Best Rear Drag Big River Barbel Reel?

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I know front drags are smoother and better, unfortunately I tried a front drag reel the last couple of seasons and lost too many fish. Because I’ve used rear drags for 35 years my muscle memory is such that mid-fight with a powerful fish my hand instinctively goes to adjust the rear of the reel to slacken or tighten the drag – that’s a fancy way of saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! By the time I realise my mistake and faff around trying to adjust the front drag the fish is lost.

I’m looking for the best (i.e. smoothest drag) rear drag baitrunner currently available. I fish mainly the Ribble and often cast to the far bank so have stepped up from my old Shimano 5000 GTE to 6000 sized reels and it’s really improved my casting distance and accuracy. I’ve googled a bit and most forums just say get a front drag they are better. I found a post that suggested the old Shimano XTEA baitrunner had a smoother rear drag than other Shimano rear drag baitrunners? But this is no longer available new and I’d prefer a new reel. Does anyone know if the newer replacement for the XTEA, the Shimano XT RB, has a similarly smooth drag when compared to the cheaper ST and DL models or are they all the same?

I like Shimanos, although their baitrunner drags get bad reviews, but would consider other makes as long as they have a freespool option, rear drag and a large enough spool to enable accurate distance casting.

All suggestions, other than learn how to use a front drag, welcome, thanks.
 

mikench

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Try a pin and use your thumb! I am still learning how to use one but I have landed near double figure carp using one and believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!

Obviously not suitable for casting heavy feeders long distances but the Ribble isn't exactly the Trent!

Ps . You can partially set your front drag before you even start fishing and fine tune it when a fish is on!
 

tigger

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You dont need a reel any bigger than a shimano 5010 or a 5000gte (which are still the best runner imo) to fish on the ribble. If its a new reel your after take a look at the shimano XAero reel in the 4000 size, ok a front drag reel but very easy to operate and if your slow on the draw when it comes to adjusting the front drag just slow the spool with your finger, I often do that and leave the drag as is anyhow.
Regarding the front drag reels being better than rear drag reels, imo thats bo!!ox :).
 

lutra

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Tigger is spot on right, set your drag on the light side then leave it alone, just use your finger on the spool. Just like with a centrepin you can lock down as hard as you want and if the fish bolts you can lift your finger off faster than the fish can pull your rod tip down and snap you. Way better than playing around with the drag while playing a fish, front or rear drag.

ps. I find I'm much more likely to over cast with bigger reels in the dark on the Ribble. Not good when your fishing tight to the far bank.
 
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Thanks for the replies. I should have probably clarified in my original post that, although I don't post online much, I have been fishing for Barbel for 20 years and I do set the drag each time I start fishing and use finger pressure to control the fight – hundreds of barbel taught me the hard way. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to alter the drag mid-fight and I prefer a rear drag for that, although I know the remote rear mechanism and resultant gearing means rear drags are not as smooth as front where you directly adjust the drag. I own a Shimano Super GT RD 2500 and agree it’s a lovely reel for the price. I wouldn’t have hesitated to use it when I used to fish the Great Ouse, I do prefer using lighter balanced tackle where possible. I often fish a wide stretch of the Ribble where the fish occupy a narrow channel close to the far bank. Although other more skilled casters than I may be able to accurately cast with smaller spools, when I stepped up to a larger reel I found my casting accuracy greatly improved and I was able to use lighter, more balanced end tackle which I prefer.

However the thread wasn’t about reel size and the original question stands. Regardless of size, what is the best rear drag baitrunner/freespool reel money can buy new?
 
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dave m

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Daniel, i use a aero 6010 for my barbel fishing on the ribble and find the drag just fine.
What rod and mainline are you using?
It could be that a more pokey/tippy rod isnt as forgiving so you become more worried about the smoothness of the drag.
 

mickb

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Top of the range shimano I guess. I had the 5000 xtea which used to be top of the range a few years back and the rear drag was fantastic but the reel was too heavy for my liking. I now use 5000 re.
 
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My rod is a 1.75lb through action Harrison Blank, soft and forgiving as I don’t like stiff or tippy rods, mainline GR60 mono. I only noticed how jerky my old Shimano rear drag reels were when I tried a Wychwood Solace front drag free spool last year. Far smoother clutch but I don’t like the front drag. My Shimanos are getting on for 20 years old, so that might be part of the problem.

I’m wondering whether it’s worth splashing out on a top end Shimano XT model and whether these do have better clutches than the cheaper ST and DL models? After reading this thread and many others what I need is a Shimano X Aero RA 5000. Larger spool for casting, top end clutch and spec, rear drag and baitrunner. It’s perfect. Only one problem, they don’t exist. The smallest size in this model is 6000 (which are just as big as the 8000 and 10000). I don’t want to risk second hand to chase an old 5000 XTEA.

Thanks again for all the help, I’m even considering adapting my tiny Shimano Super 2500 GT-RD as a roaming reel and using the fighting drag as a baitrunner. Anyone tried this with a fighting drag reel such as the old Shimano Stradics?
 

mikench

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I have a couple of Diawa Emcast 3500 reels and they are excellent with a superb front drag! I also have a Shimano X Aero 4000( They are all baitrunners) which has a similar drag but which is lighter! This latter reel has spool reducers which I use as I have neither desire nor need to cast to infinity! If i want to be close to the opposite bank I walk round!
 

flightliner

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Mitchell 300, finger behind the external revolving drum when other hand is holding the landing net and there is a danger of a few power dives-- other than that being a backwinder I dont need anything more sophisticated.
 

Jim Crosskey 2

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David, one other option that's definitely worth throwing out is getting your old reels serviced. You might find that this will restore those drags (or in some cases, improve them). I would google Felindre Innovations, get in touch with them and tell them what the issue is and ask them what they'd do to restore/ improve the reels. They might quote something like £30 per reel, quite a bit of money but nothing like the £100+ you will be splashing out per new reel.
 

hague01

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My own view, having gone thro all the rear drag shimano's is that the XT-RB followed by the Biomaster RA's beat the stradics by a mile.I have a new model stradic c14+ 2500 which i regret buying and will happily sell/exchange when i find a bio for sale.That doesn't help your search as none of my recommendations can be bought new now but just try the new stradics to see if you like them.To me they lock up like a cheap rod, but maybe I am asking too much of them..
 
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