Setting Drag Spring Scale : straight off reel Vs Bendo pull...

geebee

My Member is Well-Known
Nov 12, 2016
1,135
553
San Diego
Name
Gee Bee
Boat
Partial to AZTEC - aspiring to INTREPID
I'm still trying to figure out my lever drags calibration

for this conversation, my reels are full to the brim and I am setting the drags at Strike setting

For example: an Avet HXW Raptor with 80lb fluorocarbon with 20lb drag setting (bluefin target species)

got to a point I was putting barbell and calibration weights in a bag and pulling on it, putting a bend in the rod with the line strung through the guides

SWITCHED TO STRAIGHT PULL OFF THE REELS

a few days ago, I set my 7 lever drag reels using both methods - pulling reels straight off the reels with digital and spring scale and pulling the weight strung through the bendo on the desired weights

I deduced there is not much difference between the two methods - and straight off the reel is a whole lot easier (and safer)

at this point I am not sure what benefit pulling on a bended rod...
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: sickcat

geebee

My Member is Well-Known
Nov 12, 2016
1,135
553
San Diego
Name
Gee Bee
Boat
Partial to AZTEC - aspiring to INTREPID
Download and print this drag calculator:

DragCalculator3.jpg
 
Upvote 0

geebee

My Member is Well-Known
Nov 12, 2016
1,135
553
San Diego
Name
Gee Bee
Boat
Partial to AZTEC - aspiring to INTREPID
maybe some will say to DEVELOP A FEEL (and forget about the scales), but I'm not there yet

in my limited experience, the correct drag settings feel noticeable stiffer than what crew members like (they have preached loose drags) - it's confusing

I can always back off the drag to let the fish make a few runs and get away from the boat to tire it out, but it's nice to know where drag setting are when I need to put max pressure on it...
 
  • Like
Reactions: woodfish330
Upvote 0

2Rotten

Live in Oregon/Love to Fish San Diego!
Jan 10, 2010
469
1,048
Junction City OR
Name
Rod Lathrop
Boat
24' North River Seahawk Hardtop "Sun Dog"
Straight pull off the spring scale. On my recent trip on Tomahawk star Deck Hand Brad suggested 30# of drag at Strike on my "Heavy"; a 7'6" Viper paired with a Mak 20 loaded with 700 yards of 100# JB braid topped with 15' of 100# fluoro. First run was 3/4 Strike, then Strike until fish was within 100' of the boat, then almost full for the final 100' (40# of drag).

Question for those of you with more Big Fish experience than me (which is Many of you!)

Is there such a thing as bringing your BFT in too hot/too quick?
  • The 185# came to gaff in 19 minutes
  • The 120# and the 125# were gaffed at 9 minutes
The 125# actually swam off the gaff on the first attempt. Not a problem, it came back and decided to stay the second time. It did get me to wondering if I was possibly bringing in these fish too hot? My assumption has always been that less time in the water/less chances for tangles with other lines/fish is better.

Thoughts please!

PXL_20210524_074229450.jpg
 
Last edited:
Upvote 0

Xue

Member
Jan 3, 2015
286
113
Name
Xue
Boat
None
I think pulling line through the guides is a more accurate method because that's how we fight fish, but, with braid and the advanced guides used today I don't think there's much friction with line going through them. The friction probably isn't more than a couple lbs anyways and our drags are set way under limit so it probably makes little difference for normal fishing. We're not doing line class tournament fishing or going for records.
 
Upvote 0

Shimano Penn

I Should Upgrade My Account
Dec 3, 2014
1,496
1,188
63
Chula Vista
Name
David
Boat
Fond Memory
I have always used a spring scale and constantly hear hear people (actual real professionals) disrespecting digital scales so there's that. I have always set drags through the rod at ~90 degrees (your "bendo") but even though I've never tried it I suspect you are right, probably not a huge difference pulling straight off the reel. If it's easier then go for it. Just remember to warm up the drag first (several long hard pulls at least).
As for developing a "feel"; IMHO this is the biggest joke in sportfishing. Do you honestly think you can "feel" the difference between 13# and 16#? 20 and 24? Every single time I have ever put a scale to someone's "feel set" drag it is always hopelessly light.
I set my LD reels to 33% of the weakest link at strike, that doesn't mean I always push to strike. If a deck hand grabs my rod "to check my drag" I tell him exactly what it is at strike and full (I check and mark it on the reel) and I tell him if he doesn't like it change the lever but don't f' with the preset. Then when he moves on I simply go back to where I want to be :D
Last comment; People will tell you that you have to set your drag like 10 seconds before you fish because temperature, humidity and other environmental factors will affect it. I set all of mine the night before I go to the docks. Once set I keep the reel in freespool with clicker on at all times unless I am fishing it. I mostly fish 1.5 to 3 day trips. Usually it's the next day after getting home when I clean up my gear. I check the drags. They are perfect every time, no change whatsoever (okay maybe one #) whether they caught fish or not.
JME/ YMMV
 
Upvote 0

jmch75

Almost A Member
Apr 28, 2017
154
96
San Diego
Name
Joe Curly
Boat
None
Here's my thoughts...

