200# Fishing Reel Drag Heat

Discussion in 'Tackle and Rigging' started by pametfisher, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    Kil and the other great anglers who went to NC recently NC Bluefin Trip (more on Noreast) have given those of us who fish with light tackle a huge head start on the East Coast Bluefin tuna season. Thank you.

    Since Kil first posted his comments about Cape Cod Bay fishermen sometimes using lines and drags that are too light for the fish (yes, I was guilty), I've been interested in analyzing how well the light tackle drags are likely to stand up to 200 pound fish. Kil's summary provides me with a lot of good information. It notes that one of his drags on an Accurate needed maintenance but there are also comments about high drag temperatures possibly affecting bearings, about reels that are hot to the touch and about how well Star-type drags in general work on large fish.

    It turns out, that calculating the internal temperatures is not impossibly difficult. I've had to make some estimates but I can get in the ballpark--a very hot ballpark!

    The keys to estimating the temperature are:

    1. Length of run and average drag: This is the easy part, all you do is multiply the run x drag and the use a scaling factor (778) to get the Btus of heat that the fish creates inside the reel. If the fish goes on one 200 yard run, starting with 22 pounds of drag (which goes up as line comes off), the fish creates about 22 Btus of heat.

    2. a) The weight of the pieces in the reel that initially absorb the heat. That's not too hard to get, just take the reel apart and weigh them. Higher weight means more heat absorption capacity.

    2. b) Know the type of metal. My reels have stainless steel washers and an aluminum spool. Aluminum can absorb twice as much heat per pound as stainless. The spools weigh a little under a half pound (7 oz.). The stainless washers weigh almost nothing, about 0.04 ounces each.

    3. Learn the thermal conductivity of the parts. Harder but do-able.

    4. Estimate how much of the heat goes to each part. Harder still but if the spools won't sizzle water, you know they're below 212 degrees so you can get in the ball park.

    5. Estimate how fast things cool. How long before you can touch a hot frying pan? Answer, it takes a while, same for the internal parts. So I'm assuming that things get hot fast and cool slowly.

    So here are the numbers, roughly:

    Spinning Reel Spool: Temperature rises 120 degrees Fahrenheit (so if it's 70 degrees out, the temperature could get to 190)
    Washers: Depending how many, what weight, cooling assumption, about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. (Steel melts at about 3000 degrees.)
    Errors: If the spool doesn't get as hot as I've predicted, one thing is for sure, the washers will get much hotter.

    Ideally, you want the heat to come out of the drag washer stack slowly at the fastest rate that won't overheat the line on the spool or burn you. This will limit the number of consecutive runs before the drag starts to fade--maybe to just one run.

    For other types of reels, the numbers vary. But most Star drag reels have a different problem. The heat has to be absorbed first by a reduction gear and 4 steel washers--they are going to get to the 1000-1500 degree Fahrenheit range for a 200 yard run at 22 lbs. initial drag. The connection to the cooler outside world is through a shaft, then to a plate, then to the case.

    Some other conventional reels like the Accurate B2 (which I don't own but looked at the schematic) have the drag washers against the spool. My opinion is that this is a lot better than Star types. The numbers should be about like the spinning reel, except for weight differences. If anyone cares to send me the weight of the parts, I can run the numbers.

    If the above drags have more, heavier steel washers the numbers come down. But just how heavy do we want our jigging reels. We measure a difference of ounces, right!

    For my spinning reels this year, I will have ice nearby. It may prove to be the most effective way to cool the spools during/after a long run. Yes, I'm being serious. After hooking any big fish, I will be checking bearing lubrication and drag washer surfaces.

    Nobody who makes a reel says how long they can take the heat the drag systems produce, all they give us is "MAX DRAG" which is what we use to make our purchase decision. That's fine for small fish but not for the big ones--somehow, we need to learn how quickly they dissipate heat. We will learn one way or the other. Unfortunately for light tackle fishermen, if they don't spec it and we don't analyze it, we may just learn the hard way.
     
