2 Ways To Set The Drag On Your Spinning Reel (With & Without A Scale)


If the drag isn’t set correctly on your fishing reel, you could be missing out on fish.

If it’s set too high, a strong run or head shake from a fish could break it because there’s no give.

Also, some fish like trout and snook have thin mouths, and the pressure from the line may rip the hook out of it’s set too high.

On the other hand, if your drag is too light, you could get spooled, or get a weak hook set (which makes it easy for a fish to spit your hook).

So how do you set the drag just right?

In this video, I’ll show you two ways to set it correctly:

  1. With a scale
  2. Without a scale

Check it out below.

How To Set Your Spinning Reel Drag [VIDEO]

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Your drag should be set at 20-30% of the breaking strength of your line.

For example, if you’re using 10 lb. line, you should set the scale at 2-3 lbs.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Get a spring scale (like this one from Amazon)
  2. Tie your mainline to the scale
  3. Pull it to measure the force required to engage your drag
  4. Adjust the drag so that it falls between 20-30% of the breaking strength of your line

Now, what if you don’t have a scale?

Well, if you’re using 10 lb. braid, like I am, then take note of how the line pressed into my hand when I pulled on it.

When it was too light, it barely made any indentation, and when it was too heavy, I had to strain and it felt like it was about to cut my hand.

When it was around 2-3 lbs. it made a slight indentation on my hand, so look for that same indentation on your hand when you pull on the line.

If you’re using a different strength line, first, set the drag correctly with a scale, then, take note of how the line looks in your hand and how much pressure it takes to engage the drag.

Moving forward, remembering that pressure will help you set the line pretty accurately when there’s no scale around.


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Setting your drag correctly is super important, as it could be the difference between landing a fish, or losing a fish.

Have any questions about setting your drag?

Let us know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who needs to learn how to correctly set their drag, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Arto Van grondelle
7 months ago

excellent, useful info that i was wondering about. many thanks 👍👍

1 year ago

I just tried this with my Penn SSVI5500, loaded with 30lb braid. 20% would be 6lbs of drag, which seems very excessive…so much so that I could not pull the line with my hand. Can’t imagine what 30% would be like. The reel is relatively new, so mechanically, it functions perfectly. I tested it without the reel on the rod.

1 year ago

Thanks Wyatt! Was wondering what the big deal was on drag. Learned plenty.

1 year ago

So really, there’s just one way. Measure it with a scale or if you don’t have one, just guess. Also, walk off a cliff if you are thinking of using a weight. Sorry so salty, but this is every site out there and I’d really just like to know if using a weight will actually work. I get it, everyone thinks its a dumb idea but no one ever gets to the WHY its dumb. I grew up fishing in FL. NO ONE WEIGHS FISH. Tourists buy scales. Relatives will give you one for your birthday. My crowd will bean you with an empty beer can if you use one. Where’s my wife’s dumbells?

Willie Dickerson
2 years ago

Thanks Wyatt. I been asking for this video. I did not know it was out there.

Michael Band
2 years ago

Is indentating a word?

Brandon Waldroup
3 years ago

Great information Wyatt, just to verify I’m using Fuego 2500 reel with 20 lb power pro so I should have my drag set around 5-6 lbs? Is that correct? Lmk please, thank you!

Roland Courtois
3 years ago

Wyatt, thank you for the useful tip. I was wondering whether the drag setting should be dependent on the fish rather than the lb test of the line : if 3lbs of resistance will put a hole in a snook’s mouth, should you not set your drag at 2 lbs even if you are using 20 lb test line ?

George Layton
3 years ago

Great info Wyatt, thanks !!!

Victor Gatell Jr
3 years ago

Hey Wyatt, is there a difference by using the entire rod to apply pressure on the scale? Just like when a fish is on


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