The reel doesn't know if there is a bend in the rod or not. All it does is give out line when a (counter) force exceeds the friction point you set (which we're loosing calling setting the drag - or the point where the reel begins to slip). So the answer to the question is the same either way.

Now, I suspect you are questioning this primary because you noticed it was harder to get the reel to slip when you had a bend in the rod vs a straight pull.

The answer for this is simple, and it's just math and angles. When you flat rod, straight pull, point the rod tip directly at the fish (all the same for this discussion), the angler is effectively supporting the weight of the rig (and making sure it doesn't fly out of their hands from the pulling fish) and there aren't any other significant forces in play aside from the fish taking the line, which your reel is happily managing by giving out line. The force is effectively acted upon a straight line starting from your reel, through the guides, and to the fish. The moment you put a "bend in the rod" or effectively create an angle, now the force equation changes as its no longer a "straight line". Instead, the line from the reel goes through the guides, and now at an angle to the fish. The angler will need to exert more effort/pressure to compensate for a new force, which I'll call the "pulling the rod force" that the angle is creating. The fish on the end of the line doesn't know if you've got an angle or not. It doesn't care and will do whatever it wants. But the angler will be working much harder to overcome this new force and think with the big bend in the rod, they're kicking ass. Well, there is definitely some ass kicking, but it ain't the fish's ass that's getting kicked.

Finally, for your comment on crew members and their perception of drag settings being loose. I too have experienced this. They are just trying to be helpful. A few do have a lot of experience and can give a pretty good estimate with a simple pull or two compared to a calibrated scale. Others, well.. let's just say that they mean well, but they are definitely on the light side. Trust your scale, and use it. Once you use it enough times, you'll be able to "feel it" and be right within a few lbs. But until then, I don't recommend blindly going with whatever deckhands say or do and forgoing the scale.

Good Luck.
 
Upvote 0

Shimano Penn

I Should Upgrade My Account
Dec 3, 2014
1,496
1,188
63
Chula Vista
Name
David
Boat
Fond Memory
Is there such a thing as bringing your BFT in too hot/too quick?
You might enjoy this old thread. Sorry but you have to scroll to the end to see the pics.
 
Upvote 0

Bill W

tunaholic
  • Jan 12, 2006
    5,652
    7,277
    67
    Chino Hills, Ca.
    Name
    Bill Walsh
    Boat
    Red Rooster
    There are so many variables. Cause the amount of line on the spool will double the drag with line out. The rod bend does come into play but more to wear out the fish cause the rod rebound is quicker to react than you are and a running fish I always get the rod vertical. (But when the run stops you can point, rock and wind cause the fish changed direction) And the fish always has a belly of line away from the boat. I pull straight off the reel cause it is easily repeatable from the last trip.

    150# is 35 drag
    130# is 32 drag
    100# is 29 drag
    80# is 28 drag
    50# is 16 drag
    40# is 14 drag

    All straight pull off the reel, at strike setting. Works well for me. If I am fishing Seguar Premier I go down one rating from above.
     
    Last edited:
    Upvote 0

    anemic

    circling the drain
    Mar 6, 2004
    249
    511
    66
    Long Beach
    Name
    Chuck
    Boat
    nope
    . . . People will tell you that you have to set your drag like 10 seconds before you fish because temperature, humidity and other environmental factors will affect it . . .
    Also, wear on the drag washers can possibly affect the amount of drag at a particular lever angle. It sounds like Shimano Penn has been checking and it hasn't happened on his reels but for a fisherman with cheaper gear it could be a factor, A long fight with a BFT taking line at high speed can heat, polish, wear and de-grease drag washers that might result in a change in the amount of drag.

    Please, what kind of scales are you guys using to set your drags? TIA!
     
    Upvote 0

    geebee

    My Member is Well-Known
    Nov 12, 2016
    1,135
    553
    San Diego
    Name
    Gee Bee
    Boat
    Partial to AZTEC - aspiring to INTREPID
    Also, ...
    Please, what kind of scales are you guys using to set your drags? TIA!

