(Why the last "Big One" got away)
|Skip at DragensteinTM, the Reel Drag Testing BeastTM|
THE DRAGENSTEINTM PROJECT
What assumptions did you make when you last purchased a new fishing reel? Did you assume that the more you paid the better reel you might get? Did you believe you should be able to turn the crank and test the drag with your fingers to determine if it was a good reel and a good drag? Did you assume that the manufacturer had developed the drag system with space-age science and materials, and thoroughly tested it to make sure it would perform the way you hoped?
We all make assumptions like these, but just how much do we really know about fishing reels? In most cases, all we have to rely on is advertising hype and our basic assumptions, which may not be giving the full picture. The DragensteinTM Project began as an effort to put popular concepts (and mis-conceptions) about fishing reel drags to the test. What could good science say about reel drag performance?
Well, good science was ruthless. While there were a very few reels with drag systems that performed well, most did not. Many were difficult or impossible to accurately adjust, did not run smoothly, or would not perform even minimum testing demands. In addition, many reel drag performance characteristics were discovered that have never been described to date. But, I am ahead of myself here, let’s start at the beginning.
At the outset, the key piece of equipment that was needed was a precision reel drag testing machine. The ICAST Show in Vegas was attende4d and it was a surprise to discover that such machines were virtually non-existent in the fishing reel manufacturing industry. What was needed then was not a machine that would spin a reel on “go fast” with the drag knob cranked down. Instead, this project called for a sensitive instrument that would pick up the nuances; every burp and grind of a reel drag adjusted to very exacting standards. So with a selection of cast-off NASA aerospace parts, and after a few months of work at the mill and lathe, the “thang” sprang to life, so someone said, “like a Frankenstein monster.” With affection, a name was chosen for this new machine; DragensteinTM, the Reel Drag Testing Beast (pronounced Dragen-steen). The DragensteinTM Project had sprung to life.
As soon as line began to flow from reels, establishing standards, protocols, and procedures, data began to literally pour onto the charts. A few weeks later, after the squeaks, squeals, whines, bumps, and smoke had quieted a box-chock-full of charted results set by the desk. What was found was more of the bad, and the . . . you know, than the good. But what was found, and reported here for the first time, has forever changed our views of reel drag performance, and reel performance in general.