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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It wasn't to long ago that if you had a set of 30 or 50 international type reels you would set the drags in values of approx. 12- 20 lbs or slightly higher. Conversations I have had with mechanics from Penn Reels have stood by the design scheme that a 30=30 lb test, and a 50= 50 lb test, therefore, in their view, drag settings of 10-17 lb.s + or - were appropriate.
We all know how it went down, people started using 60, 80 lb test on, these reels, and in trying to 'squeeze blood out of a stone' overtaxed the drags to a point that if it were too much drag, no freespool, and it took a good repairman to modify the drags to allow both high drag and free spool.
Now, over the past few years the drag ability has evolved to a point that most offshore reels now have increased drag pressure, and many newer "small, torque style reels" easily produce well over 20 lbs of drag.
Here's a question. With a rod in a fighting belt, how long will the average angler last in a fight with say 20 lbs of drag, 25 lbs etc? At what point is there too much. Has enineering exceeded what we are unlikely to physically handle? How many photos/videos have we seen lately of the guy picking up barbells, buckets of water and other heavy weights, where clearly they are exerting as much strength as they have, and at what point will they tire? Does the arguement of "pace yourself" hold any water?
 

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I have held 40 to 50#'s for a short time. Had and 80 and wanted to go bawls out. No harness, (Not how i roll) only a gimbel and the rod. It was a large BF and I when he was running I pushed her up. It didn't seem to slow him down. However, when he did stop and then started again, UT O. 40 even 50 lbs is not bad to hold once it is going. However, getting it going takes a signifigant more amount of pressure. The rod was literally ripped from my hands, I am about as stout as they come but 40an50#'s is alot, too much? Well I could if I had too, easil;y with a kidney belt, but feel your gonna lose alot more fish. He pulled the hook and was gone as many do at the higher drag settings.
 

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It wasn't to long ago that if you had a set of 30 or 50 international type reels you would set the drags in values of approx. 12- 20 lbs or slightly higher. Conversations I have had with mechanics from Penn Reels have stood by the design scheme that a 30=30 lb test, and a 50= 50 lb test, therefore, in their view, drag settings of 10-17 lb.s + or - were appropriate.
We all know how it went down, people started using 60, 80 lb test on, these reels, and in trying to 'squeeze blood out of a stone' overtaxed the drags to a point that if it were too much drag, no freespool, and it took a good repairman to modify the drags to allow both high drag and free spool.
Now, over the past few years the drag ability has evolved to a point that most offshore reels now have increased drag pressure, and many newer "small, torque style reels" easily produce well over 20 lbs of drag.
Here's a question. With a rod in a fighting belt, how long will the average angler last in a fight with say 20 lbs of drag, 25 lbs etc? At what point is there too much. Has enineering exceeded what we are unlikely to physically handle? How many photos/videos have we seen lately of the guy picking up barbells, buckets of water and other heavy weights, where clearly they are exerting as much strength as they have, and at what point will they tire? Does the arguement of "pace yourself" hold any water?
Kevin with all due respect we are talking about fishermen here! Men that never giive up and have superhuman strengths.They will look you right in the face and tell you they can fight a tuna stand up with 50lbs of drag for hours on end without even giving the thought of handing the rod off to the next superman! Of course i am kidding here,but the reality is 95% of fishermen out there can't handle the drag pressure they think they can in their minds and when they put their ego's aside for one quick minute and realize that its more about technique than it is about raw strength they just made one step closer to becoming better at fighting fish.Through my years of working in the fishing business i know that the big musclebound gorillas that look like they can rip a tree out of the ground with their bare hands are the first ones to beg for mercy and give up usually with a 40-50lb tuna at the end of the line. Yet when i worked on the west coast long range boats i witnessed little out of shape looking fellows whip tuna consistently in the 150-300lb range without even breaking a sweat using their mind and technique(oh and the rail helps) but they knew what their equipment was capable of and one of the biggest parts was that those that did use fighting belts and harnesses they had them properly set up and adjusted to themselves! IMO a fighting belt that isn't correctly set up for that angler will wear them out faster than one would like to think because not only are they fighting the fish but they are also fighting the gear and harness that is now sliding around in the wrong positions.But with the headstrong fishermen that we are it takes a long time to put ego's aside and realize we aren't superhuman and its alot easier to fight that little 70lb tuna with your brain than it is with your muscles.
 

