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Just curious, what is your guys' preference for drag when bass fishing?

 

I keep mine almost as tight as possible, but have been reading recently that's not the way to go.

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Depends on what I'm using. Light line I will keep it set about 75% breaking strength of line. However, on my baitcaster I have 50lb braid and keep the drag around 10 lbs, just because I think keeping it too tight is asking for a bad knot to break, rod to snap, or the line to break at some undetected knick or fray. And either way, if i catch a 10+ lb fish that will be a few pounds away from the state record, so we all know that isn't happening. I'm not too worried about a fish pulling 10 lbs worth of drag, it is mainly so I don't go overboard on a snag and snap my rod (again haha).

 

Brian

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IMO, drag isn't that important for bass fishing... I keep all my drags fairly tight. If my line has a treble hook tied on, I set it so i can barely pull line out, the proper rod and handling will do the rest for you. Anything else, I keep it so the line won't move.

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Modern bass reels have excellent drags, use them!

I set my drags with a scale at 1/3rd the line strength up to 6 lbs of drag maximum. If for any reason I need more drag, my educated thumb applies the pressure need for that moment.

Tom

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I set my drag to whatever I feel like, generally fairly light unless I have to winch fish out of heavy cover.  Right now I'm mostly fishing lighter setups so I've got my drags set fairly light.  I use my thumb like WRB if I need more pressure.

 

This works best if you've got a very smooth drag.  One that shudders or sticks at the wrong time is worse than a locked drag or a smooth drag set lightly.  All of my baitcasters have carbontex drags lubricated with Cal's drag grease, and they will not stick or shudder.

 

Having your drag locked down all the time isn't really good for your reel.  Washer compression isn't so much of an issue with newer drag materials; the problem is that a locked-down drag puts all the stress on the gear teeth and on the AR bearing.  You're more likely to have problems down the road if you don't let your drag do its job.

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2 schools of thought, 1 is a tight drag with heavy braid and drag them in.  The other is to set your drag just enough to get a good hookset, slight increase or decrease in the drag is pretty easy once the fish is on. I have no idea what my drag setting is, it's all feel but I would think it's no more than about 3# or so for bass as I'm using 15# braided line. 

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Unless you are fishing heavy cover or structure, let the fish run! Where's it going to go? Usually deeper water because it feels safer. As long as you have a good hook set it doesn't matter. I run braid on 90% of my gear, and I know for a fact that when a big largie or smallie gets air born and starts shaking it's head like a violent maniac, you are in trouble! A big fish is gonna go where it wants to, and if that drag is buttoned down the hooks will rip right out of it's face. I've seen it to many times as my heart went into my throat. I keep my rod tip up and let the drag do it's work, always keeping tension on the line. I'm always watching my for my line to rise so I know when that fish is about to break the surface. This is the only time my rod tips drops, then back up, pressure on the fish, let the drag do it's job. I've tried it both ways, and landed way more fish utilizing my drag. Think about it like this. So you got the fish turned toward you coming your direction. When that fish gets close enough to the boat/bank and sees you, what happens? It makes a very sharp, quick turn and runs away. If that drag is to tight, when it turns and takes of - well, bye bye. It's also impossible to know for certain if you got a solid hook set, and if the hooks are buried or just skin hooked. I'd much rather take my chances playing and easing the fish my way using my drag than trying to drag it in. I'm pretty sure any salmon or steelhead angler will share these same thoughts. 

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On most lures I have the drag almost as tight as it will go, this is so I can get a good hookset. If need be it only takes a fraction of a second to spin the star and get more drag. 

 

For anything with a treble hook I have it set so if I pull line from the reel it will pull drag but not easily. I can then, again, adjust on the fly if I need to. Usually I thumb the spool if I need to set the hook. 

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Unless you are fishing heavy cover or structure, let the fish run! Where's it going to go? Usually deeper water because it feels safer. As long as you have a good hook set it doesn't matter. I run braid on 90% of my gear, and I know for a fact that when a big largie or smallie gets air born and starts shaking it's head like a violent maniac, you are in trouble! A big fish is gonna go where it wants to, and if that drag is buttoned down the hooks will rip right out of it's face. I've seen it to many times as my heart went into my throat. I keep my rod tip up and let the drag do it's work, always keeping tension on the line. I'm always watching my for my line to rise so I know when that fish is about to break the surface. This is the only time my rod tips drops, then back up, pressure on the fish, let the drag do it's job. I've tried it both ways, and landed way more fish utilizing my drag. Think about it like this. So you got the fish turned toward you coming your direction. When that fish gets close enough to the boat/bank and sees you, what happens? It makes a very sharp, quick turn and runs away. If that drag is to tight, when it turns and takes of - well, bye bye. It's also impossible to know for certain if you got a solid hook set, and if the hooks are buried or just skin hooked. I'd much rather take my chances playing and easing the fish my way using my drag than trying to drag it in. I'm pretty sure any salmon or steelhead angler will share these same thoughts. 

