Understanding the Drag System


Your Zebco spincast or spinning reel has a built-in “drag” system that helps you control the fish and keep your line from snapping. Understanding how best to set the amount of drag your reel has is key to the performance of the reel, and could be the difference between landing the fish and losing it.

On most of our spincast reels the amount of applied drag is adjusted with a dial on top of the reel. Some spincast reels, and most all baitcast reels, may use a star-shaped dial on the handle of the reel, and spinning reels usually have a dial on the front of the spool. It’s important for you to get familiar with how to set the drag on your particular style of reel.

The drag system allows line to be pulled from the reel under pressure, while the handle is stationary, for two important reasons: 1) Allowing the hooked fish to swim against the pressure of the drag will tire it out and make it easier to reel it in; 2) If you happen to hook a fish, or something else, that is heavier than the specified strength of the line, the drag will help to keep the line from breaking.

Before you first use your reel, take the time to make sure the drag is properly set. It’s recommended that the amount of drag pressure be equal between 1/3 and 1/2 of the line’s test strength. For example, if you are using 10-pound test line, set the drag at around 4 pounds of pressure. We understand that most people don’t carry a scale to check this to perfect accuracy, so a good way to start is to turn the dial up (add pressure) until you feel tension on the knob, then back it off a couple of turns. As you fish, you may find the need to increase or decrease the tension depending on your personal preference.

Also recommended is that you never fish with the drag system completely tightened or completely loosened. Too much drag is the number one reason that line breaks when reeling in a fish, and when there is no drag pressure the reel simply will not pull the fish in.

You will get the most out of your Zebco reel when you take the time to properly set your drag each time you go fishing. The drag system is a durable mechanism in the reel and will last quite a long time, even if you fish every day. Understanding the importance of the drag, and using it as it is intended also makes for some great action!