Clutch or backwind

mikench

Well-known member
I have a few reels all of which from memory have a backwind facility. However I have never used it when playing a fish and only rarely when releasing line when rebaiting. I automatically go to the drag, fighting drag on a few Shimano reels and would never start backwinding.

Am I missing out on a better technique either for all occasions or just a few and if the latter which circumstances would justify its use?
 

nottskev

Well-known member
In the days pre-carp, and with many unlikely to encounter a barbel, backwinding was the norm for match anglers and most of us fishing for small to medium size fish. For a long chunk of my fishing life, I'd have a drag set to reduce the chance of cracking off on the strike with very light line and a fish a bit bigger than normal, or one that was moving in the opposite direction as you struck, but everything else was dealt with by backwinding. That's still largely what I prefer.

With bigger fish - all the carp around these days, and plenty of big barbel in some waters - it's a different picture, and the drag is more useful with fish that run hard or fight more stubbornly near the net and need more heavy-handed playing. I pay a lot more attention to setting, adjusting and using the drag, but backwinding still plays a part.

I'm guessing some anglers use their drag a lot more than I do. For instance, some are happy with reels that can't be backwound, and that's a no-no for me. And many say how much better drags are these days, whereas I've never had problems with reel drags in the past or felt especially impressed by the progress claimed. ( Although I do like the Shimano Fightin' Drag system)

Perhaps it's also true ,although this is just an idea, that some anglers are more "technicist" than others, setting and adjusting their drags minutely by x numbers of clicks and making full use of their high-spec reels; others, and I'm probably one, go more with a "good-enough" drag, and rely on feel and a combination of backwinding and drag and finger pressure on the turning spool.

I don't have any fs reels with no backwind, but I do use cf reels with no drag.

I expect there'll be some very different answers, according to species and fishing style.
 

John Keane

Well-known member
I have a few reels all of which from memory have a backwind facility. However I have never used it when playing a fish and only rarely when releasing line when rebaiting. I automatically go to the drag, fighting drag on a few Shimano reels and would never start backwinding.

Am I missing out on a better technique either for all occasions or just a few and if the latter which circumstances would justify its use?
Don’t all fixed spool reels have a backwinding facility, you just flip the anti-reverse off? I tend to buy decent reels with front drags and use the drag for what it’s designed for. If I was using the vintage gear beloved of some anglers, like Ambidexes, etc then I’d definitely be backwinding as the drags are cack.
 

Krang

Well-known member
I use the drag all the time. I suppose I should try back winding when I'm trotting lures downstream but leaving the bail arm open works perfectly well. When playing fish back winding must surely make a break off more likely as reacting to a sudden tug must be slower than the automatic reaction of the drag?
 

steve2

Well-known member
I use both methods mainly because I started fishing at a time when reels were not that good. I remember the front drag on Mitchells would jam up and I went over to rear drag.
Now all the reels I have bought over the last 10 or so years my preference is for front drag over rear. I find them easier to use and set.
 

rich66

Well-known member
I very very rarely backwind, I now always set my clutch on the light side and just use my finger to give extra pressure if required. I much prefer FD reels to RD.
 

wetthrough

Well-known member
I do both but that's largely due to me not being quick enough to switch the backwind off or underestimating the size of the fish. That's not to say it's the best way, horses for courses. I'm not comfortable putting a lot of pressure on fish but it does lose me fish in snaggy situations as you know. In theory using the drag can induce line twist but if you're not having problems, stick with what you know. That said I don't think I've ever heard your drag going!
 

markg

Well-known member
I always back-wind, just cannot get on with those drag systems, they can fail sometimes. back winding is instant, never fails, and as I do it all the time I can feel when its about right, how much etc, adjust speedily as I go along with whatever the fish is doing and I am playing the fish relying on me and not engineering to do the job, not that I am bothered by that; just feel I have more control. Mind you, it might be different if I was angling for really big fish like carp or catfish, I can see where back winding might not work or be enough.
 
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nottskev

Well-known member
I blame tiddlers for that or blanking.:rolleyes:
Too modest, Mike - you catch a few good ones. I think the drag/backwind issue might have changed a bit in recent times. Not necessarily because reels are different. More that fishing has changed. I'm guessing that a general angler, fishing here and there with a few commercials or similar amongst their venues, might be spooling their reel up with 4-6lb lines (I even hear 8lb mentioned) and using proportionate hooklengths. The bigger fish merit heavier line, and the smaller species, perhaps refelecting the very different environment of heavy stocking, seem more tolerant of heavier gear.

When I started fishing, for many years my reels were spooled with lines between 1.5lb and 2.6lb. Hooklengths were frequently 1lb or 1.5lb. Even for trips to Ireland, where you planned to bag up with big catches of roach and bream, with some tench, I'd have 3lb or 4lb Maxima on the reels. I think that made you approach your fishing with a lot of care to avoid breakages, striking, playing or landing fish, and people developed - just like Markg posted - a very sensitive touch/feel for using the reel, and the backwinding was the most responsive way to go.
 

