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Earlier in the year, after measuring all my spinning reels for maximum drag, I concluded that the Max Drag spec for spinning reels was an EMPTY SPOOL number. (See: Spinning Reel Maximum Drag Specifications about the middle of the page.)

Since I hadn't measured a large number of conventional reels, I was unwilling to say that would be the case for them too but I suspected it. This weekend, I came across some photos on the Everol web site that clearly show that drags are almost always specified at empty spool when the "effective diameter" of the spool is smallest (nothing wrong with that).

Look at the attached photo of the Everol 4/0. First, you can see that the full spool (top arc of numbers) shows a maximum drag of 10 lbs. Then, looking at the bottom arc, you can see that 30 lbs. is the maximum drag with the lever forward. Lastly, notice that below the name 4/0 on the reel is the number 30 lbs.

This is not just an Everol reel phenomenon but they are one of the few companies to be clear and honest about the design and performance of their product. I applaud them.

This doesn't mean that you can't over tighten the drag adjusting screw to obtain more than 10 lbs. at full spool, but there are a couple important implications:

1. If you try for more than 10 lbs. at full spool, you will likely be asking the reel for 3X more heat dissipation than it was designed to achieve if you hook a large fish.

2. You will have fully compressed the drag spring and will be overloading the screw threads of the tightening mechanism. This will also lead to poor free spool performance.

So here's a simple rule of thumb since the diameter of most spools varies by 2.5:1 or 3.0:1 from full spool to empty spool: when you see a Max Drag specification, divide it by 2.5 or 3 to know the maximum drag that you should expect at full spool.

So for example, this means that a Stella FA or SW, (on which I've measured the diameters) with a Max Drag spec of 55 lbs., should be expected to produce about 20 lbs. when the spool is full. And in the case of an Everol 4/0 (thanks Everol for being clear) with a 30 lb. Max Drag spec, the full spool number is 10 lbs. and a Saragosa 18K with a 44 lb. spec. was designed for 16 lbs. at full spool. Can you get more drag than these numbers, yes, but you're overloading the mechanics, and may overload the heat dissipation design when you do.
 

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Roger: Great post. I'm not sure that's completely true with all Conv. reels. Many claim much lower "max drag" #'s.

For example, a Shimano Tiagra 16 claims 23lbs at Strike and 30lb at Full, while maintaining free spool. I found this to be nearly exactly the case with my Tiagra 16 with a full spool of braid. I'm sure at close to an empty spool, the drag would be much higher.

All my Penn Internationals show similar #'s.

Many of the spinning reel claims are kind of crazy. Shimano doesn't claim 55lbs of drag for their 80 class reel, while they say a Stella can do it. Kind of weird really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Roger: Great post. I'm not sure that's completely true with all Conv. reels. Many claim much lower "max drag" #'s.

For example, a Shimano Tiagra 16 claims 23lbs at Strike and 30lb at Full, while maintaining free spool. I found this to be nearly exactly the case with my Tiagra 16 with a full spool of braid. I'm sure at close to an empty spool, the drag would be much higher.

All my Penn Internationals show similar #'s.

Many of the spinning reel claims are kind of crazy. Shimano doesn't claim 55lbs of drag for their 80 class reel, while they say a Stella can do it. Kind of weird really.

Hi John: I expected this to be a controversial thread. Looking at the design of the Tiagra and comparing it to the drag mechanism of the Everol and other reels, I accept that you achieve the numbers you measured but I also believe that Shimano means at empty spool on the Tiagra too.

When drag is specified there are several considerations: how much friction can the reel create (the lbs. we measure), how much torque can the bearings and gears withstand, and how much heat can the reel dissipate and for how long?

Again, I applaud Everol for the clarity.
 

