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Troutfitter Fly Shop - Syracuse (315) 446-2047 ----- Troutfitter Fly Shop and Inn - Deposit (607) 298-2149

Don’t Touch Dat Drag!

Posted on March 04 2017

Fighting bonefish by Hollis Bennett
Good, now don’t touch that drag.. Photo: Hollis Bennett.

Today we present you with a simple tip when fighting hard fighting fish like bonefish that we were reminded of recently while listening to Deneki guest, Chuck Keller’s, recount of his largest landed bonefish to date.

According to Chuck, during the first blistering run by his trophy fish, Andros South guide, Josie Sands, muttered the words sure to make any angler’s knees start knocking – “That’s a b-i-i-i-g boy!” Like most anglers receiving such news, Chuck began reaching for the drag knob, when Josie sharply exclaimed, “Don’t touch dat drag!” We may, or may not have, omitted a few expletives in this exchange.

Long story short – Chuck listened, Chuck didn’t touch drag, Chuck landed his fish, and thus Chuck had the pleasure of holding a whopping twelve pound bonefish because of it!

Modern fly reels are finely engineered pieces of equipment. Most premium reels can apply the smallest increments of resistance with the slightest amount of startup inertia.. However, regardless of the reel, from our experience, more bonefish are landed with a drag that is set properly beforehand, than by fidgeting with the tension during the fight, for two main reasons:

1. Resistance Increases as Backing Decreases

That’s right, even if you never change your drag setting, as a fish runs deep into your backing, the width of the arbor is decreased, requiring more force to turn the spool. Thus, the further the fish runs, the more resistance is applied to the fish without ever having to adjust the drag knob. Tightening the drag knob as the fish runs can then apply a more abrupt resistance than anticipated, increasing the likelihood of a break-off.

Don’t believe us? Think of it this way – If you were to spin a bicycle wheel with your hand, running your fingers along the outside of the tire would cause the wheel to turn effortlessly. However, if you were to attempt to spin the same wheel by grabbing the spokes in the middle of the tire, it would require far more force to turn. The same is true as the diameter of the arbor decreases as a fish takes line, especially on reels with small or ‘mid’ arbors.

2. Fidgeting Takes Your Eye Off the Ball

We’d go out on a limb to say that during the fight, more fish are lost by poor rod position than by anything else. Being able to see the fish to adjust the appropriate rod angle to eliminate slack and/or avoid obstacles is key to landing bonefish, and taking your eye off the prize long enough to fidget with the drag can end poorly.

Set your drag appropriately beforehand, fight your fish with the resistance you started with, and we think you’ll bring more fish to hand.

More on Fighting Bonefish

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