While most people ask me questions about where I fish and when, very few quiz me on tackle maintenance and gear performance yet this is one of the biggest players in getting that fish to the boat. As a fishing charter operator, I simply cannot afford to have clients lose big fish for avoidable reasons. Big fish captures are what I rely on to keep me in business and as such I am very particular about the gear I use and ensuring it is kept in tip top shape.
Surprisingly, some clients come along on charter with their favourite rod and reel which is fine, but my heart skips a beat when I check their drag tension and the drag is sticky and jerky. I have seen it time and again.
If the drag is sticky, there is a high probability you will lose a big fish. Hell, on some days I have to work really hard to get fish to bite and the last thing I want is to straighten or snap hooks or have them pull out over failure to conduct simple drag maintenance.
For those of you who have not caught a big barra, they don’t always take big runs, but they are explosive at the start. And of course the powerful head shakes and jumps will straighten hooks if the drag is not as smooth as silk. And although we still managed to land the fish, the photo above shows a straightened hook even with a silky smooth drag. Just goes to show the power of a big barra! The fish that did the damage was a 107cm and we were lucky that the rear treble was wedged in well otherwise we would have lost her.
Of course the biggest sticky drag failure is generally line breakage. A sticky drag puts so much additional pressure on the line right when the fish is taking a run that it invariably snaps before the spool can spin.
So what is simple drag maintenance? I generally tend to service my reels every 20 to 30 usages, especially in the past when I was running older technology. These days I don’t have to do it quite so frequently (despite my beautiful fiancee assisting me with wash down some afternoons and blasting them full bore with the fire hose I love you darling), due to the new waterproof capabilities of some of these newer reels.
Seriously, the more care you take washing them, the less time you will need to spend maintaining them and I suggest just a light spray or a sponge with soapy water is all you need and avoids pushing water into places it is not meant to go.
In this short video I explain how I keep my reels in tip top shape and how a silky smooth drag should look and how to test yours. I will follow this up in a week or two with a demo of exactly how to service your own drags, however if you are not that way inclined just take them down to your local tackle shop and they will sort them out for you.
Of course for those of you in the market for a new reel, you might want to look at the Quantum Cabo’s mentioned in the video. The waterproof drag on these things is amazing and I have not had to service them once in 7 months. Those of you who follow our facebook page will know we have had our share of downpours since the season opened and I could not be happier with the way these reels have held up through the wet.
Well that’s it for me today. In our next post I’ll show you exactly how I service my own drags because after 30 years I have it pretty much down to a fine art hehe.