What is Drag in Fishing? Guide 2021!

The drag is actually very essential for fishing. It helps the anglers to identify if they will able to catch a fish successfully or end up breaking the line. Unfortunately, even some of the professional anglers ignore the drag in fishing. So, the question is, what is drag in fishing? Since most professional anglers ignore this fishing system, so do beginners at fishing must not have an idea about this.

In this blog post, we will explore the true meaning behind drag in fishing and everything about this fishing system. Moreover, also included here is the proper way of setting up a drag system in fishing. Some of the helpful tips are also here for you to consider having a successful catch.

So, just read along with us until the end and let us try to understand the mechanism behind the drag system.

Discovering What is Drag in Fishing

Okay, let’s make it straight to the point. Let us define what is drag in fishing. Usually, inexperienced fishermen ignore the drag most of the time. Maybe, it is because using the drag is not as thrilling as pulling the rod. But, despite that, you need to keep in mind that using drag is also important to take into account when you are fishing.

Also, not adjusting the drag properly will result in a lack of everything in fishing. Moreover, you may also experience the risk of breaking the line. The possibility of breaking the fishing rod may also take place.

So, what is drag in fishing? Usually, there are small plates that come in pair and you can find it inside the reel. These plates commonly help in putting some pressure on the spool and, at the same time, stop it from giving off more lines. That is the drag system and it allows you to get heavy fish on the line without breaking it.

What is drag power in fishing?

Usually, drag power determines how much pressure the plates should exert on the spool. The unit of measurement for drag power generally comes in pounds. Moreover, it is very much important to adjust the drag power right prior to casting the line.

what is drag in fishing

Aside from that, there is also the so-called proper drag tension. However, this topic is not yet clear as there are divided opinions regarding this. For some, higher drag tension may generally give a better result. Meanwhile, others usually go for about 30% as the optimal drag tension. This opinion basically assumes that going slowly and feeling the pull is typically much better.

But, there is also the 1/3 rule that tends to be the more accepted one. Yet, it still highly depends on your personal preference.

The most important thing here is to subject your drag into testing first. That way you will able to determine the convenient one for you. Besides, you are can adjust it and begin fishing right away. Generally, doing it constantly will make this fishing activity an effortless process for you.

What are the Different Types of Drag in Fishing?

To help us deeply understand what is drag in fishing, it is also essential to learn the different types of drag. Check below to know what those are:

*Baitcaster Reel Drag

The bait caster reel is one of the types of drag in fishing that utilizes a spool and trigger handle. Generally, this fishing reel sits just on top of the rod and they are always available in a heavier and stronger unit. One of the great features of the bait caster reel drag is the clicker mechanism. The use of the clicker is to avoid the spool from becoming too crazy.

Aside from that, the clicker usually produces a clicking sound when its work is already starting. Basically, this is a great indication that there is already a fish biting the hook. For most anglers, the clicker feature of the bait caster reel drag is generally beneficial. Moreover, this type of drag in fishing is the most adjustable type.

*Centerpin Reel Drag

Of all the types of drag in fishing, the centerpin reel is the most traditional. For now, the mechanism behind this type of drag is not any more simple. Blockade of the drag requires the angler to hold the line using his hand.

*Fly Reel Drag

Generally, the most common type of drag in fishing is the fly reel drag. This is the one that usually includes a pair of plates as we’ve mentioned above. The variation comes out when the size and design are already at stake.

Take a look at this example – there are some reels that involve sealed plates that are highly applicable for big fish catching. Meanwhile, there are a few that has a click and pawl system. Unlike the first example, the click and pawl system is great for catching smaller fish. Applying extra pressure is actually a big help on this.

*Spincast Reel Drag

Usually, the spin-cast reel drag offers more innovative and extra features on hand. In addition to the reversion prevention mechanism that it has, it also boasts an anti-friction mechanism as well. Operating this type of drag in fishing could never a problem as it comes in a very easy manner. Through that, you can able to catch fish without any hassle.

*Spinning Reel Drag

The difference in the spinning reel drag is that set of gears are included in order to power it. Usually, the drag of the spinning reel is located either on the front or at the back. Large fish-catching requires you to use the front drags because of its durability. On the other hand, the drags at the back help beginners to find drag fishing more convenient. But, for most professional anglers, the drags at the back are not that effective.

How to Set Drag in Fishing

What is drag in fishing? As a recall, it is actually a mechanism in which you can allow the turning of the spool when a particular tension is reached. With that, there will also be pulling off the line from the reel. Moreover, drag in fishing will also act as a screw device depending on the fishing reel model.

Keep in mind that the tighter the setting of the drag in fishing is, the resistance tends to increase when pulling the line connected to the spool. Usually, drag in fishing is set in order to play and tire the fish that is being hooked. That way, the fish is already prepared for netting. Basically, you need to set the drag on a fishing reel using a handheld scale so that the result would be accurate.

Moreover, setting the drag in fishing highly involves a different setup for every type of fishing reel model. One example is the need for manual handling on older models of fishing reels. Newer models generally involve internal mechanism features that may automatically modify them.