    I have these three (the CARDOZA fishing spring sales are old and untested for accuracy) - I recall some spring scales have a calibration adjustment, not sure these do)

    I will probably figure the error (against my digital scale) and adjust for it because I like the sliding indicator that I do not believe digital scales have

    Note: if you are setting a drag between 5-15 pounds, look for a spring scale in that range (my gold 15lb scale) - getting accuracy in that range out of a heavier scale (my green 60lb scale) may be a lesson in futility...

    I do not believe a 30# or 100lb scale is particularly useful for setting 4-15lbs of drag

    Scales.jpg


    drag-scales.jpg
     
    Last edited:
    Upvote 0

    Pacific Jigger

    You’ll never know unless you go
    Sep 16, 2019
    559
    1,265
    United States
    Name
    Bud
    Boat
    Formula 233
    Straight pull off the spring scale. On my recent trip on Tomahawk star Deck Hand Brad suggested 30# of drag at Strike on my "Heavy"; a 7'6" Viper paired with a Mak 20 loaded with 700 yards of 100# JB braid topped with 15' of 100# fluoro. First run was 3/4 Strike, then Strike until fish was within 100' of the boat, then almost full for the final 100' (40# of drag).

    Question for those of you with more Big Fish experience than me (which is Many of you!):

    Is there such a thing as bringing your BFT in too hot/too quick?
    • The 185# came to gaff in 19 minutes
    • The 120# and the 125# were gaffed at 9 minutes
    The 125# actually swam off the gaff on the first attempt. Not a problem, it came back and decided to stay the second time. It did get me to wondering if I was possibly bringing in these fish too hot? My assumption has always been that less time in the water/less chances for tangles with other lines/fish is better.

    Thoughts please!

    View attachment 1289042
    No such thing as a too hot tuna. Tuna should be fought with the maximum drag your setup and terminal end gear will allow. Fights should be as brutal as you can make them from the tuna’s perspective and end as quickly as you can arrange it. Fight a tuna too long and you’ll ‘burn’ the meat from lactic acid buildup. This is why commercially sold tuna are cored to sample the meat and it’s why the commercial rod and reel fish in other areas are sometimes swam alongside the boat for a period of time to clear the lactic acid buildup in the fish before being dispatched. They make gear specifically for handling tuna that are to be swam in this manner.
     
    Upvote 0

    walter heim

    Newbie
    Feb 20, 2021
    70
    68
    63
    San Diego
    Name
    walter heim
    Boat
    Bayrunner
    The tension required to slip the drag is the same whether it is a straight pull or from a bent rod. The advantage to the bent rod method is that you realize what mechanical advantage the fish has on you. For say a 7 ft rod with a fast taper bent at 90 deg, the fish pulling down at 20 lb is reacted by your arms pulling up at 50-60 lbs. How long do you think you can do that? So, if you get tired, point the rod at the fish or rest the rod on the rail. I am also a proponent of moderate action short rods if you fight the fish standing up. That reduces the mechanical advantage. Another thing to consider is the tension you set with a full spool is twice or three times higher when you are down to the spindle for most reels. That is why you set the drag at 1/3 the line breaking strength.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: anemic
    Upvote 0

    Sandydog

    Almost A Member
    Mar 18, 2017
    182
    398
    52
    Dana Point, CA
    Name
    John Kim
    Boat
    n/a
    Only difference between measuring straight off the reel and with a bent rod, is the friction of the line over the guides. The bent rod method will result in a slightly lower drag setting for this reason (part of the tension in the scale gets absorbed by friction).

    So it doesn't really matter which method you use. Although the bent rod method can give you a sense of eyeballing how much the rod should bend when you have the correct amount of tension in the line. Which theoretically could let you set the drag again while on the boat if there's no scale handy. (This only works when you have little to no line played out, as the drag force from the reel increases when you have more line out. So it's actually not that useful in the most likely case -the deckhand changes the drag setting without asking you while fighting a fish, or you accidentally knock the drag star.)

    The purpose of the rod is to act as a shock absorber and keep the same tension in the line, regardless of any rapid movement by the fish (or the fisherman). Try tying the scale directly to the reel, have a friend hold the reel, and you jerk the scale back and forth. You'll see the weight reading jump all over the place. Now run the line through the rod and use the scale to measure with a bent rod, and jerk the scale back and forth. The weight reading will still jump, but nowhere near as much as when tied directly to the reel.