  2. ksong

    ksong SPONSOR

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    I get dizzy while reading your post, but I know the reel was extremely hot when I fought a 250 lbs yft with Saltiga 50 in 2005. :)

    When Ryan's OJ 4000P (5000P ?) almost got spooled on the Hatteras trip, they said there were smoke and burning smell. :eek:
     

  3. rtran

    rtran Senior Member

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    kudos on another very technical post.
    although reading it translates too much variables to me
    great for things to consider
     
  4. SpecialK

    SpecialK Super Moderator

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    Pametfisher,
    I enjoy your technical posts. Though some of it may be above my "pay grade" I learn a little from each one.
    Just elt us know when you are going to design a reel that auto adjusts drag as line goes out and dissipates heat faster than anythign on the market. ;)
     
  5. BretABaker

    BretABaker Guest

    pamet - i keep meaning to call you and have a long talk about reels, but i fear we'll talk for 4 hours about them :)
     
  6. sbarracl

    sbarracl Member

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    Pamet,

    Very good post. You bring up some interesting points. I think I know how you are trying to calculate the temperatures. By the math you are using, I think you want the Cp, or specific heat, of the parts. I assume you are saying if a mass of metal absorbs a given amount of heat, how much will its temperature go up.

    This is a reasonalbe approach, but does not take into account heat conducted away, which will happen if the run takes five minutes or so. I think your approach is a good first pass.

    Cp for aluminum is .22 BTU/lbm deg F
    steel is .12

    you also need to get from lbf to lbm with a 32.2 constant

    Anyway, 1200 F is really hot and the washers would be red hot and smoking. Maybe they do get that hot??
     
  7. gman

    gman Senior Member

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    guys all over the world land 200 pound fish on spinning reels without incident such as marlin, sharks, yellowfins, bluefins, dogtooth tunas .... I dont think its so far fetched. I've stood on teh bow of two boats attached to a few larger tuna in the 200 pound class and they haven't made it seem impossible at all. Now I haven't landed either one of those fish either but my reel was the least concern I had it performed flawlessly. Pulled hooks were the demise
     
  8. BretABaker

    BretABaker Guest

    sharks and marlin are totally different from bluefin tuna though. the yellowfin you guys almost got in panama was super impressive........i just want to see it done consistently.
     
  9. John_Madison CT

    John_Madison CT Senior Member

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    I suppose you can frame the debate around:

    1. What reel "can possibly" land the 200lb fish without failure.

    vs.

    2. What reel "will probably" land the 200lb fish without failure.
     
  10. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    Pamet,

    Very good post. You bring up some interesting points. I think I know how you are trying to calculate the temperatures. By the math you are using, I think you want the Cp, or specific heat, of the parts. I assume you are saying if a mass of metal absorbs a given amount of heat, how much will its temperature go up.

    This is a reasonalbe approach, but does not take into account heat conducted away, which will happen if the run takes five minutes or so. I think your approach is a good first pass.

    Cp for aluminum is .22 BTU/lbm deg F
    steel is .12

    you also need to get from lbf to lbm with a 32.2 constant

    Anyway, 1200 F is really hot and the washers would be red hot and smoking. Maybe they do get that hot??


    Thanks for the feedback on this, I can use a checker. The approach I've taken is as you deduced. I have sent you a PM with some specifics, including lbm vs. lbf.

    I reduced the calculated numbers in the first posting to try and put some estimate of "reality" into the temperatures I published--that reality being how much heat is conducted away during a run.

    I've had some thoughts that higher drag levels will produce a better actual result (lower drag temperatures). Here is my reasoning:

    1. If the drag is low relative to the power of the fish. The fish can swim very fast, producing the heat before it can be conducted to other surfaces.

    2. If the drag is fairly high, the fish can't swim as fast, expending part of its energy creating turbulence in the water, rather than heating your drag.

    So the greatest danger of heating I see is when the drag is not high enough to slow the fish. Think of it this way, you have 400 yards of line and set the drag at 10 lbs. and hook a 200 pound fish. It swims away at 30 miles per hour (?) which is about 14 yards per second. That means two things it will spool the reel in about 30 seconds, and will produce all its heat (about 22 Btu since the drag goes up as the spool unwinds) before it dissipates anywhere.

    If you were to set the drag at 50 lbs. (I know, tough to hold) that same fish might only take 50 yards over a few minutes. Producing 10 Btus. Only half the heat, over a longer time, giving the reel time to cool some. (At some drag level, the fish can't take line and would put all its energy into creating turbulence--or dragging you!)