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Pacing yourself will only get you so far. That kind of pressure is on the verge of dangerous in my opinion. I am not a big dude, but can hold 20-30# of drag pretty easily when it comes down to it. However, if you are fighting stand up and strapped with 30-50# of drag any little slip up could be disasterous. I dont care how big or strong your are, but one little slip to throw you off balance will ruin your day if 50# is pulling on you and you arent tied to the boat or someone holding on to you.
 

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When I ran with mixed groups we always followed pretty simple rules.

The crew and qualified anglers without a harness would be good with 15 lbs for the whole fight. 20lbs and higher and the gunnel would start supporting the fight after about 20 minutes.

The general public were never given more than 15 lbs and told to not go over the button. No one was allowed a harness because I'd rather lose a rod than a person at night.

If your all buckled in with good footing I guess you can put an extreme amount of pressure on these fish standing up.

For my purposes the only reels that get more than 30 lbs of drag have a bent butt and chair in their future. Other than that spool em with spectra and let em run.
 

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Your question does not have a strait foward answer. It depends on angler technique in a harness and the type of harness.

Example Dennis Braid. Small Man, Tons of skill, and he took a GBFT On standup Gear with a harness. Most people can not say they could do the same.

Put him next to a pro football player with know fish fighting technique, fighting the same fish, with the same gear, and Braid will kick his *** everytime.

I am 170 lbs in fair shape and have gone 1 hour starting at 22 lbs and ending at 30lbs in a bucket harness

I say it to everyone who straps on a harness for the first time. It is less about your size or muscle and all about the technique. Most people would be surprised how much presure they can put on a fish for a length of time.
 

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20 - 50lbs drag

Technique rather than an overabundance of drag pressure is really the key to besting tough fish w/o killing ones self in the process.
Highly over looked is the rod use exibited by the angler. Even the taper of the rod can make a big differance.
I never maxed drags unless there was something specific in mind ,always aplied a comfortable drag that would relater to the fish at hand, based on wekest line .If I need to apply extra drag I "alwyas" did it by using a gloved hand to apply pressure to the spool when I sense the need.
As previously mentioned excessoive drags can cause problems, just to name a few that I observed over the years, busted harness under a full load caused a hernia, swivels straightened, rod guides bent, hooks pulled ,reel seat failures ,frozen reels.etc.
Drags today are way over what is really required,learn to recognize rod tapers, techniques , proper hareness fittings. One over looked harness is the shoulder harness, great for shaking out those tired arms,however if corrdct techinques is used then you'll feel quite relaxed during the battle .
Why good size tuna are today being taken on spinning outfits is not because of an over abundance of drag, but in fact due to anglers skil with the rod & taper of same! Of course it all has to hold together to come together but you get the idea.
I've landed probably 500 tuna standing up to 300#'s plus , several Gts one all over 500#'s one up, all rest chair. One really beat me up an estimated 400# BE that locking up a drag a might early broke my rod and relased the fish 6' from our FG ! That day I really found out the hard eway about grag ,rod taper,& proper harness fittings, an exhaustic 2 plus hrs of angony in rough seas only to lose a trophy of a lifetime thru inxerpierance the year, 1976.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My guess is around 14-17 lbs as being comfortable. But as some say, comfort or pacing yourself may not be the best options. You cant give the fish too much time to run around.
I like GLSTR's idea, put them in a range that they wont have problems. If more pressure is needed you can always goose it up a bit. And as a few here mentioned a big guy might start crying for his mother if he doesnt have technique. It does take quite a skilled angler to handle the 25 + lbs. As for Braid, he figured it out a long time ago knowing that you can strap in and use your body weight to counterbalance the pressure. But, as mentioned you dont want to take the chance of being yanked over the side.:eek:
 

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I have held 40 to 50#'s for a short time. Had and 80 and wanted to go bawls out. No harness, (Not how i roll) only a gimbel and the rod. It was a large BF and I when he was running I pushed her up. It didn't seem to slow him down. However, when he did stop and then started again, UT O. 40 even 50 lbs is not bad to hold once it is going. However, getting it going takes a signifigant more amount of pressure. The rod was literally ripped from my hands, I am about as stout as they come but 40an50#'s is alot, too much? Well I could if I had too, easil;y with a kidney belt, but feel your gonna lose alot more fish. He pulled the hook and was gone as many do at the higher drag settings.
bear i have to respectfully disagree, holding a rod at 50# of drag during a run for even 5 seconds is extremely difficult and dangerous. two scenarios 1. your going over, 2. your set up is going over.


i have seen with my own eyes boats in morehead with their teak and fiber glass gunnels ripped to shreads, rod holders ripped right out of the boat when fishing with 45+# of drag.

i believe in putting the hard heat to the fish, but this is an accomplished angler strapped in with a properlly fitting kidney or bucket harness.

i dont care if your arnold in his hayday, no one is stand up fighting with 30# of drag not strapped in for a sustained period. ..


just my opinion.
 

