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Thread: Drag setting for surf fishing

  1. #1
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    Drag setting for surf fishing

    Summer vacation is 2 months off...just started getting excited now that the weather has improved up here and ive been able to fish a few times.

    While many of you are likely finding alternatives to the pier lately, I had a surf fishing question for you regarding proper drag setting technique. This is mainly in regards to larger setups for bull reds and sharks.

    My typical strategy is to tighten my drag while cast to avoid the line slipping and slicing my fingers, then I loosen it almost all the way for spiking the rod in a PVC rod holder. Then I typically go cast lures while baits soak. Once a fish takes the bait I will tighten the drag to fighting level and set the hook. I have been doing it this way for years because I've had instances where a fish pulled my rods out of the spike because the drag was still engaged and I was too far away to react. Fortunately, no gear has been lost.

    All that said, my assumption is that having the drag set off/very low when spiking it may be missing some hook sets as the fish feels slight pressure and spits the hook rather than the tension of a tight line/drag setting the hook as the fish picks up the bait and swims off.

    So what's your preference? Leave the drag engaged for better hookups but risk the rod getting pulled in? Loosen drag so your rod is spared from the big fish, but maybe miss some hook sets? Somewhere inbetween?
    flatfish likes this.

  2. #2
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    A circle hook does not need to be "set", I use Kahle hooks and the sinker helps hook them. You are better leaving the drag low as a lost rod & reel or sand in a reel is a bad event. I also use a large rubber mallet to put the PVC rod holders deep.
    fordguy and Haywire like this.

  3. #3
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    Matt, as you noted, the fish (sharks especially) tend to feel the resistance of a light drag setting and may drop the bait before the hook gets in their mouth.
    For that type of fishing you might want to consider conventional reels with a clicker, or the big spinning reels with the 'bait runner' feature. There is a LOT less line tension the fish may feel until it's too late for him ;-)
    fordguy likes this.

  4. #4
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    My limited experience in the surf has led me to loosening the drag as much as possible. Years ago I tried leaving the drag set after loosening up just a bit post cast- but like you I ended up chasing the rod when it was pulled out of the spike. I like Pier #er's suggestion of the reels with the dual drag bait runner feature, but I try to keep my surf reels inexpensive (sometimes laughably so). If I were the only one to use a shimano baitrunner, and I could make sure it was appropriately cared for, I'd probably pony up the $$ for one.
    Haywire likes this.

  5. #5
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    My experience concurs with the other opinions you have received. Use circle or Kahle hooks, which will be set by the weight you use when the fish tries to swim off with your bait. I generally use 2 - 4 oz. weights, so if a fish is large enough to move the weight, he can run until I tighten the drag. If it is a little hardhead or whiting that can't move the weight, it won't peel line anyway, and is just a nuisance making the rod tip jiggle. A big drum, red, shark, or stingray will definitely take off with your bait and get hooked with minimal drag.

  6. #6
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    Circle hooks, weights only enough to offset the current, PVC deep enough for one to exert a little elbow grease, and if you're as fortunate as I have your grandson chase the reel. After all, at four and one half years he's tinkering with them anyway.
    Tight lines all!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordguy View Post
    If I were the only one to use a shimano baitrunner, and I could make sure it was appropriately cared for, I'd probably pony up the $$ for one.
    Just found one up here in unused condition,shimano Thunnus CI4 Spinning reel
    plus a shimano tzs72ml terez spinning rod
    in unused condition
    Bill..............

 

 

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