    Fishermen with actual fish on the line will have to give some feedback, but the concepts are sound.
     
  11. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    I suppose you can frame the debate around:

    1. What reel "can possibly" land the 200lb fish without failure.

    vs.

    2. What reel "will probably" land the 200lb fish without failure.

    This is a very good way to think of it. You need a strong drag AND one that can dissipate some of the heat. Fast enough, but not so fast that it cooks your line.
     
  12. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    I get dizzy while reading your post, but I know the reel was extremely hot when I fought a 250 lbs yft with Saltiga 50 in 2005. :)

    When Ryan's OJ 4000P (5000P ?) almost got spooled on the Hatteras trip, they said there were smoke and burning smell. :eek:

    Kil, I bet your head is spinning from the dreams of watching that 250 lb. YFT pull line off your reel. ;)

    The Saltiga is a good example of the Star drag reels I've used. I've attached some photos from an Alan Tani tutorial. In Photo 1 you can see the drag stack and gear. This has to absorb all the initial heat.

    In Photo 2 you can see more clearly the parts that take all the initial heat. One gear and 5 steel washers. There is not much metal mass to absorb the heat. So if the fish runs long and fast, it gets really hot.

    In Photo 3 you can see the steel gear shaft that will eventually conduct heat to the reel case. In order for the case to get hot to the touch, the washers inside must get VERY hot. Of course you never feel them.

    On another board, to a similar post a month or so ago, someone told me about hitching their car to a big spinning reel and driving 300 yards down the track at 30 MPH against 40 lbs. of drag. His observation was that the reel didn't even get hot. That's not a good sign. It means the internal parts, that couldn't be touched got extremely hot. Food for thought.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    kudos on another very technical post.
    although reading it translates too much variables to me
    great for things to consider

    You're right about that. Simply put long fast runs against Medium drag pressure with lightweight reels, generate a lot of heat.

    The question is can the reel shed the heat fast enough.
     
  14. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    guys all over the world land 200 pound fish on spinning reels without incident such as marlin, sharks, yellowfins, bluefins, dogtooth tunas .... I dont think its so far fetched. I've stood on teh bow of two boats attached to a few larger tuna in the 200 pound class and they haven't made it seem impossible at all. Now I haven't landed either one of those fish either but my reel was the least concern I had it performed flawlessly. Pulled hooks were the demise

    I think good quality spinning reels (ones with large bottom of spool drag washers) have an advantage over many conventional star drag reels.

    The spinners have the first drag washer is in direct contact with the spool. This is a good drag configuration as long as the other parts hold up (i.e. shaft, anti-reverse bearing, etc.).

    It's not the size of the fish that matters, but how athletic it is. If it can run far and fast, and the initial heat absorbing parts are light in weight, watch out! (15 lb. Blues always pull a lot more line than 15 lb. Stripers, and a lot faster too.)

    Not to be ridiculous, but its like watching someone start a fire with a stick and a bow. Everything is cool to the touch (since wood is a bad conductor of heat) except the tip of the stick, which suddenly has a glowing hot coal--that's the steel washer in the drag. Spin it enough and it gets really hot.
     
  15. gman

    gman Senior Member

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    I cant speak for everyone only my on the water experience. I have yet to meet a tuna that will rip off more than 150-200 yards in a long run at 20 pounds of drag or more. Even my largest in Panama which was well in the 200 pound class took less than that. They are burst swimmers and vaccum feeders, they are meant for bursts of acceleration.

    My stella wasnt hot at all not even one bit not to say that all fish are created equal because Ive had my ass kicked by a 75 pound tuna that came straight from hell and Ive also had 160's come in like a puppy.
     
  16. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    I cant speak for everyone only my on the water experience. I have yet to meet a tuna that will rip off more than 150-200 yards in a long run at 20 pounds of drag or more. Even my largest in Panama which was well in the 200 pound class took less than that. They are burst swimmers and vaccum feeders, they are meant for bursts of acceleration.

    My stella wasnt hot at all not even one bit not to say that all fish are created equal because Ive had my ass kicked by a 75 pound tuna that came straight from hell and Ive also had 160's come in like a puppy.