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Shouldn't be hard for a grown man to handle 20+lbs of drag for an extended period. Guys up at the cape are doing just that but with 8'+ popping rods and 200lbs of bluefin at the other end! Also, fighting with 20lbs of drag and a clunky "sooo ten years ago" stand up setup is going to be harder than 20lbs of drag with these small, lightweight reels and rods that are light as a feather of today! :)
Not taking anything away from the spin guys (Alot of them are freiends of mine). But fighting a fish on an 8' spinning rod is alot different then fighting the same fish on a 5 1/2' trolling rod with a 50w gold reel. (different Not easier) Also some (not all) of those spin guys catching those 150lb to 200lb tuna are using a harness attached to a lug or strap on the spinning rod forgrip, passing off the rod, or both. One of the well known sharpies out there Is a good friend of mine and he will tell you strait out a fish that is pulling 30lbs of drag off a spinning reel at will, you will not be able to hold on to for very long, and he should know he has landed a few in the 300 lb class on spinning gear. He likes to call them "Demon Fish" :D

Here is a little test for you who think you can. Get your favorite offshore rod (Spinning, Jigging, Trolling, whatever) and tie it to a 30lb dumbell. Then lift the dumbell off the floor using the rod and hold it off the floor for 30 mins. Then just for shits and giggles do it while walking around the room.
 

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bear i have to respectfully disagree, holding a rod at 50# of drag during a run for even 5 seconds is extremely difficult and dangerous. two scenarios 1. your going over, 2. your set up is going over.


i have seen with my own eyes boats in morehead with their teak and fiber glass gunnels ripped to shreads, rod holders ripped right out of the boat when fishing with 45+# of drag.

i believe in putting the hard heat to the fish, but this is an accomplished angler strapped in with a properlly fitting kidney or bucket harness.

i dont care if your arnold in his hayday, no one is stand up fighting with 30# of drag not strapped in for a sustained period. ..


just my opinion.
Zar, we don't disagree. That is my point. I do feel I have the hands of a mason. However, when I "manned up:D" (was just playing as we already had our limit)the rod was ripped from my hands in short time. :eek: Big kick to my pride actually.

I do feel I can handle a fish in the 40 to 50# neighborhood with my kidney harness and my gimble if i had too. But I would also need Ack of my father at the wheel to do it confidently. The small boat with the proper gunnel height makes keeping the proper angle easy.

I would never load a customer with that burden though. That would be completly irresponsible.

I did hold it for about 5 secs and that was all.. Had it been a true giant fish I prolly would have lost the rod as the rip was very quick.

I have been expanding on my skills of the recent years and have been trying some different techniques. It has been going well, as the 68 incher we got on our 30 this year, I beleive had Ack surprised. I think alittle pissed when I started away from the fish but once I ran the boat around and pooned the beast he was alittle shocked at the quickness.. :cool:

What is most important is a properly fitted, high quality gimbal and harness. I have seen the cheap ones, that the rods moves in. They will kill a fisherman quick.

As for durability, I have that. I got a crazy arse 367 Thresher, on a 30 with no harness and a 4 hour fight. Two of us on the boat, and no one touched the rod from the strike till the time I pooned the fish. I just like and feel that unless it is a money fish I prefer to go a bare as I can.. Just what I like.

It makes me no more man and most say it makes me a less smart man, that maybe. But it is what I like.

On my boat we consider angler level and ability and proceed accordingly. By the time I get to reel in a fish I usually am in play mode as fish are already in the boat.

Like the old saying, "hurt and pain is just weakness leaving the body" :) But that is a CC guy speaking... ;)
 

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I think 20-25#'s of drag is more than what most people can handle.

I myself prefer lighter tackle. I would rather fight a big BFT with 20-25#'s of drag on a lighter jigging setup than say a 70vs. At that point, you start to fight the tackle.

