get on any San Diego 5 to 10 day boat and watch the deckhands!  Good luck!  Alan
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Alan's Workbench -  Stay Alive!

Aug. 11 2009, 12:25 PM - In Northern California, we have several fatalities among fishermen every year.  Each time a report comes out in the newpaper, I take a look at it and ask myself, "How could they have come out of this alive?"  In nearly every situation that I've read about, I believe that these guys would have survived if they were wearing a handheld VHF radio and a life jacket.  A local US Coast Guard officer that I know recommends an EPIRB as your first piece of electronic safety equipment, but one crew several years ago perished with a properly functioning GPIRB in the water.  So, as a boat owner, what are you going to do?  

My solution is an inflatable life raft in the cabin, a GPIRB with a hydrostatic release on the hardtop, a handheld GPIRB at the helm, and life jackets for everyone. Each life jacket is equipped with a strobe, a whistle, a cyalume light stick, a 3-pack of handheld flares and a handheld VHF radio that has a built-in GPS.  In a worst case scenario, the boat could suddenly roll over and throw all hands into the water.  The hull is now upside down with no way to reach the life raft or the handheld GPIRB.  To make matters worse, the GPIRB on the hardtop is kicked out it's case and starts happily pinging away, only it is trapped under the hull as well.  Once you enter our 55 degree water, you have a 60 second period of uncontrolled gasping.  Let's hope you're on the surface while this is happening.  Then you have 20 minutes of functional motor activity when you can still push buttons and turn knobs.  You have 30 more minutes until half of your crew is dead (remember the 50/50/50 rule?) and 2 more hours until the rest of you are dead.  

But you are not going to die today.  No one will.  You fire up the radio and call a "mayday."  With the GPS build into your radio, you can give the Coast Guard your exact latitude and longitude.  This turns a search and rescue mission into a straight rescue mission.  It's a HUGE difference.  Even if you don't own a boat, you can still bring your own life jacket when you hitchhike on someone else's boat.  You place your life in the hands of the skipper whenever your go out on the water.  If it's your first time as a guest on a new vessel, you may not find out until you're underway that your skipper is a safety idiot.  Bringing your own properly equipped life jacket is your best insurance.  
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Northern California Albacore, 9/19/09

It was about time!  Guys have been catching albacore here in Northern California since July and I've been tied to the dock!  You know, wife, kids, in-laws, work!  All of the usual excuses that keep you off the water.   Well, my brother wanted to go so I made some phone calls, rounded up a last-minute crew and had everyone ready to hit the road at 3 AM.

When we arrived, the parking lot at the launch ramp in Santa Cruz was empty.  Not a good sign.   We launched the boat and fired up all of the electronics, including the FLIR infrared night vision camera.  Running 20 to 25 knots with infrared night vision, we were able to make the 45 mile run before first light.  We ended up the day with 15 albacore for the 5 of us.  

I was fine all day with 7 hours of sleep the night before.  Too bad I can't say the same for my crew.  I guess the 3 AM departure time really threw people off.  I ended up with as much sleep as my four crew members combined.  My brother and nephew arrived at home home late the night before, had a few too many drinks and only got 2 hours of sleep each.  My neighbor was finishing up paperwork to close an important business deal and also got 2 hours of sleep.  And finally my 20 year old deckhand stayed up to watch TV and got no sleep at all.  The worst part was that my nephew puked on the cushions in the cabin.  Most of the boat is clean this evening.  Tomorrow morning I clean the cushions!  

Sleep is critical.  
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Point Sur, California - Oct. 21 2009, 3:00 PM Point Sur, California

We towed the boat to Monterey on Thursday, launched and took a 25-mile run down the coast to Point Sur.  Our depth was 100 to 120 feet.  Fishing was fast and easy.  We had four stringers of nice fish for the four of us, limits all around. 

The big stringer was probably 70 pounds of beautiful vermillion.  The second stringer was easily 40 pounds.  We also kept the smaller ones because of the 100 foot depth we were fishing.  Basically, the first 40 fish that bit all died!  My thinking is that anything that you hoist up from a 100 foot depth is going to suffer some degree of barotrauma.  I know that this is contrary to conventional thinking.  People say that fish can survive if they are quickly repressurized, but I prefer to keep those fish rather than take others.  Less than 60 feet and I will release them.  Anything more than that and they're a meal. 
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Questions about rebuilding a Penn 14/0 - Nov. 25 2009, 2:20 PM Questions about rebuilding a Penn 14/0

I am in the process of rebuilding a Penn 14/0 and I had a couple of quick questions if you dont mind.