 

Great post!!  Let the fish wear himself out.  I hate the feeling of fighting a fish and then feeling that hook tear out of it's mouth.  Heartbreaking.  I have much more success when I use the drag to the fullest.  Only time I don't is if it is in a heavy cover situation, then it is rip and get him in the boat. 

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On an average sized fish I want my drag to slip very slightly with the hook-set. Very little to no slippage while playing the fish... large fish on light line spinning gear I back reel.

oe

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I just don't see the purpose of a light drag. I'd rather get the hookset I want and adjust on the go. If I absolutely need to let line out of my spinning reel, I'll grab it and pull myself. If I absolutely need to let line out of my baitcaster, I will engage the reel and let my thumb do the work. I'm not saying I crank it all the way down, but I set it so the line barely moves, if it does at all.

 

When I store my rods at the end of the day, I loosen them all up.

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I was fishing a topwater earlier this morning and I lost the first 3 fish. They would hit it, I'd stick them and then half way back they would dive down and I would lose them. Finally I loosened the drag and landed 3 fish in a row. I thumbed the spool on the hookset and then let the fish pull drag when they dove. It helped a ton. Even with a 7' M Mod rod and 17lb stretchy mono I was still pulling hooks with the drag tightened down. 

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You pay for the drag system as part of the reel, so why not let it do its job? Disengaging the clutch with the drag locked down and fish pulling can damage the pinion. IMO, lip ripping violent hook-sets, swinging fish into the boat and general man-handling of the fish is over kill and disrespectful to the creature that gives us our sport.

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You pay for the drag system as part of the reel, so why not let it do its job? Disengaging the clutch with the drag locked down and fish pulling can damage the pinion. IMO, lip ripping violent hook-sets, swinging fish into the boat and general man-handling of the fish is over kill and disrespectful to the creature that gives us our sport.

X2,,,,, locked down drags, horse'n em in and lift'n fish in the boat, not only ruins reels and rods, it cost more fish than it catches, and usually rip's hooks loose. I think "most", use more drag than there rod is rated for, and on a lighter drag you have the option of pointing the tip at em to keep from rip'n hooks loose, or lifting back and putting more backbone into the fish and adding drag just by using the rod the way it was intended to be used.

 

Most times I've experienced that fish big enough to have to stop, don't head for deep water, but quite the contrary, most of the ones I have hooked head for the heaviest cover around. I agree with DVT that drag was designed to "work for you"!  ,,,,let it!   :thumbsup1:

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I measure my drag with weights occasionally just for fun. If you do this you will

develop a very good "feel" for your drag setting. Other than braid, the drag

should be set at 25% - 30% of the breaking strength of the line as long as that

is within the parameters of the rod. On a practical basis, mine is 2-3 lbs. and

never exceeds 4.

 

If you fish for trophy smallmouth on spinning tackle and light line, you will learn

quite quickly why the drag is so important. The real fight begins when that big

brown girl gets her first glimpse of the boat...and she's gone! The fat fish in my

avatar took 50 yards, not feet, of line to the middle of the Tennessee River against

drag on her first run. 

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Modern bass reels have excellent drags, use them!

I set my drags with a scale at 1/3rd the line strength up to 6 lbs of drag maximum. If for any reason I need more drag, my educated thumb applies the pressure need for that moment.

Tom

can you explain how you do this with a scale?

load the rod or straight line pull?

 

I tried this winter with my scale and gave up cause it didn't feel right the way I was doing it.

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Off the reel. No rod. Tie a loop in the end and hook it to your scale

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I've said this before, but it bears repeating. You think you need 20 pounds of drag to get a bass in the boat? Here's a little experiment you can perform, which should prove otherwise.

Place a 20lb dumbell on the floor. Get out your flipstick, loaded with braid, and tie the braid straight to the dumbell. stand back so the rod tip is directly above the dumbell. Reel down so you have the rod parallel with the floor, and the line tight to the dumbell. With one hand on the crank and one hand holding the rod/reel in your normal fashion, lift the dumbell off the floor. One of two things will happen.