A lot of it is good technique. Lighter tackle is more fun, easier to work with, and it doesnt beat you up as much :)

Brian
 

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we start off on the penn int reels around 14-17lbs.. if its a big fish and we want to end it quick such as a bigger shark we will go past strike and just work the fish.. only people who have faught in a harness is allowed to use one... but our sharking crew has all done it.. i am the first to say those big bluefins suck.. if you don't beat them in a few min the meat aint worth crap.. got to fight them hard and fast.. use the boat and power from your gear.. but i have been put to my knees by big tuna and i aint ashamed to say it.. fought some big sharks too that had me hurting after..
 

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We normally fish 18-22 lbs of drag on our boat but not always

We have seen it all on our boat over the years from Dennis Braid to some terminally ill young anglers that we only hope God sees fit to find a cure for. They all fought various size tuna stand-up only and as pointed out with the right tackle and technique they all boated their fish regardless of their size, strength or physical condition. My wife Capt Diana used to be able to boat a nice size Yellowfin or 70-80 lb plus Bluefin in less than 5 minutes stand-up as she copied Marsha Beirman's technique and often put big muscular young bucks to same but that was prior to our 4 grandchildren which has given her a different slant on life the last few years. It is all in the right technique and tackle.
We do put the heat on the tuna on our boat as we release most these days with the present regulations and have seen 150 lb Bluefin boated in less than 3-4 minutes with 30 plus lbs of drag on Shimano Stella’s on Smith rods under 5 foot. Hello Mr. John Flores and his dedicated jigging buddies. I think we fight most tuna and swords at around 18-22 lbs max on most charters these days for the average angler but it is all stand-up mostly. The experienced anglers we go higher with our new jigging tackle as almost 100% of the bigger Bluefin are released. When tuna fishing in large crowds which we do all the time you need to stop the fish from running into other boats lines and running gear so we do put the heat on them as most of the ones we have caught or released the last two years have all been in that 140-180 lb size pretty much. When we fish scallop boats in the dark we always use 80's with 130 lb spectra and 180-200 lb leader and fish at least 26-30 lbs of drag to keep them out of the scallop boats gear which they always seem to run to for some reason and we have to stop them and move away from the scallop boat.

Picture in early post of Josh and one of the four custom JPR rods made for Giant Bluefin Tuna fishing by Paul that we use with 130 class reels. That is Josh on one nice size tuna estimated to be in the 500-600 lb range doing battle from a swivel rod holder this past December. The tuna ran off over 500 yards of line with 45 lbs of drag. A lot of work any way you look at it.

The other picture is one of our dedicated jigging customers doing battle at the Lobster Claw on a 150 lb plus BFT on a 8 foot popping rod on July 28, 2009. On the same trip just minutes after this tuna was hooked up another customer with a state of the art Japenese jigging tackle had a tuna totally spool him in seconds with at least 40 lbs of drag and he could not do anything to come close to stopping that fish. On days like this we do put lots of drag on the tuna so we can get them to the boat and released to swim another day.

One picture is of Paul from JPR Rods with a medium size BFT in the 52-55 inch range caught in 2008 and the other is a nice 100 lb Yellowfin caught by Chris in 2007 at night which took him at least 45-60 minutes with around 16 lbs of drag that night.
 

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How much did that fish end up weighing that you are fighting in the photo? and how many pounds of drag were you fighting it with?
the fish pulled the hook about 30' from the boat, with the heavy drags we use, it is inevitable, we saw the fish twice, but not long enough to hit him with the dart.

estimated 500-600#, had us down pretty deep into the spectra backing on the intial run at 45# of drag, had about 1/4 spool left , but once the fish stretched us out he settled down and i was able to use 40# for the remainder of the fight while capt john worked the sticks.
 

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I can give you some general facts on this one but Josh fought it from start to finish

I may be the only person on board that got a really good look at the fish as I was on the wheel up on the bridge and it came forward real quick down about 12 feet and maybe 15-20 feet from the port stern just beyond harpoon range. It made a quick dash towards the stern and the hook pulled. We fought the tuna at 45 lbs of drag and I do not think we went any higher but Josh was on the rod and he might differ. Capt Mark on the Canyon Runner was right next to us as we were fighting this one and he told me he did not think we did anything wrong but I always second guess myself when we lose one this size. There were only one or two others caught that day by other boats and they went around 105-110 inches so I estimated this one about the same size or around 500 lbs dressed out. It was a good one by Morehead City standards and losing it hurt but that is GBT fishing.
 

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I load my 50w's w/ approx. 500 yd 80lb momoi & set drags at 20%= 16 lbs +/-. You can always dial the drag up as needed, but rarely do. Nearly 1/3 mile of line seems to be plenty. The 30w's are set accordingly with 50lb test.
 
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