Drag Test Results

Extra Comments not in the Magazine

Outdoor Life Online Editor

DRAG TEST RESULTS
**Will The Reels Work For Your Fishing? **
Drag tests help determine the suitability of a reel for your particular fishing as well as how well the reels are likely to hold up over time.

Testing did not consist simply of tightening drag to maximum, cranking up line speed to fast, and then seeing how long the reel would run. Through a complex series of protocols the reels were analyzed based on manufacturer's intended use. If a reel was designed for trout fishing it was important to learn if the drag system easily operated within 15 to 25 percent of line break strength (usually 4- to 6-pound test). We determined if the reel had low start-up force and whether it could handle an occasional run of a hundred feet at 10-feet per second, typical of a large rainbow trout.

With other reels that are designed to run harder we determined how heat affected long-term performance and whether drag increased over time or increased with speed of the spool as line is removed. We wanted to know if drag forces faded with use or increased temperature. For bass reels we wanted to know if when cranked down the drag would truly haul a fish from heavy cover. It was only after static drag, dynamic drag and range of drag were established that three runs at 2, 4 and 6 mph were performed. The drag of each reel was adjusted to perform within 25 percent of maximum line breaking strength for which the reel was rated. Here's a condensation of what we found.

SPINNING REELS
Abu Garcia Cardinal 602
This small reel performed well in the operational range for which it was intended-up to 10-lb. test line. The spool was wobbly but surprisingly created only slight line roller effect operated within its intended range. The line roller is at the base of the spool rather than the top (all other reels). This makes the bail harder to close by turning the crank. A good reel for trout, stream smallmouth. Max dynamic drag, 4.0 pounds.

Abu Garcia Cardinal 104
Not a reel for fast running, large fish but okay for light general duty. The drag knob loosened as the drag was run, slipping in the opposite direction of spool rotation. The wobbly spindle bushing lacks a supporting race. This could be partially why line loads lopsided onto the spool. Max dynamic drag, 5.25 pounds.

Daiwa Capricorn CA2500
The reel performed best at speeds of two mph and drag pressure up to three pounds. The drag would perform well using lines from six to eight pound test. A good reel for average size fish or bass fishing. The drag had good low start-up forces. At higher 6 mph speeds the drag showed early fade then slight increase near end of the run. Max dynamic drag, 5.3 pounds.

Daiwa Ondine ON2500
An excellent small reel that performed very well within intended range with up to 10-pound test line. While drag materials replicate the larger Capricorn (above) our test Ondine's drag was smoother. There was slight fade at faster spool speeds and increased temperature but not enough to cause problems.

Eagle Claw XG630
Use this reel in situations that don't demand any significant line runoff against the drag. The test model came lacking a bottom felt washer between the spool and lower stainless steel washer. Only grease kept the metal washer from eroding the aluminum spool. There was considerable line roller effect at speeds of four mph and/or drag settings above two-three pounds. Max dynamic drag, 5.3 pounds.

Mitchell 308X
An excellent reel if operated within intended light fishing range. Good for trout, smallmouth bass and others in fresh water. Under pressure the one-way bearing allowed slow back rotation but this may have been unique to our test reel. It did not occur with the 308X Gold (below). Max dynamic drag, 3.75 pounds.

Mitchell 3X Gold
An excellent reel for up to six-pound-test line. Only at higher drag settings did it exhibit slight, typical impregnated felt drag fading. This would be a great reel for trout, stream smallmouth or just fun, everyday fishing. Max dynamic drag, 4 pounds.

Penn Slammer 360
A remarkably stable reel. There were no small drag seizures throughout the testing. The spool is well stabilized using a long race between spool arbor and shaft. The reel is capable of high drag settings (it uses a single large carbon fiber washer) that continue to slip (not lock down) and an angler must use care not to adjust to an over-drag setting for the line being used. Max dynamic drag, 5.5 pounds.

Penn Power Graph III PG2000
The reel seems best suited for heavy fresh water use on fish that will take minimal line against the drag, and not at high speeds. The dry Teflon washers gave somewhat sticky response. The line loaded in a double convex shape on the spool and the one-way bearing of the test model slipped a couple of times during testing. Max dynamic drag, 5.25 pounds.

Pflueger Solara 5740
For an impregnated felt drag system this reel should give good results even for light salt-water fishing. There were somewhat elevated start-up forces at higher spool speeds only. The spool is well supported by a long race over the slightly smaller diameter spindle. The race is aluminum running against stainless steel so must be well maintained. Max dynamic drag, 5.25 pounds.

Shakespeare Intrepid 4335
This reel drag has a lot going for it. The long spool/spindle race produces great spool stability and probably saves it from line roller effect. There is modest increase in drag at higher speeds. Overall a good reel for open water fishing used within intended range for 10-pound-test line. Max dynamic drag, 5 pounds.

Shimano Stella 5000FA
A great reel for open water fishing. Anglers must take in account the slight increase in drag when running cool or at slower speeds, with slight fading (typical of carbon fiber drags) as speed and temperature increase. But this little fade does not increase and the reel runs steadily at fast line take-out. Max dynamic drag, 5.5 pounds.

Shimano Spheros SP4000FA
Happily the reel showed little to no line-roller effect. Drag differences of nearly 2 pounds might be observed during a long fish fight with large fast-running fish-large redfish, stripers or bonefish. At the upper end of drag adjustment the amount of drag decreased slightly. Max dynamic drag, 5 pounds.

Shimano Stradic ST1000MgF
This reel had a nicely performing drag and anglers should find the drag easy to adjust and use. The reel is designed for low drag forces and light lines, operating well within those parameters. Excellent performance was observed as spool speed increased. This would be a great reel for trout, stream fishing and average open water fishing. Max dynamic drag, to 2.4 pounds.