One; you will discover you can't pick the weight up. Most people can't generate enough power with one arm. Do the math. Let's say it's 18" from elbow to palm, and 6 1/2' from there to the end of the rod. That would be 160ft/lbs of torque required to lift that weight. Again, most people can't do that.

For case two, switch to a more powerful attack. Put the butt end of the rod under you belt buckle and put both hands on the rod, above the reel seet so you can get a nice, secure grip. If you're going to try this, I suggest taking it outside. That way when your rod snaps, you won't poke a hole in the ceiling.

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can you explain how you do this with a scale?

load the rod or straight line pull?

I tried this winter with my scale and gave up cause it didn't feel right the way I was doing it.

Set the drag with the reel mounted on the rod you use: run the line through all the guides and tie a simple over hand loop on the line end. It takes 2 people to do this; hook the loop intro your fish scale, stand back about 10 feet,l hold the rod up about 2 o'clock and reel down until the drag slips or you reach 1/3 the line strength, do not exceed 4 lbs tension. With the load applied adjust the drag until the drag just starts to slip while your partner is telling you what the pound force is. Most medium/heavy to heavy bass rods are fully loaded at 3 to 4 lbs of tension. 6 pounds of force will over load a heavy action rod, unless it's made for lures that exceed 1 1/4 oz rating; flipping rods and swimbait rods. Most fresh water reels will not hold more than 8 pounds of drag load without causing severe damage to the reel.

As mentioned you pay $$$ for state of the art drags.....use it.

Tom

PS; be aware that using dead weights and lift upright can overload most rods because you lift the weight with the rod. Don't exceed 3 lbs for most fresh water rods if you do this.

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Tom-

thanks, that's basically how I was doing it and I really wondered why my 5 power rod was bowed over with 4# on the scale. I was using 15# test so I was trying to get 7# of drag and kept thinking to myself  "7# of drag will break this rod!"

so thanks for clarifying.

 

my next question is..... what do you do when the drag slips on hooksets? I set the hook pretty durn hard on a jig.

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Brian, what you do when the drag slips on the hookset is say thank you, drag, for protecting my nice, new, expensive rod. If your drag is set correctly, as Tom indicated, it willslip on a geronimo hookset. It doesn't take much to set a hook. If your drag is set at 3 pounds, all three pounds of force are concentrated at one tiny, sharp hook point. It will penetrate.

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I've always set my drags the way WRB describes. It takes two people to do it right. I got this tip from an older, experienced angler last year, and tried it this year.

Set the drag without a rod; just reel, a full spool of line, and your scale. You can do this by yourself. I use 25% of rated line strength. Two pounds for #8, three pound for #12, etc.

When the reel is mpounted to the rod, and is fish is on the end of the line, you can control drag pressure with rod position. With the rod pointed right at the fish, you're at minimum drag. As you raise the rod tip, you're adding applied drag force due to friction with the guides. The more the rod bends, more guides come into play, applying more friction to the line, increasing the applied pull against the fish. Simple idea, one I should have thought about a long time ago.

Here's another factor to consider. Your drag gets weaker as more line is let out. It's strongest when the spool is full, and weakest when the spool is nearly empty. The other way to look at this is; when you're fighting a big fish drag force increases as the fish gets closer to the boat.

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Brian, what you do when the drag slips on the hookset is say thank you, drag, for protecting my nice, new, expensive rod. If your drag is set correctly, as Tom indicated, it willslip on a geronimo hookset. It doesn't take much to set a hook. If your drag is set at 3 pounds, all three pounds of force are concentrated at one tiny, sharp hook point. It will penetrate.

 

thanks ghoti I tomahawk a jig hookset.......its a habit I am trying to break.

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A bass reel does not produce 20# of drag, nor will most bass pull 20#.  If one cares to set the drag with a scale and know the exact poundage it's at, so be it.  I set by feel and probably almost every recreational fisherman I know does the same thing.  I do know guys that do set them by scale but they fish for tuna, swordfish, marlin and the like.  If one is of the ilk to use 50# braid and drag them at warp speed may as well just lock the drag down all the way, no bass is going to break the line, just matter of pulling it out of the weeds.  I could personally never fish that way, my drag is set just enough to get a good hookset, if needed applying a bit more drag manually or with your thumb or palming a spinning spool is pretty easy to do.  Ghoti makes a good point about drag and rod angle.

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I used to set mine with a digital scale.  After a while I got used to how the drag felt. Now I can just tell when the drag is about right.

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