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How are you going to know which of the fly reel drag systems is best for trout? If you are learning the fly fishing basics for trout, the answer is easy.
If you are fly fishing for steelhead it is a different story. Learn about fly reel drag systems for steelhead.
First let's look at what a drag system does. The drag is simply a way to apply pressure to a running trout. A brake. It also keeps the line from freewheeling and causing a bird nest.
This is the most traditional and basic of all fly reel systems. It has a simple spring-loaded metal clip (a pawl) that runs against a toothed gear. It is the most common drag system for trout fly fishing reels. You can hear the clicking of the pawl when the line is pulled out.
The advantages of the spring and pawl drag
The disadvantages of the spring and pawl drag
Most disc drag systems are overkill for the average trout reel. The gear-wheel system, however, is a disc system that is also used in trout reels. Its smaller disc brake pads are hidden behind the adjusting lever and are near the outside of the frame.
The advantages of the gear-wheel drag system
The disadvantages of the gear-wheel drag system:
The average trout fly reel will use the spring and pawl drag system. However, the gear-wheel system is also used in some trout fly reels. They are a step up from the spring and pawl so they are worth a look. It then just becomes a basic budget question.