Way on Setting the Drag on a Fishing Reel

The following steps below show the correct process of setting up a drag in fishing reel, check it out:

  1. Once you have a rod set up and threaded line over the rod rings, basically tie the line on its loose end. Connect this over the set of handheld scales that can either be a spring balance or digital balance.
  2. Generally, pull down the scales to such a point that the line begins in pulling the reel. Usually, you may observe a 90% angle bend of the rod before you achieve the result. Do this by holding the rod horizontally. You can ask for a help of a friend in holding the rod.
  3. Eventually, read the scale the moment there is a second time of slipping the drag and the line coming off the reel.
  4. Afterward, modify the drag mechanism within the reel based on the scale reading. Make a reading until the drag begins to slip on a 75% to 80% angle in breaking the strain of the line.

Setting Up the Drag on the Spinning Reel

Within the spinning reel, you will notice that the drag is located over the top of the reel. Basically, the way in setting it up is through turning the click wheel in the right direction. That way you will able to tighten the drag. In case you turn it on the other side or to the left, you will generally loosen the drag.

Here is a step-by-step process in setting the drag on a spinning reel:

  1. Initially, pull down the line directly making sure that the line is going through all the rod guides and all the knots are out of the way on the guides.
  2. Tighten the drag if there is an easy pulling of the lines. Meanwhile, loosen the drag if pulling becomes too hard.
  3. Use a small spring balance if you want to modify the force and you think that you cannot able to follow the process accurately all by yourself.

Levering the Drag into the Conventional Reel

Generally, setting up a drag should be made on a specific number between 1/4 to 1/3 of the breaking strength of the line. In case you will be using a 40-pound braid, the setting of the drag will be made between 10 and 13 pounds within a strike.

Actually, star drags are drags having a star-like shape. This typically offers great control over the drag in fishing. Once you use a star drag and it is already set, you cannot tighten or loosen it. Or else, you will opt to start over again and find the correct setting.

On the other hand, the lever drags involve a lever that moves in between the strike and the full setting. This generally provides an internal stop that modifies a few pounds as changing the gears is done.

Check here for the appropriate steps in setting the drag on a conventional reel:

  1. Basically, use a spring balance to get an accurate result.
  2. Make a rod and reel set up over the guides within the line.
  3. Once reaching the end of the line, generally produce a loop.
  4. In order to begin, place a drag on the reel and hook the balance within the line. Pull down the line and observe the farthest you can go.
  5. In case your line weighs about 40 pounds and has a scale of 8 pounds, eventually loosen the drag until you reach down into 10 to 30 pounds. Actually, this is the recommended setting for a line of 40 pounds.
  6. Repeat the steps several times to ensure consistency. Do not touch the drag controller once you already have the desired setting of the drag. If accidentally touched, you may have to change it anyway.


Setting up the drag initially means that you are doing so on a set having a full spool of line. Generally, catching a big fish may result in half the pulling off the spool. This will actually change the dynamics of the drag in fishing. Aside from that, it will also set your drag to a higher amount.

Basically, if you began within 10 to 13 pounds, you are required to be on about 20 to 26 pounds. This is highly applicable once the fish you get pulls half of your line. Moreover, you will basically risk breaking the line if you will lose the drag and try to make it back into a comfortable setting of 10 to 13 pounds.


If you want to successfully set up your drag in fishing, consider doing the following tips as it may be of big help.

what is drag in fishing
  • In case you face a battle between a fish, a heavier action rod is a big help as it will elevate the pressure. Generally, setting up the drag may seem that it is quite higher compared to the parabolic rod having a medium tip and slightly bending backbone.
  • Setting up the drag in fishing basically needs the consideration of the line type. For example, braided lines do not stretch out as same as the monofilament type.
  • The fishing rod is comparable to a spring under pressure especially when there is a fish on it. Kinetic energy usually works on it once it is loaded. It generally acts on giving pressure to the fish beneath the reel’s drag which is more favorable on your end. Right after the bent part of the rod, the pressure will be taken off and transfer over the fish.
  • Having a faster tip and slower backbone will generally result in a better bending of the rod. This is actually more forgiving to the angler and more and more pressure is transferred onto the fish. On the other hand, a slower and less forgiving rod will transfer more heat to the angler and not to the fish.
  • Fishing in a standing position with a heavier action rod may highly transfer lots of pressure over the fish. This is due to the fact that the fishing rod does not bend, unlike the lighter ones. So, better to always remember that when you set up your drag in fishing.

Final Thoughts

If you are going to ask what is drag in fishing, you will generally determine that it will help you to successfully catch a fish. Basically, drag or a drag system in fishing acts to prevent the breaking of lines while fishing. Knowing how to properly adjust the drag in fishing is generally a big plus. Keep in mind that each drag type involves its own adjustment setting that is usually easy to figure out.

So, don’t forget the drag in your next fishing adventure. And, for sure, you will highly enjoy its importance.