Q I have a very expensive fly reel with a cork ring for the drag. I don’t want to mention the reel’s name because it is supposed to be a good one. For some time, the drag has been sticking. On my last trip, it would not slip at all. When I got home, I took the spool off and found that a portion of the cork drag washer had fastened itself to the bottom of the spool and torn loose. I am going to send the reel back to the manufacturer for repair, but what can I do to prevent this from happening again?
The fault lies with you, not the manufacturer. Almost all drag washers are soft, and when you tighten the adjustment knob, they compress slightly. That’s how you get drag tension. You should never screw down the adjustment nut to apply pressure to the cork or other soft drag washer, and then not release that pressure at the end of the day. If you store the reel for an extended period with the drag screwed down tightly, you will eventually ruin the softness of the drag by squeezing it so tightly that the washer hardens. Secondly, if the drag is stored under pressure for a long period of time, you can force a portion of the washers to adhere to the inner face of the spool. Then, when the spool is removed, you tear a portion of the washer from its original surface.