Keith M

Well-known member
I haven’t used the backwind for playing fish since the 1970s and 1980s when clutches were a little suspect to say the least; although I did suffer from a few sore knuckles whenever a larger fish decided to go for a run.

Nowerdays I rarely (if ever) use my backwind as clutches have got a hell of a lot more reliable these days.

For small fish and finer lines I prefer to use a front drag; as I find front drags allow finer adjustments due to their larger drag washers, however for larger fish and lines of around 5lb-ish and upwards I usually use rear drag reels as to me they seem a bit easier to adjust during the fight, as I can often find myself changing my drag setting several times during a long fight with a heavy fish.

Keith
 
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sam vimes

Well-known member
Horses for courses. I use centrepins a lot and, with only one notable exception, they don't have any kind of fish playing drag system. I have closed face reels with drag systems that are no use whatsoever and one with no drag system at all. I also have a reel with no option to backwind. I have front drag reels, rear drag reels, rear drag with Fightin' Drag and even Tri-Drag reels (front, rear and Fightin' Drag in one reel).

I may occasionally disengage an anti-reverse when necessary, but I tend to avoid buying reels with drags so poor that I'm forced into backwinding. I've not used, or bought, a reel with such a bad drag in over twenty years. However, I can well understand the need to backwind for those that the method became ingrained due to using such reels and those that insist on still using such reels.
 

barbelboi

Well-known member
I'm with Keith. The clutch on a decent f/s reel is so good that there is no need to back wind (in virtually all conditions) unless you're still using a 301...............:rolleyes:
 

rayner

Well-known member
When I fished the Trent back winding was the norm. Roach was my main target, the main reason was that the clutch on reels back then was total garbage. It was nigh on impossible to set the clutch for the lines I used, mostly 1lb reel lines were normally 3lb. By far the easiest way to play a fish was to back wind.
These days fishing far heavier than back then the clutch is the easy way. hook lengths now are .12 with reel line 4lb for float fishing. fishing now for me is easy to manage with the heavier lines and bigger hooks to balance the clutch, clutches are a big stride better than they were back in my river days. Commercials don't need the fineness that river roach did.
 

nottskev

Well-known member
I don't remember the drags on reels being as bad as some say, but even now, when I've got plenty of reels with good drags, I like to use backwinding as part of the mix. I don't know what others find, but the drag setting that's right for the moments after hooking a decent fish on a long line is not ideal when the fish is on a short line and you're trying to get it to the net. Of course, you can adjust your drag, and I do - as I said I really like the Shimano system for that -, and you can pull line off it yourself if you've wound in more than you should have etc, but I still find that backwinding suits me better than the drag. Maybe I'm kidding myself that brain and hands work better than a machine for some things, but it feels like that to me.
 

rayner

Well-known member
I do remember how bad they were, or perhaps I'm just heavy handed.
I wouldn't I don't think to be able to back wind now with confidence. I'm quite used to fishing off the clutch now, I do set it quite soft to prevent hook pulls near the net.
Had it not been forced on me to stay away from the river I'm sure I would still be back winding even with the superior clutch that reels have now. If I was fit I would still back wind on a commercial. If I fished one.
 

bracket

Well-known member
Spent my first fifteen years of angling fishing the centre pin, then made the permanent switch to Fixed Spool/Close Faced reels. All my reels have the clutch tightened up solid and I backwind. Seems the most natural way of playing a fish when you are in control Pete.
 

John Keane

Well-known member
Spent my first fifteen years of angling fishing the centre pin, then made the permanent switch to Fixed Spool/Close Faced reels. All my reels have the clutch tightened up solid and I backwind. Seems the most natural way of playing a fish when you are in control Pete.
My dad bought me my first fishing outfit from the Grattan catalogue for one and six a week on the drip. It had a 9ft rod with bottom 2 sections bamboo cane and a lancewood tip. The reel was a centrepin - The Bijou and you couldn’t trot with it as it rotated like a bag of nails and you could hear the ratchet half a mile away. I just cast by pulling the biggest loop I could get below the butt ring and launching the tackle as far as I could (a rod’s length probably)

I fished like that from the age of 10 to around 16 when I bought my first fixed spool reel a Pinto and what a bag of c**p it was. Bent wire bail arm appalling drag and the line spent more time around the back of the spool than it did in the water.

At 17 my best mate and I built our own 12ft fibreglass rods on mustard coloured blanks with moulded-in ferrules and I got an Ambidex Delmatic reel and all was right with the world.
 

silvers

Well-known member
Backwind.
I don’t fish for Marlin or Tarpon (or even carp). I have never felt that a clutch would give Me any advantage over backwinding ... even if the reels that I use were to have a decent clutch (which they mostly don’t).
 
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