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October 25, 2001

A Wedgie That Works

Use a piece of foam to prevent backlash on lever-drag reels.

I prefer leaving my trolling reels out of gear when drifting live or cut baits for pelagic species because line tension may spook wary fish that take the bait. However, when a hot fish nails the bait and speeds away, spool overrun can form a backlash and allow the fish to break off.
My solution is a wedge cut from dense foam rubber (not styrofoam or soft, spongy material) that "thumbs" the spool to prevent backlashes on sudden strikes. A lanyard of Dacron completes the system. Use a rigging needle to thread the Dacron through the wedge's base, then tie the other end of the lanyard to your rodholder. The length should be such that the wedge can be inserted between the reel's spool and crossbar, leaving very little slack in the lanyard.
Begin your drift, place the rod in a holder and secure the line with a flat-line clip, then insert the wedge. Clips guard against tip-wrapping and keep line from peeling off the reel while drifting. When a fish strikes, the wedge is drawn in slightly by the spool's movement, thus "thumbing" the reel to prevent overrun. When an angler picks up the rod, the lanyard comes tight and automatically pulls out the wedge. The angler can then decide whether to keep thumbing the spool or engage the drag.

Capt. Zac Grossman, Mako Express Charters
Parkland, Florida