    In the same way, If the fish suddenly charges towards you, instead of the line immediately going slack and and losing tension causing the hook to fall out, the rod straightens out to pick up some of that slack. That gives you a little more time to start cranking that slack in. If the fish suddenly makes a run, the rod absorbs the initial pull of the line by bending more, giving your drag more time to slip and start playing out line.

    This is why they tell you not to shoot the fish. If you point the rod at the fish, yes it's easier because you don't have to hold the rod up. But you're losing that shock absorbing function of the rod.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: wahbam and esgeo
    Upvote 0

    2Rotten

    Live in Oregon/Love to Fish San Diego!
    Jan 10, 2010
    469
    1,048
    Junction City OR
    Name
    Rod Lathrop
    Boat
    24' North River Seahawk Hardtop "Sun Dog"
    No such thing as a too hot tuna. Tuna should be fought with the maximum drag your setup and terminal end gear will allow. Fights should be as brutal as you can make them from the tuna’s perspective and end as quickly as you can arrange it. Fight a tuna too long and you’ll ‘burn’ the meat from lactic acid buildup. This is why commercially sold tuna are cored to sample the meat and it’s why the commercial rod and reel fish in other areas are sometimes swam alongside the boat for a period of time to clear the lactic acid buildup in the fish before being dispatched. They make gear specifically for handling tuna that are to be swam in this manner.
    Thanks! Confirms my thought process.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Pacific Jigger
    Upvote 0

    finsane

    Jabroni
    Oct 11, 2005
    1,313
    1,154
    California
    Name
    Dennis
    Boat
    None
    I run the line thru the guides, attach my spring scale to my receiver hitch with a carabiner, pull and adjust accordingly.
    $.02 added
     
    Upvote 0

    MikeC.

    Member
    Jun 22, 2019
    277
    223
    39
    Torrance, Ca
    Name
    Mike
    Boat
    none
    I'm still trying to figure out my lever drags calibration

    for this conversation, my reels are full to the brim and I am setting the drags at Strike setting

    For example: an Avet HXW Raptor with 80lb fluorocarbon with 20lb drag setting (bluefin target species)

    got to a point I was putting barbell and produce weights in a bag and pulling it, putting a bend in the rod with the line strung through the guides

    SWITCHED TO STRAIGHT PULL OFF THE REELS

    a few days ago, I set my 7 lever drag reels using both methods - pulling reels straight off the reels with digital and spring scale and pulling the weight strung through the bendo on the desired weights

    I deduced there is not much difference between the two methods - and straight off the reel is a whole lot easier

    at this point I am not sure what benefit pulling

    on a different note… bump your drag up a few lbs when fishing 80lb
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Chucker o’ Jigs
    Upvote 0

    rdrrm8e

    Fucking Stan
    Nov 19, 2003
    6,751
    2,286
    117
    Anaheim
    bdoutdoors.com
    Name
    chuck
    Boat
    No
    maybe some will say to DEVELOP A FEEL (and forget about the scales), but I'm not there yet

    in my limited experience, the correct drag settings feel noticeable stiffer than what crew members like (they have preached loose drags) - it's confusing

    I can always back off the drag to let the fish make a few runs and get away from the boat to tire it out, but it's nice to know where drag setting are when I need to put max pressure on it...
    This is correct IMHFO. i have never used a scale. The scale has no idea of my connections, my line and the boat and today's sea conditions. But i do have 50 plus years on the water and i do know my gear and limitations.learn to use your hands and straight pull.
     
    Upvote 0

    Blind Luck

    Member
  • Feb 14, 2015
    321
    742
    Temecula
    Name
    Mike Grieco
    Boat
    MALAKAS
    Whatever way you use a spring scale...use common sense on the boat
    Have seen connections fail, high stick rod explosions, and spring scales come apart.
    Be aware of your surroundings before you impale someone or hurt yourself.
    Double check equipment
     
    Upvote 0

    dsl

    I Should Upgrade My Account
  • Nov 20, 2017
    1,286
    565
    California
    Name
    Larry S
    Boat
    Landlover
    Have seen connections fail, high stick rod explosions, and spring scales come apart.
    Be aware of your surroundings before you impale someone or hurt yourself.
    Double check equipment
    👌 👍
     
    Upvote 0

    Proteus

    Almost A Member
  • Jun 19, 2020
    157
    237
    51
    SF
    Name
    Proteus
    Boat
    The charter with the best price.
    I know several reel repair pros and they *ALL* use the reel only when setting drag.
    Safest and most accurate.
     
    Upvote 0