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Randy Bassinga
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A number of years ago I had access to a 1000m long driveway. A similar topic came up amongst some fellow fishers and we decided to put it to the test. Using a very good set of scales we would test to see what would happen while completely spooling the line off the reel. One bloke would hang on to the outfit, two blokes would jump in the car and drive away 60kph. One of the blokes in the car hangs onto the scales holding it outa the window. We tested a number of reels like this and most did fine for the first few meters but the drag just dropped away to nothing very quickly. One reel had the drag knob cooked. Most of the other spools became very sticky or seized up after cooling down. None of the ones which did this were running carbontex washers. A tiagra 50 tested remained very consistent and actually increased as line was lost but not by much. A 4500 baitrunner running aftermarket washers and 14kg of drag also remained very consistent over 250m dropping only 3kg. All the reels got very hot

We started just under the max specified drags except for the baitrunner which managed crank up till 14kg while staying smooth

The conlusion we drew from these tests were that although physics state the the drag should increase, the head buildup works inversely. The carbontex washer upgrade on reels that didnt already have them keeps things more consistent
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A number of years ago I had access to a 1000m long driveway. A similar topic came up amongst some fellow fishers and we decided to put it to the test. Using a very good set of scales we would test to see what would happen while completely spooling the line off the reel. One bloke would hang on to the outfit, two blokes would jump in the car and drive away 60kph. One of the blokes in the car hangs onto the scales holding it outa the window. We tested a number of reels like this and most did fine for the first few meters but the drag just dropped away to nothing very quickly. One reel had the drag knob cooked. Most of the other spools became very sticky or seized up after cooling down. None of the ones which did this were running carbontex washers. A tiagra 50 tested remained very consistent and actually increased as line was lost but not by much. A 4500 baitrunner running aftermarket washers and 14kg of drag also remained very consistent over 250m dropping only 3kg. All the reels got very hot

We started just under the max specified drags except for the baitrunner which managed crank up till 14kg while staying smooth

The conlusion we drew from these tests were that although physics state the the drag should increase, the head buildup works inversely. The carbontex washer upgrade on reels that didnt already have them keeps things more consistent

Very interesting tests! You made one of my points, exactly, that these reels are not designed to dissipate the heat that the Max Drag spec suggests. You'd be surprised by the internal temperatures if you measured them.

Your test answered the question: What happens to drag levels when a reel gets overheated? You found the answer, which is the same as when you ride a car's brakes going downhill. The brakes fail and a reel's drag fails, and for the same reason. They can't shed heat fast enough.

By the way, if you take a cool reel and test the drag at empty spool, you get the type of numbers that Everol suggests by its innovative specs.
 

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Randy Bassinga
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The thing is that even with starting with a third of the drag, the heat will still build up. A number of reels that I have played with have held up max drag for bit just fine, its the crappy washers in most that let them down. A recent reel update from a big brand name has seen drag failures like in my torture tests while running quite low drags on tuna. The previous gen of the same reel model didnt have this issue. Its a mid priced reel that goes from 1500-8000 sizes. The only thing different inside the spool between the generations are the drag washers. Upgrade to better washers and the capability to hold that becomes much better. The trick is to back the drag off on capable reels like the tiagaras as the load increases. Thats the whole point of lever drags and my respect goes to reels like the tiagras and the new mid priced tyrnos that can flog the stated max drags and come back for more. I am hoping the JM PE3 is built along these lines one of them is my next reel purchase
 

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Pametfisher: I've spoken to Shimano about this. There's a guy on Noreast.com who works for Shimano and runs a small forum there.

I was told that the spec of his reels is with a full spool. Of course, maybe I misunderstood.

I'd send him a note for confirmation. Also, to discuss this with Penn, you can contact Tom Blecker. Tom is their Service Manager. Very nice guy. His email is: [email protected]

I'm sure both can clarify for us. Granted, they certainly don't represent all reel manufacturers.
 

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Heat is the killer of drags and the internal parts of reels. I think you are better off starting off with a heavier drag (full spool) and try to stop the fish from making a long run. If you can't stop him and 1/3 of the line is gone, then you better lower the drag lever fast or the line is going to pop.

