Super Tuning a reel is a process of polishing the fiction points allowing smooth and efficient casting. The Super Tuning process also applies to the drag system on most baitcasting reels. Drag Super Tuning will prevent fishing lines from breaking, hooks from tearing free, and equipment failure by creating a smooth release of line while fighting a large fish.
A drag system’s worst enemy is storing it with tension applied. The pressure during storage causes the drag washers to become flattened and deformed, leading to damage when used. When storing, the combination of a tightened drag and moisture within a reel causes corrosion. Flat and damaged drag washers, or corroded drive gear surfaces makes the drag system “sticky”. The “sticky” drag causes an uneven release of line.
What is Drag Super Tuning
Drag Super Tuning is the process of polishing the drag’s metal surfaces to a mirror like finish. This mirror finish along with a clean drag washer provides the smoothest possible release of drag from the reel. When a large fish takes drag, the line will leave the spool in a smooth constant motion until the drag pressure exceeds the pulling capabilities of the fish.
Drag Super Tuning prevents the jerky movements during a fishes run from the boat. The inconsistent zip zip zip release of line causes extra stress on the line, knot, and terminal hardware. In contrast, a Super Tuned drag will release line in one smooth motion. The same tension is applied through the entire overpowering of the drag system. The jerky movements are removed preventing surge damage to your tackle.
Drag Super Tuning is not intended to increase a drag’s capabilities; it just allows for a very smooth and efficient drag. If increasing the drag systems power (i.e. The poundage required to engage the drag) is desired, replacing drag washers can increase the drag’s capabilities depending on size and type; however, the amount is usually minimal.
Drag System Washer Types
Carbontex replacement drag washers, one of the best on the market and what I recommend as a replacement, are very smooth and extremely durable. In some cases, the Carbontex drag washers have increased the drag capability of a reel. Carbontex washers withstand abuse much better than stock drag washers and are a great addition to Drag Super Tuning.
Dartainium drag washers, used in many Shimano reels, are very smooth when everything is clean and corrosion free. However, lack of cleaning, corrosion or extended compression from leaving the drag tight when the reel is in storage, cause these drag washers to become brittle and sticky very quickly.
Greased standard cloth washers, common in most reels, can take more abuse. However, cloth washers fall victim to the same issues as dartainium washers over time. Cloth washers hold moisture longer and quickly create corrosion problems.
Leather washers are not used by many reel manufacturers anymore. I do find a few of them in the lower end reels from various manufacturers. I highly recommend replacing these right away. Leather naturally does not slip well and over time glues itself to the drive gear.
Most out of the box reel drag systems work well. Over time, or if abused, the drag system will need attention to keep them running smooth and trouble free. A Drag Super Tune with an upgraded drag washer is the perfect way to ensure the reel will perform flawlessly when fighting the fish of a lifetime.