7 Methods To Solve Fishing Reel Drag Won’t Tighten

fishing reel drag won't tighten
fishing reel drag won’t tighten

The fishing reel is one of the most important parts of the fishing gear.

This is because it is all you need for catching the fish, but it needs to work at its best to make sure the fish doesn’t swim away. You’ll need all the assistance that you can get from the equipment.

You will have to make sure that there is nothing wrong with the drag and it can tighten up properly.

Loose drag system will only put more pressure on your hands and you will not be able to last a long time in a fight. 

Everyone from the experts to beginners can benefit from a decent drag system as it takes much of the work off of their shoulders.

So, you will not have to deal with any hassle when it comes to the fishing reel drag and fixing the system will be fairly simple. 

For this reason, the drag needs to be properly tightened up to ensure you can easily spool it in and out.

On the other hand, when the fishing reel drag won’t tighten issue happens; there are a few solutions that you must try to make sure the drag works fine!

Fishing Reel Drag Won’t Tighten

  1. Free-Spinning Braid

First of all, when the drag doesn’t tighten up, your first guess should be checking the braid because the free-spinning mechanism on the reel can result in the issue. 

This is primarily because the braid is soft and thin, and when it is attached directly to the spinning reel, there will be an issue with the grip, and it will result in free-spinning if the fish has more weight.

Having said that, when the braid is free-spinning, the drag won’t tighten up because it won’t engage. 

If you aren’t sure, you can tighten down the drag and pull on the line – if the line ends up coming off the reel and there is no spool spinning, it’s likely to be the issue, and you have to work on the braid.

fishing reel

While we are already talking about the braid, let us share another thing that you can do to resolve the tightening issue. 

For this purpose, you must ensure proper knotting of the braid to ensure they are tightened up.

When putting down the knots while installing the braid, you have to start with the mono knots for a few rounds and add one surgeon knot at the end to streamline braiding.

  1. Broken Gear

No, we are not talking about the entire fishing gear but the gear on your shaft.

This is because the gear is integrated with the teeth which are needed for moving the drag and tightening it. On the other hand, if the gear is broken down, the drag will not tighten up. 

In most cases, the gear can be repaired, but if the damage is too intense, it is better to replace it.

Moreover, make sure that the replacement gear is high-quality and is bought from the hardware store that offers a warranty, so you don’t end up with broken gear again.

  1. Damaged Drag Clicker

damage wire

For those who don’t know, the drag clicker is meant to make noise and ensures seamless tightening.

The drag clicker is usually integrated into the spool. In addition, it has a spring that makes sure the drag clicker goes back into place and continues clicking. 

On the other hand, when this spring wears out and breaks down, the clicker won’t be able to help with the tightening.

  1. Take Out The Drag Washer

The fishing reel is integrated with the drag washer, and it needs to be properly cleaned to make sure the drag moves freely and tightens up.

To illustrate, you must take off your hands from the drag washers and clean them up. In fact, it is better to use the WD 40 for cleaning the drag washer, and don’t forget to dry them up properly. 

Once the drag washers are dried up, make it a point to add little reel oil into these washers, and they are likely to streamline the tightening.

  1. Line


It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the fishing reels are usually designed with the braided line, but a braided line is not always a great option for dragging.

That being said, if you have a braided line, change it with some other type of line (make the other hand is hard and thick), and it will surely tighten up well as compared to the braided line that keeps getting loose.

The bottom line is that drag not tightening up is a real issue, and the solutions mentioned in the article above can surely help. 

Also, let us tell you that you should never use the free-spinning line and always recheck the gear. As far as the repair is concerned, always hire a technician who knows how to handle the boat equipment and drag.

  1. Lubricate The Reel

Lubricating the reel will help you out a ton when it comes to getting a good enough response from the reel.

The situation with the reel can get incredibly annoying when you’re not keeping track of the proper care requirements. 

So, when you’re stuck in these issues and missed a couple of cleaning cycles the last few weeks, then you gotta service up the reel right away.

Otherwise, you will remain stuck in these errors and the response from the system will be subpar to say the least. 

All that you gotta do is to disassemble the reel and use some rubbing alcohol on a Q tip to get rid of the existing lubrication.

Next, you need to also remove all the grease that might be clogging up the system. From there, you can just apply a thin layer of oil. 

There is no need to rely on grease as it can mix up with the debris or dirt particles to create a thicker gunk like consistency. That will only complicate the situation in the long run and you will not be able to gain anything on your end.

Once the light layer of oil has been applied, you can just assemble everything again and then check the response from the reel drag one more time.

You will not be disappointed with the final results as long as the hardware is in good shape.

On the other side of things, hardware problems can be next to impossible to fix. You will not be able to get a good enough response from the reel when running into hardware issues.

  1. Claim Warranty

As long as you’re engaged with decent brands that offer a good warranty, you will not have to go through more hassle on your end.

All that you gotta do is to involve the experts working at the official support center and claim the warranty. 


Brands like Daiwa and Shimano have long been established in the market and you will not have as much hassle when it comes to getting a fresh piece.

Hopefully, everything will be pretty easy after you forward a warranty claim and get a fresh piece from the dealer. 

Some dealers will require you to send a valid proof of purchase like a receipt.

However, other users will not even bother you with that and you can get a fresh piece from the dealer without going through any extensive routines or complicated steps. 

Everything boils down to the dealer support in most situations and you need to only stick with the most decent and reliable brands.

Otherwise, you will just be holding yourself back and the performance from the reel will be subpar to say the least.

The Takeaway

After going through the details here, you should get a good idea on how to fix a reel with drag issues.

Most of the time, the issue is more with the gears and the and the clicker. However, a quick servicing cycle will help you out a ton. 

You have to make sure that there is nothing clogging up the system and the response from the reel is smooth.

Blasting the reel with compressed air and then removing the existing grease to add some light gear oil will not be that bad an idea.

All that you’re trying to do in most situations is to get a robust enough response from the reel.

So, just follow through with the few basic maintenance cycles and requirements, and that will help you out a ton. You won’t have to go through any complications in the long run. 

Lastly, the warranty claim can provide another layer of protection against your purchase.

You will not have to hassle as much on your own and you can simply engage the officials when it comes to these issues. All that you gotta do is to explain your end and ask for help. 

As long as you purchased the system from a decent brand, it will not be that complicated to get a new system. Hopefully, the hassle will be pretty limited when it comes to getting a fresh piece.

Leave a Comment