I've been on boats where an 80W has been stripped down to almost seeing the brass on the bottom of the spool on a explosive run by a marlin. I don't know if it is smart or not, but I've seen different methods of cooling off the reel.

Some will dip a 5 gallon bucket into the ocean and pour it over the reel. Some will get the fresh water wash down hose and spray it on the reel for about three minutes. I've even seen guys take the rod and reel from the angler in the chair and dunk it in the ocean with the marlin still attached. The reel will sizzle and create air bubbles in the water. I thought that was stupid, but it worked. It wasn't my reel so I really did care. I enjoy the drama of guys in a panic situation. Sometimes its me the panic mode.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Heat is the killer of drags and the internal parts of reels. I think you are better off starting off with a heavier drag (full spool) and try to stop the fish from making a long run. If you can't stop him and 1/3 of the line is gone, then you better lower the drag lever fast or the line is going to pop. ...

It's interesting, when you know exactly what you've got: drag, heat, line strength etc., you can play things a number of ways.

I took a different approach on my 22'-er. I worked out what the maximum drag at the bottom of the spool would be, built a line system that was stronger than the reel's maximum drag, and made an estimate of Boat Min/Max Drag. If I fish from the front of the boat, I get Boat Min Drag, and if I keep the boat turned sideways I get Boat Max Drag. Perhaps one day I'll be spotted at the front of the boat, with an empty/spooled Stella 20000FA, rod pointed straight ahead, being towed by a 90" Bluefin ... ;)
 

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Pametfisher: I've spoken to Shimano about this. There's a guy on Noreast.com who works for Shimano and runs a small forum there.

I was told that the spec of his reels is with a full spool. Of course, maybe I misunderstood.

I'd send him a note for confirmation. Also, to discuss this with Penn, you can contact Tom Blecker. Tom is their Service Manager. Very nice guy. His email is: [email protected]

I'm sure both can clarify for us. Granted, they certainly don't represent all reel manufacturers.

The max drag setting at full spool may be capable of generating their published figures but whether or not the reel can handle long runs at those settings is another thing altogether.

Don't get me wrong (I own a Stella too) and the high number is worthwhile to have for fighting those fish that have an extremely powerful but short first run (think Cubera Snapper).

But any reel that can comfortably generate 25lbs when full will produce 50 pounds as the reel empties as the radius arm of the lever to turn the spool decreases in size as line empties.

The question is: "who has the drag to produce 50lbs all day long?"... I am not convinced that any spinning reel has the heat dissipation to handle multiple consecutive 300 yard runs at 50lbs of drag yet.
 

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So the real issue is not necessary the "specs" of the reel but rather, for how long can the reel maintain a certain drag.

This adds an enormous variable as to how we value a reels drag ability.

I've never heard a manufacturer say their reel can manage "X" drag for "Y" minutes. Wow.........this can get very complicated.

Is a reel that can handle 20lbs drag for 300 yards of line better than a reel that can do 30lbs for 200 yards of line......................yada yada yada.....:p
 

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So on a decently sized conventional reel (room for some heat dissipation) would a run that takes up half of the spool stiil have the same amount of drag since the smaller spool diameter increases drag, but the heated carbon fiber washer has less strength? Would they cancel each other out so the drag as set stays the same I guess is my question?
 

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So on a decently sized conventional reel (room for some heat dissipation) would a run that takes up half of the spool stiil have the same amount of drag since the smaller spool diameter increases drag, but the heated carbon fiber washer has less strength? Would they cancel each other out so the drag as set stays the same I guess is my question?

With a quality reel like a Shimano the Drag increases as the spool empties. This is generally true with all reels that have "head room" over the initial drag setting. Though heat *may* play a role to reduce the total number reached it is more a question of how long the reel can maintain it rather than if it can reach the stated number.

