How to Set the Drag

Knowing how to set the drag on a fishing reel is the key to keeping your line from breaking.

The drag is simply a pair of friction plates inside of fishing reels. If the fish pulls on the line hard enough, the friction is overcome, and the reel rotates backwards, letting line out, preventing the line from breaking.  You want to set the drag on a fishing reel before your first cast of the day. Adjusting it while fighting a fish can be difficult. Also fishing reels are not designed to be adjusted while fishing, so doing so could cause damage.

Set the Drag on a Spinning Reel: Steps

  1. The easiest way to set the drag on a spinning reel is to first test it by pulling on your line directly above the reel.
  2. Tighten the drag a few clicks to the right, if the line pulls out too easily. If it’s too hard, loosen it one or two to the left.
  3. If you don’t feel you can judge the force accurately, a small spring scale can help, such as the ones used in Boca Grips or other fish handling devices used in catch and release.
  4. It’s better to have your drag too loose, and have to fight a fish a little longer than to have it too tight, and break off a big one

Tip: If you are fishing with braided fishing line rather than monofilament, you’ll want to take a few wraps of line around the handle of your fishing pliers or a pencil instead of using your bare hands to test the drag. Braid will slice right into your fingers if you pull with too much force.

Once you’ve learned how to set the drag on a fishing reel, you’re ready to start casting. Visit here to learn more about how to cast.