    Here's from Kil's trip report:

    I always favor star dag reels for tuna jigging as star drag reels are much convenient to use, easy to gear in and out and there is no binding problem at all. However I saw the limitation of star drag reels for big tuna in 150 - 250 lbs range to fight effectively after I fought a couple of cow upto 250 lbs on jigs on the long range trip out of San Diego in 2005. Friday's trip revealed the same problem as tuna we fought were well over 150 lbs range, some I believe are way over 200 lbs.
    Joe used Saltiga 40 with 90 lbs braided line/80 lbs fluoro carbon leader line and reel couldn't gain any line with max drag of 25 lbs even fought over 30 minutes.
    \Ryan used Ocea Jigger 4000P. The reel is very popular among jig fishermen around the world with 30 plus lbs max drag, but the reel got smoked when it got almost spooled by a big bluefin. Capt Dave of the Godspeed said "it smelled like some one was driving with their parking brake on."


    I'm not sure how much line he had but the reel is said to hold 450M of PE6 and 300M of PE8 and it looks like they were all fishing with 20 lbs. or greater drag.

    But as I said, and as Kil noted, the Star drags seem to have less heat conduction and heat absorption capacity.

    I forgot the photos on Star drags in an earlier post. I'll go add them now.
     
  17. gman

    gman Senior Member

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    great pictures
     
  18. pametfisher

    pametfisher Senior Member

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    I'd like to make some comments about the Stella (will look at Daiwa and Twinspin later). I have experience with three large spinning reels and lots of small ones.

    As I comment on these reels, one thing should be kept in mind, if a large fish (BFT) goes on a 200 yard run against 22 pounds of initial drag, each reel WILL create and WILL have to absorb and then dissipate about 22 Btu of HEAT. How hot the reels get and how quickly they cool down, will be a function of their design.

    From the standpoint of drag and heat dissipation, spinning reels are good. The drag system is mounted on an outside component of the reel and the heat sink (the spool) is well cooled by air. The Shimano Stella 20000 (FA or SW) is a standout. Lot's of drag washers, the biggest mounted on the bottom. A large aluminum spool. Lot's of functional holes machined into the skirt of the spool. These holes help the spool dissipate heat quickly. High quality bearings in the spool, that should be able to stand up to heat (I'm not a bearing expert so this is just my opinion from looking at them.)

    Here is a comparison of three reels:

    Stella 20K FA: 3 small top drag washers; 3 large bottom drag washers FA, 2 keyed in SW; large spool with holes machined into skirt. Max drag 55 lbs. Photo at: Stella SW bottom drag photo

    Saragosa 14000/18000: 5 small top washers; holes in skirt. Max drag 44 lbs. Photo attached.

    Penn 950 SSM: 1 small top washer; 1 large bottom washer with added heat absorber plate; no holes in skirt. Max drag (unspecified but tested at about 18 lbs.) Will add Photo later.

    On the Penn, which I used last year, a 135 pound BFT made 2 runs of 200 yards against 15 pounds of drag. The spool got quite hot to the touch.

    A comment on Conventional reels:

    I am not saying that spinning reels have better drags than conventionals. As conventional reels get bigger, and as the drag systems move toward spool mounted drag washers and plates, they are able to generate and dissipate large amounts of heat. I'm really confining my comments to light tackle, especially the self-contained Star drags like the Saltiga which can produce high drag numbers but appear to not have good ways to let the heat out (for very large fish).
     

    Attached Files:

  19. alantani

    alantani Senior Member

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    perhaps this is an odd question, but water boils as 212 deg F. have any of you ever seen steam coming out of your reels? alan
     
  20. workin

    workin Member

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    Hey,

    I'm diggin' this post - fun stuff to think about.

    Actual temperatures aside, I expect what happens is that the reel reaches equilibrium at some point, at which the heat generated equals the heat dissipated. As you've pointed out, the heat generated at the washers has to move out to the surface of the reel so that it can be removed by convection. The better the conductivity of the mating surfaces, the better the heat will move. If the outside isn't warming up, it ain't good.

    It would be interesting to hook a drag system (yours, not mine :) to a motor and see what temperature it would reach before it got to equilibrium.

    Thinking about this makes one think about how important drag grease quality is. The grease has to resist liquifying and boiling off, so high temp resisitance is critical. Also, the grease itself should improve heat conductivity thus help move the heat to the metal components.