Now, a reel with say, 25lbs max, will never be able to generate more than that so if you set it at 20 lbs when full it gets to 25 quick as the spool empties and the reel potentially cannot handle that for long as the run continues due to lower manufacturing quality (theoretically).
 

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This is a very interesting thread.

Moral of story is to stop the fish quick if you can. It would also be interesting to see how much better a reel with fresh drag grease performs verses one that hasn't been regreased for several months. I usually regrease my washers every 2-3 trips and have never had an issue with my drags, but they never have been put to the test of a marlin.

Thank goodness for line drag. That compensates for a lot of the drag loss from heat. Too bad we can't measure the drag pressure while stripping line underwater. Perhaps Mr. Bill can design some kind of scale attached to a remote controlled submarine.
 

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This is a very interesting thread.

Moral of story is to stop the fish quick if you can. It would also be interesting to see how much better a reel with fresh drag grease performs verses one that hasn't been regreased for several months. I usually regrease my washers every 2-3 trips and have never had an issue with my drags, but they never have been put to the test of a marlin.

Thank goodness for line drag. That compensates for a lot of the drag loss from heat. Too bad we can't measure the drag pressure while stripping line underwater. Perhaps Mr. Bill can design some kind of scale attached to a remote controlled submarine.


This has me scratching my head. Why would it matter whether the line stripped from the reel is above water or under water? I could simply have someone hold my rod while I drive my 4-wheeler a given distance at a predetermined speed and then using a digital scale check the drag at that time and compare it to the original setting and also measure the temperature of the spool before and after. The problem here is that we know with less line on the reel the drag pressure should increase and if it in fact does, how would we determine whether we had lost some drag efficiency. What do I mean? Well let's say the drag pressure was @ 25# before I started running the 4-wheeler and after I run it a premeasured 100 yds the drag pressure now measures 35#. Would it have read even higher if There was no heat build up in the spool? Would it have been 40# instead. There is no way to tell unless the spool temp remains constant during the test. I doubt if pouring water over the reel as the line was pulled out could stabilize the temperature. It would probably lower it but since the Stella has a sealed drag system you could only lower the outside temperature not the temperature of the metal washers in the drag system.
 

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Randy Bassinga
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This has me scratching my head. Why would it matter whether the line stripped from the reel is above water or under water? I could simply have someone hold my rod while I drive my 4-wheeler a given distance at a predetermined speed and then using a digital scale check the drag at that time and compare it to the original setting and also measure the temperature of the spool before and after. The problem here is that we know with less line on the reel the drag pressure should increase and if it in fact does, how would we determine whether we had lost some drag efficiency. What do I mean? Well let's say the drag pressure was @ 25# before I started running the 4-wheeler and after I run it a premeasured 100 yds the drag pressure now measures 35#. Would it have read even higher if There was no heat build up in the spool? Would it have been 40# instead. There is no way to tell unless the spool temp remains constant during the test. I doubt if pouring water over the reel as the line was pulled out could stabilize the temperature. It would probably lower it but since the Stella has a sealed drag system you could only lower the outside temperature not the temperature of the metal washers in the drag system.

Because water pressure on the line can also have a drag type effect on the fish and can be a bad thing too. Say one was fishing the stunt class like 4kg line on tuna. With a 100s of meters of line out, were the fish to arc, the water pressure can pop the line even if there was bugger all drag on the reel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
There are a lot of what-ifs that can be considered. And any tool can be used outside its intended application (removing screws with a butter knife). Still, the Everol photo shows just how a Conventional reel should be expected to perform. And with a spinning reel, the drag increases 2X to 3X as line is pulled off the spool. Can you overheat a drag and change this basic operation, sure, but that's not what its designed to do and counting on "brake fade" to counter drag build-up as the spool diameter shrinks is a certain way to get broken-off.

