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Phone 402-640-3266

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Outdoorsmen Productions LLC

Gary Howey

” IN 2017

It’s A Drag and it, best Work. By gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

March 13, 2024

Author with a Northern that latched onto a smaller Walleye when fishing at Carroll Lake Lodge in Canada, without the drag set properly, it would have broken the line. (Photo by Larry Myhre)

 No matter, what you’re fishing for, every reel has some sort of a drag: star, front mounted, center mounted, rear mounted drag system. 

  If you put you rod and reel away for winter without loosening the drag, the fiber washers may be wet and possibly become frozen or stuck together, so it’s very important to back your drag off before putting them away for the season.

  Your reel drag setting is important, as it lets your spool with your line slide when extra pressure is put on your line.

 There are some anglers who think the only drag they can rely on is the reel drag, Wrong!

  Others don’t realize the importance of the lack of a heavy drag in playing a fish.  While it’s true a drag needs to be set tight enough to work fish out of heavy brush and trees.

  For normal fishing, the drag should be set at about 1/4 of the lines breaking test. 

  A good method of checking your drag would be to pull on your line, exerting slight pressure and if the drag doesn’t allow you to pull line from the reel, it’s more than likely set too heavy or tight. 

  Why, because as more line is stripped from the reel, the friction of the line running through the water actually increases the drag, at times doubling the amount of drag being applied.

  Another reason that a drag should be set loosely is that it can always be tightened.  A tight drag can’t always be loosened, especially when you’re fighting a big fish as you’re concentrating on getting the fish in.

 Your second drag is your fingers or a couple of them.  Regardless, the manual finger drag you can apply to the line at any given time is invaluable when playing a big fish.

  When using a bait casting reel, your thumb handles the second drag chores, most fishermen are aware of this!  But when it comes to spinning, fly-fishing and spin casting, many folks think the drag on the reel they set is the only drag they have.

   Also, when a fish is brought to the boat or the shore, there’s a good chance that it will make a sudden lunge. 

  your drag set too tight, it may break off or pull loose.  With a loose drag this won’t happen.

  With the “second “drag in hand and the reels drag set loosely, you’re always in control.  If you need to tighten the drag, just apply finger pressure to the line spool.  This way, if the fish should make a sudden lunge, you can easily let off the finger drag and allow him to pull against your loosely set drag. 

  Another piece of your equipment, when used properly in combination with the drag will help you to land a big fish, and that’s your rod as the right action rod will bend when the fish makes a run, taking pressure off of your line.

  When fighting a fish, keep your rod tip high, allowing the pressure to be taken off the drag absorbed by the rod. Then, keeping the line tight, reel down towards the fish, then bring your rod back to a high position, allowing the flex in the rod to put pressure on the fish and then reeling as this allows the rod to do the work, while not overworking the drag

The important thing to remember is to allow your rod to work properly and that the second drag, our fingers will always be there if you need to apply more pressure.   

Contact by phone at 605.999.7467 or Email

The Carroll Lake Show is available on You Tube at 









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