Barbs and Backlashes

What a drag! by whitetips
May 27, 2010, 10:13 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

I have used this photo recently to make a point about fish handling; am going to use it again here to make another point.  This time instead of looking at the big McConaughy white bass, take a close look at the reel.  See that “switch” on the left side?  Yes, the anti-reverse switch.  I use that switch a lot; in fact while fishing my spinning reels almost always have the anti-reverse OFF!  I NEVER rely on the drag on my spinning reels while playing fish.  Now keep in mind this is my preference, this is the way I like to do things, but let me tell you why I fish this way.

First of all, I have a distrust for mechanical gadgets on my fishing reels.  The more “bells and whistles” there are, the more things there are that could fail or break at the worst time.  I realize that a quality reel has an excellent drag system, but how many sad stories have you heard about big fish that got away because “the drag was not set right”?  If your preference is to use the drag on your spinning reels, then fine, good for you, but you better make sure to set the drag tension correctly and re-check it often.  Unfortunately you will find out that your drag tension was not set properly at exactly the wrong time.

If you pick up one of my spinning reels and check the drag tension, you will find the drag screwed down as tight as it can go (i.e. maximum tension).  When I set the hook on a fish, I do not want that drag to slip one fraction of an inch.  Yes, I know it is possible to break light lines with hard hook sets, but I would rather rely on the flexibility of my rod and the appropriate power of my hook set rather than have the drag slip.  In most cases I am not fishing with line that is that light anyway.

When I am playing a big fish, I have the anti-reverse switch on my spinning reels OFF, and I control how much line the fish takes by back-reeling.  Again I prefer this because I am in total control of the fish, in control of the fight, instead of relying on the mechanics of my reel’s drag.  If I hook a big fish in a tight spot where it could wrap my line around a snag, I can put the pressure on and get them out of that spot.  If I get a glimpse of a fish I am playing and discover that it is lightly-hooked, I can be very careful with it and give it all the line it needs.

I have specified spinning reels so far because you have to rely on the drag on casting reels.  Casting reels have a star drag alongside the reel handle that can be quickly adjusted even as a fish is being played.  I try to set the drag on my casting reels relatively light, so the drag slips with far less tension than would cause the line to break.  With the drag set like that on my casting reels I can apply my thumb to the spool during a hook set again to keep the drag from slipping.  Likewise as a fish is played I can fine-tune how much line slips off by applying thumb pressure to the spool, or I can make adjustments with the star drag.

Now I know there are some that are thinking I am full of it because if I hooked a bonefish or permit or roosterfish or some other marine species known for drag-burning runs, I could not back-reel fast enough.  I guess if I ever fish for those species I will find out, but I can tell you that I have caught wipers well into the double-digits and have back-reeled like a monkey while playing those fish.  Worked for me then.  I landed a 55-pound flathead on 14-pound test line and spinning equipment last fall and it worked fine then too.  Your preference may be to rely on your spinning reel’s drag, but for now I will keep a’ back-reeling.

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Interesting, Daryl – I always use the drag and have really never played with backreeling. I may have to give it a shot.

Love that wet cloth on the ground with the big white bass. Man, look at the gut on that bruiser!

Comment by Teeg Stouffer

I’m waiting for Recycled Fish or our NGPC Store to come up with an appropriate “mat” for fishers!

Support the “cause”, save a fish. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Hekk, I might even buy one for my fishing partners!

Harold F.

Comment by Harold F

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