Sealed Drag - Fact or Fiction? - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 12-16-2003, 08:41 AM
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Sealed Drag - Fact or Fiction?

I regret to say that every "sealed" drag system I have enthusiastically adopted has turned out to be a farce, at least in terms of long term resistance to corrosion even with meticulous rinsing and soaking.

The initial performance is excellent, and the resistance to salt and sand (I am a saltwater shore guide in season) is excellent as well - but I find that within the season there has been invasion of water into the mechanism and corrosion has set in.

I am starting to think that a fully exposed mechnism like the old Lamson LP (which had other known problems) is the way to go because it is completely rinsed out instead of locking moisture and salt inside the presumably sealed assembly.

How have others fared with sealed drags?
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  #2  
Old 12-16-2003, 09:25 AM
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J,

I have learned the hard way that my system of soaking reels after use isn't the way to do it. 3 reels in the shop as we speak.

A light rinse, spray down with WD40, wipe off, a shot Reel Magic on the working parts - that's it for me for now on.

Roop
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:33 AM
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Charlton...bullet proof...8 seasons sofarsogood going strong!
Bauer...5 seasons...sofarsogood!
Sage...2 seasons...sofarsogood!
Van Zebco...SWEET design favourite...the corrosion jury is still out...sofarsogood!

I rinse well and field strip but don't like to soak.
IMHO...
If there's even a remote possibility of compromise, soaking will slowly introduce moisture to where it shouldn't be.
Take the line and backing off when you're done phishin', apply lubrication, rust inhibitor, wipe down and start tying fuzzy ideas!
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:40 AM
BigDave BigDave is offline
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Juro,

I assume you are speaking of reels like Lamsons that rely on a pressure-click and O ring to seal the drag mechanism.

I have found that the best way to maintain these reels is to do nothing at all. No soak. No lube. Especially do not remove the spool and attempt to rinse the innards of the drag. I did this with my first one and it froze the conical drag system...which lamson graciously replaced for free.

Put plenty of hours, drops on the rocks, sand and dunkings on my L4 this year and have had zero problems - becuase I followed lamson's instructions and did NOTHING in the way of maintenance.

One thing to be aware of is changing spools with these reels. If you have a spare spool in a fanny pack that has been sprayed i.e the spindle has been exposed to SW and is still wet, and you switch spools, you're doomed.

Haven't had a problem since I've become aware of this. I guess some people have to learn the hard way
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:43 AM
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Good feedback...

Pete, if I am not mistaken the Bauer and Charlton (wish I had one) are not sealed drags.

Another point - 'religious' soaking is recommended by some major reel makers as being the only way to combat internal corrosion. Having some trouble I called service and their first question... "did you soak it as recommended in the care and maintenance section of the website?".

I would think that a reel that is designed without chambers to trap salt and moisture would benefit from a good soaking. My feeling is that on the contrary, a semi-sealed drag is much worse than a bare-assed exposed system one can wash, rinse, lube and soak.

That being said, a truly, uncontestably, inpenetrable sealed system would be the best... I am starting to wonder if such a thing really exists.
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Old 12-16-2003, 09:59 AM
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Dave -

That is one of the situations, yes. I am also having issued with other designs / brands.

I can accept the do-nothing advise, but if spool changes are a problem I am a bit concerned. I suppose as light as the Lamsons are carrying two reels would not be a problem except for the additional pricetag.

But spare spools are critical in the fishery and although I use the neoprene spool pocket I can't control too much more than that for exposure before swappage. I am meticulous with my gear when it comes to rinsing and lubrication (which is not recommended for some sealed spindles), I do not remove the spool for the rinse but I do rinse any spools whose lines touched the ocean and the spindle is exposed on those spools.

I do typically put all the reels into the pre-washed stripping basket and let them sit while I add the rest of the reels and rinse them; also any spools after an outing, knowing that dilution is about the only known treatment for salt. They soak for several minutes through this process then are removed.

Then all the reels sit on a rack (wire shelf) to dry until the next outing. If I fish back-to-back days they will get a decent rinse and I give them the deluxe $12 drive-thru wax and tricolor scrubbing bubbles and underbody rinse on the last day.

But this is all beside the point... are these drags sealed or not? I am thinking "not".
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Old 12-16-2003, 10:17 AM
BigDave BigDave is offline
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My .02:

Yes they are sealed. With zero maintenance I popped my spool at the end of the season and looked inside. The sealed drag mechanism looked so well lubed and pristine it was practically glowing.

Problem is once you get water inside - it's sealed in there too...game over.

I switch reels frequently as do you. I am careful to stow my extra spool in a place where it will stay totally dry. This probably won't work for everyone esp. guys who spend the majority of their time in the surf. 2 reels would be a better idea.

Final note: after speaking with Lamson about this it appears that the small percentage of reels that are not actually "sealed" share one problem. A faulty or improperly fit O ring. The problem here is the ring is on the spool...so if you switch spools a lot and have one bad spool/seal and you dunk the reel...water invades the drag and you have effectively ruined your whole system.
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Old 12-16-2003, 11:38 AM
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I'm about 80/20 flats/surf depending on time of year I could go 99.99% one way or the other. I tend to use a much bigger reel on the surf, another "sealed" with problems. The model we are discussing doesn't go there often if at all.

