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Discussion Starter #1
I've spent most of the summer teaching myself how to cast (my luck this year has turned my steelheading into casting practice)...But my luck is bound to change now that I'm casting and controlling my line better...

Sunday on the Deschutes I finally hooked into a decent fish...but I had my drag too light to keep it from it's dash into the rocks...I nearly lost my line!...

My question is...how much drag do you pros use for steelhead?...Obviously I had it too light...but do I dare crank it down?

Many thanks...Any help will be greatly appreciated!
 
J

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I set my drag to about a quarter of the breaking strength of my tippet. In other words, if I'm fishing a 12lb tippet I try to estimate what three pounds of direct pull would be and set it there. And I pretty much leave it alone after that unless it's obvious I estimated wrong. In my opinion, if you buy a reel with a good drag it's silly not to use it for what it's intended. The common practice of setting only as much drag as is needed to prevent overrun of the spool and no more essentially means you paid good money for a drag you aren't willing to trust. I use rim control only when I have to stop or turn a fish. I've found that my method works for everything from trout to billfish. You do need to practice pulling line from a reel attached to a good scale to get a feel for what one pound, two pounds, or even five pounds of drag feels like. You'll be amazed at how much drag five pounds really is. Trust me, you'll get a bunch of posts that disagree with me!
 

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Good news JR, the first follow up post agrees ..

with you. On one handed fly rods/drift rods I'll put my drag at about 50% of tippet strenght. With Spey rods, far less; all that line going through all those guides adds a lot of drag.

Had a demo several years ago on how strong 10# mono really was. 30 foot of line out of drift rod tip (drag was set tight for the demo) and only one guy in the room could break the line by jerking on same.

Mono's pretty stong stuff!
fae
 

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Can not really speak for steelhead..but I start out by setting my drag and then adjusting it... by that I mean... my initial drag set is determined by wetting my lips and putting the line between them and pulling until I can move the drag with the wet lips. That would be the minimum for any situation until the size and speed of a fish is determined ..I will palm the reel to make the determination as to when to increase or decrease..just my opinion.
 

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I set my drag just enough to prevent an over run. Any additional pressure is applied by palming the spool. One of the advantages of this is that when you have alot of line out after a big run the size of the spool is effectively reduced and the effect of the drag is increased (this is less of an issue with large arbour reels).

As far as the usefulness or necessity of high-tech drags for steelhead I am of the opinion that they are overkill. If you have ever pulled the line off an old Hardy Salmon you would know that the click pawl is more than ample. So why the high-tech stuff? I think it has to do with our desire for finely made reels. As cool as the Hardys are, they are definitely "old technology", the tolerances are sloppy as well as being cast aluminum rather than machined. The big time saltwater reels that constitute our "standard" steelhead reels are built for beasties like tarpon and marlin - where serious drag systems are an absolute necessity. As much as we love our steelhead - they do not pull like those saltwater monsters.

If I were to design a high quality machined reel specifically for steelhead it would not include the high-tech drag - instead a modernized version of the good old click and pawl.
 

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Washington steelhead guide, Dennis Dixon, is convinced, at least on winter-run fish, that the rod tip should be pointed at the fly and the drag set tight enough to set the hook without the hand touching the line. This method works well with any deep sunk fly. The take detection rate goes way up. I used to do something similar years ago, by way of practice, on the Vedder during the chum run.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I must have been mislead...I was told that the reel is the LEAST important component in your spey rod set-up...being the reel junky that I am, I still bought a reel with a beefy drag that holds about 400 yards of 20lb. dacron...But I never thought too much about how to set it for fighting big fish...

I agree with Kush...why have the drag if you're not going to let it work for you...that is certainly my feeling on one-handed rods...

Striblue...I had a girlfriend in college that used that method...I wonder what ever happened to her?

Fred & JR - 1/2 to 1/3 of the lb. test sounds good...I'll have to play with the reel to get a feel for just how much that really is...how do you actually measure it?...do you use one of those handy dandy little fish scales you can buy at Fred Meyer's or GI Joe's?...

thank you for the invaluable advice...
 

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drag

i too fished the deschutes last weekend. i used a Hardy St. John. just a click . that is all i need. i used a flats glove with2/3rds lenght on the first two fingers. i like that when i am doing all that stripping you long line guys complain about{eventhough i was using a long delta this time] and i use my first two fingers when i want to clamp down on the fish when i want to horse them in at the end.alsowhen i want to set the hook[although i let them take a loop on the deschutes]. it is the best of all worlds;a variable drag system run by my brain with no lags in time.i have been using my fingers for my drag for years. nothing is better!!!
Beau
 

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"GD," an overly simple way is to take a plastic grocery bag and

fill it with some cans. Weight the thing on the bathroom scale. When you get to about where you want to be (size of fish expected ... I set mine for 6-7#) just tie the leader (or end of the line) to the bag handles and away you go.

Known amount of weight, known amount of drag set, etc. :hehe:
Another easy way is to use a quart milk container: pints a pound the world 'round; 2 pints in a quart (2#'s) or 4 in a half gallon which would come in at 4 pounds.
fae
 

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And At the Fish?

If you put five pounds at the reel, what will you have at the fish after passing through the guides. I suspect it will be much higher at the fish and could even put the leader at risk. I will try to find a scale and try it out.
 

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I agree with Kush, we are fishing for large trout. A spring/pawl reel is all the drag that is needed, but using a quality drag at higher settings is not a detriment either.

