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Dana Sturn on Dean River Chinooks and Medieval Drag

Posted on August 17 2009

This chinook fell prey to Medieval Drag.
Photo: Dana Sturn


Dana Sturn founded speypages.com, and let’s just say Dana’s been around the block as it relates to anadromous angling. Dana had the opportunity to hook some chinooks at BC West this year, and as a result he’s written this piece for us on Medieval Drag.

Thanks Dana!

Medieval Drag

No matter how skilled, clever or experienced you think you are, a big Dean River Chinook or two can make you feel like a rookie all over again. When I felt the bump-bump and the heavy weight 80 feet out I thought “could be a steelhead”, but when line started leaving the reel at a frightening pace I realized I was attached to another kind of beastie entirely. The chinook crashed the surface several times, then headed upriver and kept going…and going…and going…

Later on the bank as I reeled in what seemed like a mile of line, a fellow angler provided some sage advice. “You need to really tighten down that drag,” he told me. “Dana Protti says you need a Medieval Drag setting on these fish.”

Dana Protti? I know him. He and Parker Jefferson are friends of mine. But what’s this Medieval Drag stuff?

This reel is capable of doling out Medieval Drag.
Photo: Dana Sturn

Dana and Parker have been subjecting themselves to the thrill and agony that characterizes Dean River Chinook flyfishing for years. Collectively they’ve been hooked into more of these wild and savage monsters than anyone else I know. It turns out they have a Dean River Ritual they go through every time a Chinook is hooked. As Parker explains,

“Dana came up with the term and we’ve been using it up here for years. ‘Medieval Drag’ is used only on fish that have Good Girth, which is What You Want and is always the first thing that must be assessed after hookup. ‘Good Girth, it’s what you want’ is often the refrain heard after a Good Girth Assessment is made and the drag is then set to Medieval. I think ‘Medieval Drag’ originates from the scene in Pulp Fiction where Wallace told Butch he was going to ‘get Medieval on their asses’, referring to the guys that had held him hostage in the basement. The mind wanders in many strange directions when you are in the moment on the Dean.”

When you’re on the Dean in early July you quickly realize that these fish demand serious tackle. Saltwater grade reels with powerful disc drags that tighten down to Medieval. Miles of backing. Tons of luck. And the Dean River Ritual.

More Guest Posts on BC West and the Dean River

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