Tica SA2500
The reel had a very nicely performing drag system with perhaps more drag than needed for the line capacity. It easily performs within the intended range of lines. With a high dynamic drag adjustment index an angler needs to take care not to over tighten when increasing past 2 pounds of pressure. Max dynamic drag, to 5.7 pounds.

Tica SP3000
An excellently performing reel in intended range for lines to 12-pound test. At higher settings there was a slight increase in start-up forces and a minor tendency to fade at high speeds. Should be fine for open water fishing if you adjust the drag slowly at higher settings. Max dynamic drag, 5.5 pounds.

Tica SD 3059
The reel works well as intended though the dual drag is somewhat complex to adjust. Without using the secondary rear drag max drag is about 2.5 pounds. The rear drag can boost that to more than 4 pounds. The spool is somewhat noisy at high speeds and slightly wobbly. The reel should perform well in open water on fish that can be controlled using 12-pound line and about 2.5 to 3 pounds of drag. Max dynamic drag range to 4.4 lbs.

Zebco Genesis 30
A beginner can use this reel for panfish and small bass if drag is not an issue and no real drag function is expected

SPINNING REELS SUPPLIED WITH COMBO OUTFITS
Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Spinning (Reel: TSS20F)
Using 6-pound-test line, this reel will get by for variety freshwater fishing. The drag knob is difficult to access and you don't want to get into situations with large, fast-running fish as the reel washers are likely to wear quickly-at least our test reels showed aluminum wear as well as felt washer frizz. Max dynamic drag, 2.75 pounds.

Pinnacle Deadbolt DL40
You can use this reel on panfish, smaller pike, and small bass where you don't need running drag capability. Actually the Teflon/felt drag system itself performs very well. However, the line roller assembly fits too closely to the spool (about 0.150 vs. 0.250 for most reels). This resulted in the line roller making contact with the spool under 3 pounds of drag pressure. A smaller spool diameter might solve the problem. Max dynamic drag to 4.7 pounds.

BAITCAST REELS
Abu Garcia 3006HS
A good one for bass fishing, not open water running fish because of high start-up drag forces and moderate to high levelwind effect. Max dynamic drag to 6 pounds.

Abu Garcia Morrum IVCB
With it's excellent casting characteristics the reel was obviously meant for bass fishing and will best serve with the drag cranked down to max. Building drag forces as line goes out coupled with high levelwind effect will likely make for an unpleasant experience if used on long-running fish. Max dynamic drag, 5 pounds.

Cabela's Prodigy PR 200
There's a nice low start-up drag on this one. It'll work for long running fish if fade at higher speed doesn't result in an under-dragged situation. Bass, walleyes and average pike would certainly present no problem. If long-running fish have taken enough line so that the spool arbor begins to show, there's the danger of your line being cut off. That's because the multiple weight-reducing holes in the spool are not chamfered (beveled). They have sharp edges. And, it's important to adjust this drag from the minimum setting, up. Reducing drag from a higher setting, down produces far different settings. Max dynamic drag, 6 pounds.

Daiwa Super Tuned TD-X103HSDF
The drag itself seems quite reliable on this reel. It is, however, difficult to set consistently. This would be a problem if you need2.5 pounds. The rear drag can boost that to more than 4 pounds. The spool is somewhat noisy at high speeds and slightly wobbly. The reel should perform well in open water on fish that can be controlled using 12-pound line and about 2.5 to 3 pounds of drag. Max dynamic drag range to 4.4 lbs.

Zebco Genesis 30
A beginner can use this reel for panfish and small bass if drag is not an issue and no real drag function is expected

SPINNING REELS SUPPLIED WITH COMBO OUTFITS
Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Spinning (Reel: TSS20F)
Using 6-pound-test line, this reel will get by for variety freshwater fishing. The drag knob is difficult to access and you don't want to get into situations with large, fast-running fish as the reel washers are likely to wear quickly-at least our test reels showed aluminum wear as well as felt washer frizz. Max dynamic drag, 2.75 pounds.

Pinnacle Deadbolt DL40
You can use this reel on panfish, smaller pike, and small bass where you don't need running drag capability. Actually the Teflon/felt drag system itself performs very well. However, the line roller assembly fits too closely to the spool (about 0.150 vs. 0.250 for most reels). This resulted in the line roller making contact with the spool under 3 pounds of drag pressure. A smaller spool diameter might solve the problem. Max dynamic drag to 4.7 pounds.

BAITCAST REELS
Abu Garcia 3006HS
A good one for bass fishing, not open water running fish because of high start-up drag forces and moderate to high levelwind effect. Max dynamic drag to 6 pounds.

Abu Garcia Morrum IVCB
With it's excellent casting characteristics the reel was obviously meant for bass fishing and will best serve with the drag cranked down to max. Building drag forces as line goes out coupled with high levelwind effect will likely make for an unpleasant experience if used on long-running fish. Max dynamic drag, 5 pounds.

Cabela's Prodigy PR 200
There's a nice low start-up drag on this one. It'll work for long running fish if fade at higher speed doesn't result in an under-dragged situation. Bass, walleyes and average pike would certainly present no problem. If long-running fish have taken enough line so that the spool arbor begins to show, there's the danger of your line being cut off. That's because the multiple weight-reducing holes in the spool are not chamfered (beveled). They have sharp edges. And, it's important to adjust this drag from the minimum setting, up. Reducing drag from a higher setting, down produces far different settings. Max dynamic drag, 6 pounds.

Daiwa Super Tuned TD-X103HSDF
The drag itself seems quite reliable on this reel. It is, however, difficult to set consistently. This would be a problem if you need