1) Are the 2 gears on the spool itself supposed to have any play in  them? In the reel I just took apart, the toothed gears move a little?  Is this normal or should they be locked in place?

2) The handle had quite a bit of play in it.  I was looking at the gears and they all seem to be in relatively good shape.  What could be causeing this play in the handle?

3) I cannot get the actual reel bearings out from the outer shell. Is there a trick to this or do you just recommend buying complete hole bearings.  If I do this, do you know if they come with the outer shell?

Thanks very much.


Yes, what you are seeing is something called gear lash.  There is typically a lot in these old penn gears.  The result is a fair amount of play when you hold the spool stationarly and move the handle forward and back.

The axial (lateral) play in the handle is typically from the loose gear sleeve.  This is different from gear lash.  To eliminate the play in the gear sleeve, you have to pull the retaining pin, remove the gear sleeve and place washers underneath.  That should take care of the up and down motion of the gear sleeve. 

And finally, the bearing.  When they are badly corroded, the bearings can be impossible to remove from the bearing cups.  If they don't pop out easily, it might just be best to buy new ones.  You can order the bearings from your local shop already installed in the bearing cup. 
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The sport season for Dungeness crab has been in full swing for over a month.  We've been running pots out of Half Moon Bay, approximately 7 miles outside of the harbor, in 200 feet of water.  These crab pots are baited with huge slabs of Humboldt squid pulled from our local waters as well.  With crews of 4 to 5, we've been limiting out on almost every trip. 

To make them easy to serve, I've been cleaning them first, then boiling or steaming them for 10 minutes.  To clean them first, simply cleave them in half, remove the shell and gills, and then rinse out the guts.  After they cool, crack the shells, and serve them up with a green salad, sourdough bread, melted butter and a dry white wine.  Fresh crab can be messy, but the flavor is marvelous!

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The 2010 Fred Hall Show in Long Beach, California.

The annual Fred Hall tackle show will be held again this week in Long Beach, CA, and it's one of the largest in the nation.  Without a doubt, it is the most popular show on the west coast.  I'll be flying down from northern California, just for the day, to attend.  I've got my camera, two camera batteries, a note pad and a whole bunch of questions all ready.  In particular, I will be asking about quality and service issues with fishing reels.  These are issues that i deal with every day, and they have been mounting. 

In the wake of the Toyota scandal, I am curious to see if there is change in focus.  Quality is critical if you want to stay in the lead, or take the lead, in any business.  No one enjoys having to deal with failure, or even talking about it.  It is also much easier to deal with if you act sooner than later.  Just ask Akio Toyoda. 

See you Thursday in Long Beach!
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Trouble Shooting a Daiwa SL 30SH

Question:  I changed the drags on a Daiwa SL30SH (Carbontex), greased the drive shaft bearing and oiled the spool bearings.  Basically did everything and used everything that you said to do in the rebuild post.  I put everything back together and it all works, BUT when I turn the handle and just let it fly I start to hear a low grinding noise as soon as I let go of the handle and it continues to turn.  Seems like if I crank while the reel is tilted I hear that noise something loose or the gear is bad?  I have no left over pieces.

Answer:  There are a couple of possibilities.  If you turn the reel to one side or the other, then spin the spool in free and notice a noise, then you probably have a bad spool bearing on that side.  A quick manual check of the bearings will confirm that.  If the bearings are perfect, then the only other thing that could be making noise is the gear set.  Under a heavy load, the gear teeth become slightly deformed.  it becomes more pronounced when you crank the handle, turn the spool, and then press with your left thumb and place slight pressure on the spool.  If the noise is acceptable, stay with the original gear set.  If it is really bothersome, call the manufacturer and order up a new main and pinion gear.  Remember, you should always replace gears as a set. 
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When do you really need a 2 speed reel?

In the hunt for big fish, most everyone will agree that a two speed reel is essential.  The question will commonly arise, however, at what point do you really need a 2 speed?  Big fish, obviously, but someone will invarialbly chime in, "Hey, I can land one of those without a 2 speed!"  OK, fair enough.  Remember the guy at that cocktail party?  Yeah, him.  The one with the fish tie, now your wife's EX-boss.  Well, that's fine.  Maybe he can land a big fish with a single speed reel because he can bench press 300 pounds.  But fishermen, like fish, come in all shapes and sizes.  Meet my good friend, Ed Watson. 

