Baitcaster Drag Not Working

Baitcaster Drag Not Working

As an angler, you should know the right way to set drag on your baitcaster reels. But things may not go smoothly all the time. What should you do when you notice the baitcaster drag not working? What if it does not hold or slip? Even the best baitcasters can have their hiccups with the drag at first. In this post, we are going to discuss the most common baitcaster reel and drag performance issues.

Understanding Drag Adjustment

The drag is a pair of plates and they are housed inside a fishing reel. Pulling of a fish causes friction of the plates, and this friction makes the reels rotate. As a result, the line gets out, without breaking. Before you start fishing, the drag should be set on a fishing reel. You may find it a bit hard to adjust when you are fishing. Understanding drag adjustment is of utmost importance. The drag is not meant to be adjusted when you are fishing. It can lead to damage. By learning the right way to set the drag, you can avoid line breaks while fishing.

Setting Drag on Reels 

Use your hand to test the drag before you set the drag on a reel. If the line is not tight enough, tighten the drag. Just find the button for front drag adjustment and turn it several clicks to the right. And if it is too tight, loosen the drag by turning the adjustment button several clicks to the left. This adjustment mechanism is better with closed face models. If the accurate judgment of the force is not easy, consider using a spring scale. Fish handling devices such as Boca Grips use these types of small scales. Before you hook the weight, make sure your rod is held at a 45-degree angle. The drag setting should be fairly accurate. Before moving, the line should hold about 1/3 of the weight. Make sure the line is not too tight. You will not find it hard to fight a fish if the line is a bit loose. The same rule applies when you are setting your drag on a baitcaster reel. There is only one difference: the adjustment reel is located at a different place. It depends on the model of the reel. The drag mechanism on a baitcaster reel is usually located near the reel. To loosen the drag, turn left. To tighten it, turn right. If you are not using monofilament, do not use your hands when you are testing the drag. It is better to use a pencil or fishing pliers to do it. You may get hurt if you try to do it with your fingers.

Bail Spring

Spinning reels have internal bail springs and they often cause mechanical failures. When the bail does not flip back open, probably something has happened to the bail springs. The damage can be caused by long-term use, or just impact. It should also be noted here that the damage can also be caused by the bail wire. So, before you disassemble the reel, make sure you have checked if the external side of the wire has bent. It is very easy to replace bail springs. The process of replacement can be a bit complicated with an older model reel. Talk to a reel repair expert if you find it hard to understand the mechanism. Finding an expert is not hard at all. Just go to a local fishing shop and talk to the people.

Damaged Paw

In a baitcaster reel, the paw is something that collects dirt. It gets corroded pretty easily. If the paw keeps collecting dirt, it will get damaged over time. Things are not smooth when rust and dirt attacks. However, resolving the issue is pretty simple. You just have to remove the dirt and grit. This is a challenging problem, and it can be quite challenging to make a corroded part clean. For the best results, make sure this part is always clean. Remember, prevention is better than cure.

Old Bearings

Over time, bearings wear out. Old bearings are often responsible for your baitcaster drag not working. For this problem, the worst culprits are dirt and grit. This is a common problem when the reel is submerged most of the time. Casting and reeling are directly affected by low-performing bearings. There are high-performing bearings and you can consider using them when you upgrade the bearings. But what should you do when the bearings do not move smoothly? Luckily, there is an easy solution to the problem. Just take off the bearings and soak them in a metal cleaner. The dirt will be removed as the bearings de-grease. This is an easy and inexpensive way to fix the issue.


The performance of a baitcaster drag is also dependent on whether the reel is corroded. Prolonged exposure to saltwater can have a damaging effect. If the equipment is not cleaned regularly, they can get permanently damaged. Even if the problem does not get so bad, corrosion is a common cause of baitcaster drag not working. You will have to replace the reel if there is too much damage. Use a toothbrush to clean the level wind. After fishing in saltwater, do not forget to rinse the reels.

Over Lubrication 

Not lubricating the reel is bad, but over-lubricating is also bad. Too much lubrication can cause the bearings to clog. And if that happens, you will not be able to turn the handle. Use warm water to clean up the bearings. To remove the dirt, you can use a brush. Do not go to the extreme when you are lubricating the reel. Read the manufacturer’s directions before you make an attempt to fix the issue.

Broken Level Wind

Another essential part of your baitcaster drag is level wind. In the long run, it can gather dirt and grit. It can clog the moving parts and stop the spool. In some cases, it can break but remain unnoticed.

Line Slippage

Braided lines are easily available because they are popular. Braided lines are durable, but they are prone to getting tangled. You may encounter this problem if you are an inexperienced angler. For the best performance, you may need some experience with braided line. It takes a little bit of practice. To fix the issue, you can use some backing as a grip. Wrap the spool base with some monofilament line. You can also use electrical tape to do it. Both of these options are great for providing backing.

Line Size 

Choosing the right size reel is a precondition for great performance.  Choose the line according to the recommendations of the manufacturer. When you notice your baitcaster drag not working, check if you have chosen the right size of the line. The line must be a good fit for the reel. The wrong size line can certainly inhibit performance.   Things will go smoothly if you are sure that you are not choosing too heavy a line.


baitcaster with a backlash You will find things annoying if the fishing line gets tangled or twisted. Baitcast can lead to tangled or twisted lines. If you are not an experienced angler, line distribution will also be an issue. When lure spins are submerged in water, you may have to deal with line twists. Once you get good at the process, you will enjoy castings more. When a backlash is the cause of your baitcaster drag not working, you can easily find a solution to the problem. Unwinding the old line to solve the issue. Applying new line is a better solution to the problem.  You can do it manually or use a professional machine.

Worn Out Reel Parts.

Over time, your baitcasting reel will get tired and exhausted. Wearing out is a Common problem for baitcaster reels. It can be a result of overuse, or it can happen without any particular reason. Casting will not be possible once the parts are badly worn out. The easiest way to resolve the issue is to replace the parts. Upgrading the internal parts can also be an answer to the problem. Once you have upgraded the mechanics, you can expect to use it for a long time.


Baitcaster drag not working is one of the most common problems anglers have to deal with. However, you can easily resolve the issue if you can find the root cause. We have discussed the most common problems, and hopefully, the discussions have helped you better understand the mechanism. If you have a different issue, check out How To Tune a Baitcaster. As always, good luck and happy fishing!