Knowing how to set drag is a critical skill, not just for new anglers but for fishermen of all levels. This is because anglers must set the drag on spinning reel outfits so that their lines do not break under the weight and pull of fish on the hook. Learning with a spin casting reel is the ideal starting point. Set your drag well, and the fish will be much easier to catch.

Furthermore, the best fishermen rely on the power of the set drag rather than strength or brute force to subdue a fish, as the former is more effective in exhausting the hooked fish before a smooth reel-in. The process of setting the drag includes sensitive adjustments of the fishing reel drag scale as well as the fishing reel drag mechanism. For a helpful tutorial on using the drag setting dial found on all fishing reels, refer to the sections provided below.

How do beginners learn to set the drag without causing the line to snap?

Learning how to set the drag on spinning reel rods is most highly recommended for beginners, though all fishing reels have some kind of drag system. Setting your drag properly increases the chances of successfully catching a fish, because it gives you an advantageous mechanical position with your fishing rod and reel. Some important factors to consider when determining drag are:

  • Reel type.
  • Line material.
  • Tension.
  • Size of fish.
  • Fishing experience level.

Those new to fishing learn how to set drag by studying the fishing reel drag mechanism and experimenting with different kinds of lines. New anglers avoid snapping their lines by maintaining a medium drag setting, and never tightening the drag while attempting to reel in a fish.

What is the fishing reel drag scale and how is it used?

Fishing reel drag scales control the amount of tension applied to the line extending from the spool. A fisherman sets the drag on a spinning reel by rolling the dial built into the reel using his or her thumb while grasping the rod handle. Turning the dial of the reel drag scale towards the “+” sign labeled on the equipment increases the tension of the line, while turning the dial towards the “-” sign decreases the tension. An angler practices setting the drag on his or her spinning reel by playing with the drag scale until he or she develops a natural feel for the right tension. This is achieved over time through consistent, focused practice.

For more assistance on starting out as a new fisherman, download our beginner’s guide to fishing here.

What is the fishing reel drag mechanism and how does it work?

The fishing reel drag mechanism is an internal system that generally consists of a pin that applies pressure to the line spooled within the reel. The concept of setting the drag on a spinning reel was designed to tire fish by using the energy they spend during a fight against them. Different fishing reels, from spin casting to fly casting, have unique setups, but the standard functionality remains the same throughout. The reel drag mechanism creates the well-known clicking sound of the reel when a fish is pulled in after a set hook.

The fishing reel drag mechanisms in spin casting equipment are connected to a pin inside the reel that works by moving a thumb dial on the exterior of the cover. With spinning reels, the dial is in a different location where it is adjusted similarly but with clockwise and counter-clockwise turning instead of the thumb method. An added challenge of setting the drag on spinning reel lines is knowing not to reel when a drag is letting a fish run.

What are some tips on how to set drag while out on a fishing trip?

A fisherman must know how to properly set the drag on a spinning reel outfit in order to have a good chance of catching a fish. For additional help on setting drag, review the following tips:

  • Set your drag tightly enough to control the fish but not too tightly, as the line will run the risk of breaking. Conversely, a loose drag will allow a fish to run freely, even after a clean strike.
  • Test the fishing reel drag function by pulling the line away from the reel. If the line snaps, it is too tight. If it comes out with little to no resistance, it is too loose.
  • Attach a weight to the end of your line in order to feel out its level of tension. This can be done by carefully picking up the weight with the rod to avoid breaking the line.

After enough practice, setting the drag will become second nature. Repetition of successful fishing reel drag scale use will lead to greater mastery, and in most cases, you do not have to change your initial setting unless a much larger fish has struck the fishing hook. Above all, properly set drag is a powerful tool to catch fish well beyond the grade of your line, regardless of your skill level.