As for designing a reel with a spring/pawl check, there are too many limitations in the design. From an engineering standpoint, it is a doomed design from the start- metal fatigue will get the better of it and there is no way around this. If you have any old perfects kicking around, look at the ratchet gear and see how the the teeth have rounded to the outgoing direction creating less resistance because the pawl does not move as far to energize the spring. 5 thousands does mean a lot.

For my .02, I base my drag on the hook I am using. If I am using a heavy wired iron (Alec Jackson 1.5's and the like) that will not straighten out under HEAVY pressure, a strong setting (1 to 1.5#'s at the backing knot) is probably a better idea to help bury the iron.

Things get tricky when using the light wire hooks. A heavy drag will bend them and help in long/short line releases. For these hooks I set my drag at "click pawl" and lightly palm the extra. The needle sharp hooks will find a hold and will be less likely to bend. If you have a spirited steelhead that is dragging around all of your XLT plus 20 or 30 yards of backing, I am not sure that there is anything you will be able to do.

Five pounds of drag at the backing knot (not the arbor knot, but the backing/flyline connection) is a lot of drag. A Bogdan 150 with 125 yards of 20# dacron with the lever put to full drag is just under 3#'s. I set all of my reels to about 1.5x's "click pawl" tension (approx. 8 to 10 ounces) at the backing knot unless I am fishing a strong hook. There is no need to purchase a scale for setting drag tension. Just use Fred's plastic grocery sacks and fill them with your favorite cans of beer to get 12 ounce increments.

One last thought, horse-collaring a fresh 32" hen fish with 12# tippet and a strong hook with 2#'s of drag is quite a violent affair. It's a kick in the pants and sometimes gets the fish to go even more crazy.

William
 

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Ah, a lack of clarity on my part.

You 'lift' the weight with the line through the guides. Scale or no, your looking for a true weight to lift line, bend rod, etc., against. If you don't have a scale (and how accurate is it?) lifting a known weight like this will give you the same results.

The down side on this though, as mentioned on someone elses post, is the amount of line out/left on the spool will effectively change the amount of apparent drag. Another good reason to set it 'light.'
:>)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm glad I asked, but now I'm a little confused...should I set the drag for the backing or for the leader...there is certainly a compelling reason for setting it for the backing...so once I think that I have it calculated, wind up the line onto the reel and pull on it to get a feel for just how that setting feels in my left hand, right?

Actually, I have a scale in the kitchen that's very accurate, and I can set the drag using some weight in a bag...great ideas!!!...thank you everyone...

There is always something new to learn about this whole spey thing...It's been like playing golf right handed for 30 years and then having to suddenly relearn the game left handed....

P.S. - I caught myself doing something weird the other day...I was fishing my 6-weight the other night, and caught myself moving my left hand to meet my one-handed rod...had to remind myself that the big rod was back at camp...thanks again for the help!
 

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What to set drag to ... :>)

Set the drag to protect your leader, not your line/backing. You want 15 cents of mono to "go" rather thana $75 dollar fly line.:hehe:

Actually, (if memory serves here ... correct me guys/gals) most fly lines are set for about 20ísh pounds of breaking strength. Bigger lines may be more, but never 'tested that theory.' Another reason I've never figured out why 30# backing if the line will shear at a lower number.

fae
 

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Like JR and Fred, I set it about 1/3rd of the breaking strength of the tippet and leave it alone. I will palm the reel if need be, but be careful doing this with a good drag system.

Regarding click pawl drags. I have a very good friend who used to use Hardy's exclusively. He salid he liked the way the reel "sang". I used to know if he was already on the river as I was walking to the run because I could hear the very loud, uh, "song" of his Hardy. Fine for chasing away small children or ruining one's hearing perhaps.

Interestingly, since I got him a disk drag reel some 7 years ago, he very seldom uses the Hardy's with the click pawl drag. He says things like the disk drag seems somehow less intrusive and more pleasant.

Although it is very true that you don't need a drag that will stop a tarpon or billfish for steelhead, pawls do wear out and the are luder than all get out. I for one do not miss them.
 

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Drag Setting

GraciesDad, I tend to agree w/Kush and Beau Purvis. A fancy real is a pleasant luxury, and even a nice convenience, but it's not a necessity. Late last month I landed a 36-37# King on a six weight single hander with an old Scientific Anglers reel that had a blown out drag. Considerable good fortune was obviously involved but never the less the entire fight was a matter of palming.

As to all this pound measurement to set your drag, it hardly sounds like a simple process so why not try setting it using Lefty Kreh's method?

Hold the rod up close to your head, put some line between your lips (not teeth), and move your head away from the reel, when you can no longer take line off the reel from your "lip grip" your drag is properly set. With this setting you won't get over runs, you won't break tippets, and you can add a bit of palming if you need a bit more pressure.

It works well; give it a go. JohnnyB
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks guys...I really appreciate the help!
 

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Lefty Kreh Says

Lefty's book on SALTWATER FLYFISHING, recommends one pound or less, so if you attach a one pound weight to the leader on the rod, it should just start to slip when you lift the weight with the rod. Lefty suggests that skilled anglers use their hands for additional resistance and need less drag.
 

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Yes... It was Lefty who had showed me the lip method this year at his casting clinic on the Cape, although I was familiar with it in another context.
 

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:>) Now Stub. we all know that this method

only started (licking the salt off the line) because someone was doing 'shooters,' remembered the Lime ... but not the salt.:devil:
 
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