The Max Drag spec, is designed as a bottom of spool number. But then most drags were designed for monofilament, meaning there wasn't as much line on the reel, the drag built quickly as the line was taken, and the line wasn't that strong (compared to braid). On my Stella 20000 FA, the highest line strength listed on the spool is 30# mono, 325 yards. I run 100 lb. ABS braid and have 450 yards capacity. At my usual 20 lbs. initial-drag, I'm running the reel at its design-maximum drag all the time. (And those of you who start with 30 lbs. on a reel whose maximum drag is 30 lbs. are running at a 2X to 3X overload from the start. Nothing wrong with that if you know it.)

Many reels have decent "brake pads" (carbon fiber, withstanding heat fairly well). The primary reason for heat failure in a fishing reel drag is the size of the metal washer(s). They have almost no mass and little thermal capacity. As a result, the temperature gets into the hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit range quickly. (Car disc brakes on the other hand have small pads but large rotors.)

Drags with more thermal mass (I didn't say heavier) and better heat dissipation can be designed. Genuine innovation in drag fade resistance and constant drag pressure systems won't happen until there is truth-in-labeling and greater awareness. Until then, we'll be buying reels that say Max Drag 44 lbs. (meaning Max Initial Drag 16 lbs.) and wondering why they burn up when used at 20 lbs. initial drag. And unlike Everol who is being clear, they'll just replace the drag cap when it melts and say sorry (Saragosa). In the meantime, innovators like Mr. Bill's friends will be wisely dumping buckets of seawater on their reels.
 

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Genuine innovation in drag fade resistance and constant drag pressure systems won't happen until there is truth-in-labeling and greater awareness.



Pamet,

Agreed. 100%. On the truth in labelling...

There is another piece of physics involved with this topic. If a conventional Int 50 is set for X pounds at strike with a full reel, it takes longer (clock time) to build up to it's maximum drag (smallest possible spool diameter) due to the fact it holds more line (line diamter being equal) and has a larger circumference than the smaller Stella 20,000's....

Bottom line, the "brakes" on a Int 50 don't need to be as "strong" to create X pounds of drag as they need to be on a Stella 20,000 due to the larger circumference of the fully packed spool.

Also, the heat will build much quicker on a Stella for two reasons. First the metal drag plates are smaller and don't dissapate heat as effectively as the larger disks in the Int 50. Secondly, the Stella's fully packed circumference is smaller to begin with. So the drag pressure and the heat build up on a steeper curve than on the Int 50.

Perhaps, someone with better math skills than I have can explain it better....

Mike
 

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Wannabe Tuna Fisherman
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This has me scratching my head. Why would it matter whether the line stripped from the reel is above water or under water? I could simply have someone hold my rod while I drive my 4-wheeler a given distance at a predetermined speed and then using a digital scale check the drag at that time and compare it to the original setting and also measure the temperature of the spool before and after. The problem here is that we know with less line on the reel the drag pressure should increase and if it in fact does, how would we determine whether we had lost some drag efficiency. What do I mean? Well let's say the drag pressure was @ 25# before I started running the 4-wheeler and after I run it a premeasured 100 yds the drag pressure now measures 35#. Would it have read even higher if There was no heat build up in the spool? Would it have been 40# instead. There is no way to tell unless the spool temp remains constant during the test. I doubt if pouring water over the reel as the line was pulled out could stabilize the temperature. It would probably lower it but since the Stella has a sealed drag system you could only lower the outside temperature not the temperature of the metal washers in the drag system.

Put a dowel in your drill and pull off half of the spool under no/minimal drag. Then test. Pull the rest of the line off and test at empty spool. Maybe I will try this with my 50W. Sounds like a long test though. Then the real proof will be the same test except with the drag set. So...
Full spool/cold drag=
Half spool/cold drag=
Empty spool/cold drag=
Full spool/hot drag=
Half spool/hot drag=
Empty spool/hot drag=

I believe Avet did this testing when everyone was saying they needed to grease their drag like everyone else. They found the dry drag was more consistent even after long runs IIRC so they continue to not grease their carbon fiber.
 
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