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chrome-magnon man
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a recent post on the "general" board has me wondering: what is the preference out there for drag systems when it comes to steelhead, salmon and sea trout? I recall reading an article on Dennis Dickson's site a few years back in which Dennis was advocating high end drag systems with the line straight to the reel, the drag set high enough to "barb" the fish on the take. This makes sense to me, but I still tend to carry a loop of line and if using a reel with a drag set it just enough to avoid spool overrun.

What are your thoughts--are drags important for the king and princes of fishes?
 

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My 2 cents worth of observations.

On shorter rods (single handers or drift rods) I'll set the drag at about 1/2 the tippet strenght. With longer rods (two handers) I'll run much lighter than this as all the guides the line is running through create a lot of friction ... adding to the drag setting by default.

Agree with Dana that, while I tend to keep my 2 hander rod tips low and pointing down line, I'll also use a short loop to protect at time of a hook up. With the line looped between the middle three fingers I'll usually feel the line tighten up before I feel anything fishie on the end of the line.

I'll release the 6'ish inch loop and come sideways on the rod to set the hook. (I think) dropping the loop helps slide the hook towards the corner of the jaw. Water pressure on the line and the sideways 'tug' is usually all it takes to assure a hookup.
fe
 

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Hmmm. . .

Interesting topic.

If you're asking do you need a drag to fight a steelhead effectively, i'd say no. It does make it easier, but with exposed rims and such you can add pressure as necessary during the fight.

That being said, I believe a good drag certainly makes the hooking process easier. To be clear - I fish mostly reels w/o drags on my spey rods and carry the infamous 6" loop of line to feed to the fish before the strike as well.

Unfortunately, there are two "other" things that can happen on the strike. Either the pressure is too light on the 6" loop of line and the fish takes, pulls the loop and a bit of line off the reel and is gone without sufficient drag-aided tension to set the hook -or- fish takes and I unconsciously tighten up on the line against the cork and POW!!

This second one has happened a couple times on summer runs with lighter tippets and is always accompanied by a loud expletive-laden serenade! :razz:

I probably won't give up my Hardys - I'm too addicted to the sound. But I do agree with Dennis that a good disk drag reel will improve most angler's hooking percentage. After mind-numbing hours of casting, I know I'm not always ready with the appropriate split-second response.

my .02,

DS
 

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Light drag and a loop of line always in my hand during the drift for all trout and salmon species.

I may tighten the drag a little after the first run, depends on the fish and situation (water speed, structure, etc..).

for king salmon I will usually always tighten the drag down but for steelhead rarely since I am usually using 4 or 6 lb tippets. The line cutting through the water adds more drag than we think on them even at the low drag settings.

Plus I think the heavier drag setting just gets them madder and more violent in their pursuit to escape the hook.

My .02 cents
 

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I prefer a spring and pawl click with extra finger pressure as opposed to an actual drag. IMHO a drag system adds unnecessary weight, expense, and another thing to constantly adjust, maintain or fail on a reel. Probably because I grew up gear-fishing steelhead on single action, click drag Silexs and direct drive Pfleuger bait-casters. If someone learned to gear fish with an Ambassadeur with a star drag, they'll probably prefer a fly reel with a drag. The only advantage to a drag system I've found is that you can just put the rod over your shoulder when facing a dicey wade back to shore after hooking a fish, leaving a hand free for your wading staff.

Poul
 

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drag[no thanks]

I too grew up gear fishing for seelhead with baby pfeugers and later , j.a.coxe midget reels with no drag, just thumb.I mootched for salmon in puget sound with direct drive also. Recently , last 2yrs, i switched to a hardy buegle with traditional hardy click. i used to think i liked silent reels. no more!!! i like that third sense to be activated. the click is all the tension i need. i wear a flats type glove in warm weather or a finger condom, or fleece when it is cold and i just apply a little extra pressure against the cork when necessary.i never seem to need to worry about a drag setting or if it changes, or if it is wet or dry or lubed.i just toss it in my bag and then screw it on my rod and start to fish.
beau
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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Having used a good disc drag all along, I am just very accustomed to the freedom of having the fish getting it's exercise while I stumble over rocks, fiddle with an errant line loop on my legs, reach for a camera, etc. Of course it's low enough that I need to supplement the pressure with the winding palm, but the line will not feed freely or overrun if I do not.

Good points made about hook setting, sometimes I just come up with the thick part of the rod and the fish starts it's first run directly against the drag before I bring my hand up to the rim of the spool.

I've also mooched for king salmon using direct drive from Swiftshure Bank to Sekiu and I love the one-to-one, hands on feel but I wonder if the sudden explosion of a summer run on a surface fly down in the swing would be more than my hands could recoup? When mooching, I learned to keep a constant motion on the cutplug or else risk a dogfish, unlike steelhead which come suddenly over countless hours of near-meditative fishing.

Guess I don't have enough experience without a good smooth tight drag to say, gives me something new I need to experience about Spey fishing. Recently I've had an interest in click-pawl reels like the classic Hardy but haven't made the investment yet. I guess I need a new reel. :devil:
 

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I agree that hi-tech drags are not necessary for steelhead, as long as you can palm the rim you are in business. Having said that, my two primary reels, a Loop Evotech 8-12 and Ross Saltwater V both have hi-tech drags. The reason is mostly - I like the reels, the fact that they have disc drags is secondary.

Do I use the drags - yes. When one is 30 or 40' off the beach in waist deep water on the Thompson with a screamer heading for Lytton, you will be thankful for the drag! You need to use your other hand to wield your wading staff as you slip-slide your way to dry ground. On less demanding rivers I don't think the drag of my reels would make much difference. Personally I think the size of the arbour on the reel is more important than its drag system.
 

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You guys and your modern day Gucci techno titanium...stuff. ok nuff said.

Pawl drag set to prevent over run and maybe a little more.

Loop, yes but mine is longer than 6 inches.

Kush, re being up to the boys and having a hot fish head down stream... well I had that happen with a couple of hot silvers with SA (reel) system II, drag went away. Talk about getting the heart pounding, which is one of the reasons I fish.

a
 

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Whatever you are accustomed too!

I wont claim to be an expert on this topic but I will throw in my two cents worth. If fishing for Steelhead only I dont think that high end drags are required. However fishing atlantics or kings I believe that they are of some value. I have had some steelhead run for what seemed like miles and was greatful for the drag system on my reel. Others have made a quick slash across the river and then it was over? I guess I enjoy that fact that I know I have it if I need it, but I would be really upset if I needed it and didnt have it! I do leave a little loop hanging down between 8 and 12 inches. More for peace of mind and habit than anything else. Good Luck and Tight Lines!
 
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