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Tighten-up Drag!

Tuning finesse drag system into tournament, powerful drag system

I've noticed the drag systems of recent light spinning reels work great for thin mono lines, but they tend to have less capacity for PE braid lines. Those drags are designed for 4-10lb test, and if I use 4lb-diameter 15lb braid, it surely is in short of drag capacity.

Here we will study several drag systems and explain how to upgrade, and put more capacity in your light, finesse reel.

Spool supprt: for high end spinning reels, ball bearings are installed at spool shaft for smooth, even drag operation. Daiwa installs two ball bearings, and Shimano install one ball bearing. Inexpensive reels have only plastic washier on it. Unless we change spool and main shaft, we cannot upgrade the support from normal to ball bearing system.

 Daiwa Tournament Z: 2 ball bearings at spool support

 Shimano Biomaster: Plastic washier at spool support

Drag washer material: most reels are installed with felt washers and metal plates. For some high end saltwater reels, carbon washers are installed. They are durable, and last on heat. Teflon washer has smooth slips, and gasket-like washer will add more friction and put more drag capacity, though they will have less adjustability range.

Carbon drag washers of Stella SW

 Gasket type washer from B-Trap (for ABU casting reels)

Drag system: if the drag of your reel has only one or two felt washer installed, you may upgrade it to have up to 3 times drag capacity by installing a few washers and a metal plate.

Bellow are drag systems of Tournament Z 2000iA, Biomaster 2000 and Daiwa TD-X 2500iA.  The drag of Biomaster and TD-X each has one friction surface.  Instead, the drag of Tournament Z has 3 felt washer, and has 3 friction surface, and if the area is the same, it will have 3 times drag capacity.


 Multi surface drag of Daiwa Tournament Z


 Single surface drag of Shimano Biomaster

 Single surface drag of Daiwa TD-X 2500iA

Which drag system is in your reel?

 Multi surface

 Single surface


 Stella, TwinPower/Sustain

 Low-end to Biomaster/Stradic


 All Tournament series reels, Cardia (2003new), Fremes (2003new), all Emblem reels, all Regal reels, Procaser, Triforce, 

 Saltiga, TD-X and S (both 4000-6000),

 US TD reels

Daiwa: Japan model

TD-Z, X and S (1500-2500), Silver Creek (trout reel), TD-Ignis (2003New), 


Tuning up!

Easy tune-up of Shimano single surface drag.

You may double the capacity of Shimano reels by inserting a washer and changing washer order. Cut out a drag washer from gasket (you will find it at automobile parts shop), or card board (here I used package of lure) in the same shape as felt washer (white). Place the washers in the order from bottom, hand-made washer, metal plate with rectangle hole, original felt washer, metal plate with stopper, and clip. The original order is shown at left, and tune-up order is right at following photos.

Original: left to right, bottom to up


By adding one friction washer and changing the order of washers, now the Biomaster has 2 times drag capacity. Please remember, by changing order, drag knob will receive torque when drag slips, and might change the drag settings. Also the drag knob will wear from friction, when drag slips.

Because the drag room is too small to fit more washer for Shimano reels, you may not upgrade them to perfect 3 surface drag.


Tune-up of Daiwa TD reels, single surface drag reels

Installing a spool of Tournament reel is the easiest, because the spool of Tournament reels are interchangeable to TD reels. But the extra spool costs a lot ($60-120). Let's modify the TD-X spool to have multi surface drag for more capacity. Purchase a metal plate with stopper and felt washers (below left). My TD-X is 2500iA, and I purchased these pats of Tournament Z 2500iA. Make sure you buy the washer of reel in the same size. The metal plate need to be fasten to spool, and need 4 holes on spool. TD-X spool doesn't have those holes. Drill 4 holes inside of the spool, as the feet of metal plate will fit into the drilled holes. Check well the dimension of 4 holes, though they may be larger than what is needed and don't be worried even if you need to enlarge a hole.

 Metal plate and 3 felt washer of Tournament reel

 After drilling spool of TD-X2500iA

Insert the washers in the order from bottom, felt, metal plate with rectangle hole, felt, metal plate with stopper, felt, metal cup and clip. The original felt washer has larger diameter for this tuned-up drag. Purchase appropriate ones at the same time you purchase metal plate, or cut them out from other cloth. Don't cut the original drag washer. You might need it when the tuning turned out messy, or later you might use weaker lines again.

TD-X original

Tuned-up drag

Now the new drag has 3 times capacity.

Please check your drag knob, that its edge is lower than edge of spool. If it is above and has gap between knob and spool, as shown in left photo, use thinner drag washer. Or, line will get caught at the gap. The lower the better.


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