Setting your drag correctly using scales results in more fish caught and in the boat

Set your drag correctly and catch bigger fish

One of the biggest differences between anglers that consistently catch big fish and anglers that don’t is preparation, preparation, preparation.

Setting your drag correctly is often overlooked, yet it is one of the primary reasons people lose big fish.

A good rule of thumb is to set your drag at under one third the breaking strain of the line.

Because there are all sorts of variables that come into play when fighting a big fish, which put additional strain on the line and cause it to break.

For example, if a big fish runs 150-200 metres taking line, there will be less line on your spool and the drag will actually be tighter (less line comes off with each turn of the spool).

It will also result in a smoking hot drag which can also effect the drag tension, plus if the fish runs super fast it puts additional pressure on the line.

When attached to the fish of a lifetime, you want to be sure your reel is 100% and your drag is set at one third the breaking strain of the line.

When attached to the fish of a lifetime, you want to be sure your reel is 100% and your drag is set at less than one third the breaking strain of the line.

When all hell breaks loose and your gear holds out... this is what happens...

Good preparation is required to land massive barramundi over 1 metre long.

Hooking and landing a monster fish all comes down to how well your gear handles the strain.

Now unless you're a competition angler using super light line, you don't need to get too bogged down in the details.

To account for all the variables, simply set your drag at a little less than one third the breaking strain of the line.

I show you how to do this using a set of scales in the following video.


Of course if your drag is not silky smooth, it adds additional pressure.

Click through to our previous posts for more fishing reel tips and tricks.

How to: Service your drag washers.

How to: Use a spinning reel correctly and avoid line twist

Reel Review: Fin-Nor Lethal

How to: Catch More Fish in Less Time

How to: Catch Mackerel



Barra Basics student with big fish catch of barramundi

Barra Basics student Andrew Haratsis with Ryan and a lovely big barramundi

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About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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  • Brian Gethins

    Reply Reply April 19, 2020

    Hey Ryan.great video mate.very well explained as always.any chance you can tell me what brand of scales that was you used and where I could purchase the same pair.thanks.Brian-0402284968

  • Jason

    Reply Reply January 12, 2017

    Cheers mate a great lesson. What about fishing around structure? Usually i have my drag pretty tight to avoid snaging but run the risk of snapping,any thoughts?

    • Ryan Moody

      Reply Reply February 8, 2017

      Hi Jason, I tend not to fish too much around snags if I can help it.

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