Do you attribute your first failure to the o-ring?
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Old 12-16-2003, 11:46 AM
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Juro I am about 80/20 too...but watching the sleet fall on Sun my brain was about 100% thinking about south beach in June...go figure

Nope - the ring was not the problem. After my first day out I took the reel apart to rinse it without reading the directions that came with it. Daaahhhhh

I'm not saying its a perfect reel by any means...but none of them are!
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Old 12-16-2003, 11:52 AM
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Good to know, thanks.

Man... SB in June... >sigh<
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Old 12-16-2003, 02:24 PM
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In my experience:

Sealed mechanism=Labyrinth seal

Labyrinth=, " Mazelike."

The Labyrinth seal makes it difficult for water/salt to get in, impossible for them to get out, and they are generally not user-serviceable.

FYI, certain manufacturers who used to recommend soaking reels after salt exposure, are now recommending against soaking because they have found that it just forces the salt deeper into the mechanism, leading to failure. I believe that Tibor now recommends the light rinse/lube method over soaking.

I like a reel that I can service myself and figure out how to get it back together. These are only fly reels, it is not rocket science, to me, less parts is better, and the quality of those parts is important as all stainless/alloys are not created equal.

I personally, would not own any reel that claimed to be, " Sealed," unless it was user-servicable and I could buy spare parts to keep on hand.

These things never break down in the off-season, do they?

BTW Juro, your Bauer M7 was the first Bauer reel I have ever seen, and from the outside, it looks pretty darn nice. How is it on the inside and how has it held-up for you?
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Old 12-16-2003, 02:46 PM
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I like the M7 for a number of reasons. Although not sealed, it's very "serviceable" and it's an exceptional performance/value for a freshwater spey reel. I can't comment on it's durability as a salter two-hander reel but the combined cork/teflon drag system is very smooth with big fish on in a river. I don't muck with drag when fighting a fish, but if one had to the newer Bauers have the knob on the backside so you don't knock knuckles. Again, that's what the palm is for and I haven't had a problem so far.

I am starting to agree with your assessment on the trade-offs between serviceability and sealed drags. I beat the crap out of Lamson LP's for years and they are back to swiss watch smooth with a little service. Unfortunately they have a design glitch that wastes that full diameter rotor on a miniscule caliper / pad. All they need to regain workhorse status in my guidegear collection would be an upgrade. I am determined to re-design the pad assy on the LP to beef it up to industrial grade, thus doing the rest of the simple brick sh*t house chassis justice. I am working on a mechanical engr to help me out...

My LOOP HD only gets freshwater exposure, in which it has been flawless, but the new HD 9-13 reel I will be putting on the Atlantis 1111 will be getting full-salt assault this coming season. I hope it's sealed system fares better than my others.

All things equal I would rather have a sealed system that is inpenetrable. I have yet to find that in the reels I have subject to a full season of saltwater fishing. Spool swaps are a very important part of a day out, so that has to be covered. I carry the spools in their pouch inside my Patagonia waterproof backpack, which not only seals out water and debris but is opaque such that even the water and sandwiches are not heated very much on a mid-day flats outing. I have to think this method is adequate care on my part, or at least let's say I need a system that can accomodate me on this. I am not willing to pamper the damn things any more than I already am.

Second choice is a drag system that is tough but easily serviceable, much more realistic I am beginning to think.

I will keep hoping for that inpenetrable sealed drag though...
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  #13  
Old 12-16-2003, 03:27 PM
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Juro-
You will have nothing to worry about with the Loops. I promise!

On the other hand, I feel your pain regarding the Lamson's. The Lamson's drag is as smooth as they come, they are light, have a great arbor desgin that picks up a crapload of line and they are just downright cool looking (especially the new Veloicty and the new blue Litespeed).

But!...the sealed mechanism as some of us have learned is not really sealed. I am on my 3rd set of innerds (sp?) on my Litespeed 3.5 and need to send it AGAIN to have the drag and needle bearing replaced.

I was discussing the issue with the local rep. and he did admit that there has been a problem that was suppose to be fixed with the addition of the new brass bushing which allows for a better seal. He also told me, that a couple of his reels are corroded themselves but still work perfectly. My 3.5 LS has been corroded for sometime but it actually still is just as smooth as new BUT I can not help but wonder when it will sieze up AGAIN (which it did after the first battle with corrosion finally set in).

If you do decide to send your reel(s) in for repair make sure you send all the spools in with them as well. If you have a spindle that is abbraded or has a rough spot, this will eat through the o-ring pretty quickly and allow for corrosion. The second time I sent in my Litespeed 3.5, I was told to send in all my spools as well (and if I remember correctly, they replaced a spindle on one of them).
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Old 12-16-2003, 03:29 PM
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BTW

Old Florida's new Nautilus reels have a totally inpentrable sealed cork drag.

A couple freinds of mine have landed bonefish, trevally and kings to 40 pounds on them without a problem!

Plus they are roughly the same price as a Canyon.
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Old 12-16-2003, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
I am working on a mechanical engr to help me out...
we didin't get to that last time we spoke...sorry about that. Post holiday's I should have some serious time to look into this.

Nick
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