IFish Fishing Forum banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

143 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ifish Edition
September 2004

Clutches and Drags

There are a wide variety of ways to disengage the gears on a baitcasting reel. Generally, to cast you need to disengage the gears from one another allowing the spool to spin freely for casting (hence the term “freespool”).

One of the older style, yet highly effective method for achieving freespool is to use a large spring attached to a flip-style lever. The lever rotates a slider that lifts the pinion gear away from the main gear, allowing the spool to turn freely. This system is found in old style Penns such as Senators, 309, 209 et al. It is also found in the Shimano TR series reels, among many others including some Daiwa slh reels.

The spring is generally the weak point here. It is often forced (never force!) in one direction or the other and can break or turn into a pretzel quickly.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this design. Just don’t push or pull unless your reel agrees to go along with it.

Another common type of clutch design is used in Ambassadeurs. These are clever little reels that work well and allow you to effortlessly push a button or thumb bar and away you go. They even engage the gears again when you start reeling. But they have a few parts that can muck up the whole works if any one of them is slightly out of spec or worn.

A further common reason for a clutch failure is weak return springs. A weak return spring often results in a failure of the plunger lever (or thumb bar) to return to position when reeling.

There are other designs, most of which are similar functionally but due to packaging are more complex and entertaining to diagnose. We’ll leave those for another article.

The rule is, if you think your drag washers are bad, they were probably gone long ago.


There. I’ve said it. Okay, I am referring mainly to Abu Garcia in this case. Their washers need to be dry as a bleached piece of driftwood in the desert. The problem is that the reels tend to be overgreased at the factory, and as sooooon and you start spiiiiiinning the handle and plaaaaaaying around with the reel, the grease has made it’s way to the drag washers and their geese are cooked.

This is a main reason that some people have gone sour on their Ambassadeurs and switched to a different reel. It’s a shame because they have so many other great qualities that make them worthwhile to have in a person’s arsenal.

Other kinds of contamination abound. Eventually, most washers will become contaminated with grease, oil, water, rust, or a combination thereof. That should’n’t be a problem until the end of the season at which time you’ll get your drag washers changed out at your yearly service, right?

Wearing out of drag washers is the _studly_ way to ruin them.:bowdown:
Of course I mean wearing them out on actual fish, not the log that you snagged a hundred yards back that had you fooled it was a 45 pounder, right? And certainly not snagged on the bottom when you were halibut fishing, bravely helping to hold the boat in place against the current so your buddies could stay in the honey hole.
Toasted on a 50 pounder!

Your drags will eventually wear for one reason or another. Without a teardown the obvious symptoms are a rough, uneven takeoff and inability to stay buttoned down at a consistent pressure. Usually a herky-jerky drag is contaminated rather than worm but the end result is the same: replacement.

We are running a bit long this month, so I’ll postpone the segment on gears and anti-reverse problems for the next article. Remember if you have a need for the finest in fishing reel service or repair, visit the web site at
www.reelmeister.com or shoot us an email at [email protected]

Thanks for reading. Comments as always are welcome.


Entire Contents of This Article Copyright©2004 ReelMeister.com/Al Chirinian All Rights Reserved. Reproduction or redistribution by any means is strictly prohibited without written permission from the author.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.