How to Set Drag on Your Fishing Reel

We must first understand why the drag is important. In fishing, more fish are lost for two reasons: improper drag setting, and incorrect knot tying. Take your rod and reel and run line thru all the eyes on the rod. Loosen your drag until you can pull the with ease off the spool.

Now start to tighten the drag one click at a time pull line each time. This allows you to see how tight the drag is for that setting. Many people will tell you to set it so the line gives just before it would break. This is not and I repeat not the way you want to set it. Set it so can be pulled off the reel with moderate ease.

You want enough tension so you’ll be able to set the hook. When your reel is spool the line is laid on a side by side in layers. If drag is too tight when you set the hook or a fish hits hard it can pull the line in between the layer of the line below and the line will not give.

salmon catch drag

If there’s a flaw, scraps, etc. it will break, hence loss of fish. If it is a large fish that fist pull or jerk can break the line when the line is pulled into the layer below. You will have to find what works for you. It will change from one fish to another.

Big freshwater fish like Striper, Northern, Largemouth, Smallmouth will need to be set tighter. Once you learn how to set the drag for the type of fish you are fishing for you can play the fish if the drag is set. You’ll you will start to enjoy fishing even more this way. Makes it more of a contest.

Remember as the fish pulls out your line against your drag he tires, and you can reel him in as he does so. Makes it more of a contest. With global warming and overfishing all putting pressure on our natural resources, please practice catch and release. Remember the fish you release today will be the monster you catch tomorrow.

Andrew Lang

I inherited my passion for fishing from my late father. I often write about my experiences with trout fishing, inshore fishing and deep sea fishing.