Fishing with live baits quickly becomes a hassle if an angler doesn’t have the right tools.
That’s why growing numbers of fishermen today turn to spinning reels with dual drags to get the job done.
A secondary drag applies single-digit pounds of pressure to create tension-controlled free-spool, similar to a conventional reel.
There is one key difference: Spinning reels won’t backlash.
Shimano introduced the Triton Baitrunner Plus saltwater reel in 1988, setting the standard for free-spool spinners.
But today many top manufacturers also produce their own models at reasonable prices (between $100 and $200), including Penn’s Spinfisher SSV Live Liner, Shimano’s Thunnus CI4, Fin-Nor’s Bait Teaser, Okuma’s Trio Baitfeeder and Daiwa’s Opus Plus Bite ’N’ Run.
Shimano still produces Baitrunners too, with the Baitrunner OC introduced in 2013.
“By flipping the lever on the back of the reel, you disengage the front drag and engage the rear drag,” says Penn’s Mike Rice.
“The rear drag is much weaker and nearly tension-free at its lightest setting.
[This function] allows live baits to swim freely away from the boat and the angler to ‘feed’ a fish without line resistance.” Fishing live-lined baits and adding light drag tension, all without flipping the bail or affecting the main drag, offers a different dimension to spinners.
In fact, the dual drag on a spinner acts much like a spool-tension knob on a bait caster: When either reel is disengaged, tightening the secondary drag or spool-tension knob adds light pressure to allow free-spool.
With a flip of the lever, some spinning reels can switch to free-spool mode to live-line baits.