Ed fishes all over the world.  On one of his last fishing trip, Ed hooked into an 80 pound yellowfin with bad attitude.  You know the type.  These are the young bucks.  The ones that don't know when they're beat.  Ed had a 6:1 high and 3:1 low gear ratio 2 speed reel and kicked it into low gear as soon as he hooked up.  The panga had no rail and his reel had no harness lugs.  Ed was in a "stand up" arm wrestling match the entire time.  Even with a 3:1 low gear ratio, there were times when Ed could not turn the handle.  At Ed's age, pumping that rod for the entire fight was not going to be an option.  So what we need to do is build a special reel just for this man.  We have the technology. 

Let's build a 50 pound two speed for Ed.  First of all, we are going to take advantage of improvements in fishing line technology and make a tiny aluminum spool that will hold 400 yards of 65 pound solid spectra.  We will use an old school 40 turn bimini and and 20 turn albright to connect a 3 foot leader of 50 pound fluorocarbon.  The frame and side plates will be aluminum as well.  Built in harness lugs will be unnecessary for most fishermen, but they will be a lifesaver for Ed .  A large, oversized, offset handle grip will make cranking much more comfortable and greatly reduce the chance of Ed's hands cramping.  Since we're already asking for the moon, why not design a reel that will deliver 24 pound of drag at strike with no side load.  That way we can string up Ed's dream reel with 60 pound fluorocarbon and push the drag to 40% of line weight, should the need ever arise.  Finally, we need to select a gear ratio.  Ed will not be fighting any of his big fish in high gear, so let's just pick a middle-of-the-road gear ratio like 5:1 for the high gear.  That way he won't take all day to retrieve a bait.  All we need now is a low end gear ratio and, for that, we will need Ed's help. 

We're going to hook up Ed to the rod and reel, then we are going tie the line off to a trailer hitch.  With a 50 pound topshot of fluorocarbon, a drag setting of 30 to 40% comes out to a 15 to 20 pounds.  Let's set our dream reel to 18 pounds of drag at stike.  With Ed harnessed in, there is no way that he can crank the handle when the reel is in 5:1 high gear.  Even with a 3:1 low gear ratio, Ed will having difficulty.  Let's drop the gear ratio down to 2:1.  Leaning back into the harness with the line tied off to a trailer hitch, Ed can now crank the handle with relative ease.  When he's hooked up on a fish, he can settle into a harness and crank in line without having to arm wrestle and pump the rod.  A 2:1 low gear ratio is the one for him!

So there you have it.  The ultimate old fart's reel!  A 400 yards 65 pound spectra capacity, a 5:1 high gear ratio, a 2:1 low gear ratio, a massive oversized handle grip, and harness lugs.  But there are many small two speed reels available to choose from and this one might be gear down too low for you.  To decide which one is right for you presonally, choose a drag setting and see if you can crank the reel in low.  If you can't, plan on having to pump the rod or look for a reel with a lower gear ratio. 

Alan Tani - 8/29/2010 
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Question: "My reel is making loud clicking noises during casting.  For some reason, the noise goes away when I flip the reel upside down.  I think the pinion gear is either worn down and/or the bearings are bad.  I'm planning to get new bearings and pinion gear to fix the problem.  My reel doesn't have a model number machined on the housing, but it looks like its a 545 model.  The parts inside are mostly the same as other 5xx models, so it shouldn't make a difference. 

I think the company is no longer in business, but does anybody know where I can buy replacement parts for these reels?  Are they using same parts from other manufacturers that I can swap out?  The inside looks a lot like Shimano reels.  If anybody can help, I appreciate it.  Thanks."

Answer:  Upside down?  I could understand left or right, but upside down?  i wonder if it's the yoke for the pinion gear. 

Regardless, check the two spool bearings and see if they are rough.  If so, measure them out and order up a new set.  The bearings are available from several different suppliers.  If the bearings are OK and the reel had previously worked without this trouble, then that means that something in this reel "changed" in the meantime.  Center the spool for zero load and zero freeplay and see it the noise goes away.  If so, you are done.  If not, loosen the bearing cup up a bit to put some side to side play in the spool.  If the reel clicks and clacks when turned down to the left, it might be the click gear rubbing against the click tongue.  Check the clicker assembly.  The click spring might have "loosened up," allowing the click tonge to bang against the click gear.  this is a common problem in many reels.  If, howver, the reel makes noise when it is dipped down to the right (the handle side), and if this is a new problem, then the pinion gear might be rubbing against the shoulders of the spool shaft.  The eccentric jack might have been bent or worn somehow, not providing enough "lift" to the pinion gear.  It can be "bent" back.  Similarly, there might be damage to the pinion yoke.  That would be unusual because the pinion yoke in these reels is stainless steel. 

It will take some digging, but the answer is in there somewhere.  And spare parts for these reels may still be available, but parts from other manufacturers are not interchangeable with parts from other manufacturer's reels. 
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