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Thread: Figure 8 question

  1. #1

    Figure 8 question

    I've seen many times where people say to free spool when you go into a figure 8 so you can control the "drag", so to speak, with your thumb if a Musky gets on during the 8.

    Hopefully this isn't a dumb question, but why not let the drag handle the figure 8 just like it handles the beginning of a cast? Is it a matter of more pressure on the end of your pole with the very short line out and a quick attack that's the issue?

    Thanks
    Jason

  2. #2
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    Jason --- I dont free spool on the figure-8 ,,, just dont lock down your drag to the max and a good fish will have no problem peeling off line on the figure-8 hook set ,,, I set my drag so that I can pull line off the reel with a medium-heavy pull with my fingers (hope that makes sense ?) ------- jimjimjim

  3. #3
    Thanks, that's what I was hoping to do, but I've seen where so many others do it the other way, which made me think there was a good reason for it that I was missing in some way. There's no real good way to practice the free spool until it happens, so I wasn't really looking forward to practicing once I had a nice fish on the other end. Thanks for the help.

    Jason

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    What jimjimjim said!!!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Steve Heiting's Avatar
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    I'm going to disagree with Jim and Larry on this one.

    First and foremost, you want to get a good hookset, and since figure-8 fish are going to be 25% or less of your catch for the season, this means that about 75% will hit somewhere during your retrieve before boatside. (Of course, if you only fish waters where figure-8 strikes are more prominent, like LOTW, your fig-8 percentage may exceed 50%, but on average I think 25% or less is realistic for most.)

    Since superline stretches up to 3%, if a musky hits immediately at the beginning of your retrieve on a 100-foot cast your line may stretch three feet on the hookset. If the drag slips, your hookset will be even worse. For this reason, I tighten my drag so that if I grab the line immediately above the reel, I can barely pull line out, which is enough to get it done.

    In the figure-8, yes, a big musky will take line no matter what. But some smaller fish may not and while we all want to catch big muskies, smaller ones are fun to catch, too. And, any hesitancy on your drag's part may rip the hooks out at such short range with a big fish. A lot of figure-8 fish merely nip the bait and end up being barely hooked. Reel drags have improved by light years compared to even 15 years ago, but sand, dirt, wear, and not loosening your drag every night so it relaxes can all potentially have a negative effect on your drag.

    Pressing the thumbbar and controlling the line with your thumb isn't really that hard to learn. Nothing bad will happen provided you don't take your thumb completely off the spool. Part of merely holding onto the rod involves your thumb, so it's unlikely you would take it off the spool in the first place.
    Steve Heiting

    www.steveheiting.com

  6. #6
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    I've had a 34" northern come from under the boat and hit as I was going into the 8. It was at full speed and I was off balance switching my footing and it didn't really take any drag and just shook my Big Nasty (pretty stiff for a smaller fish) which vibrated like crazy. In that case I would have been better with my thumb on free spool rather than everything locked down. But what I'm wondering is if a monster fish ever hits crazily unexpected like that when you are in free spool with just a bit of thumb pressure on the line and it shakes it into a backlash and you lose the fish? I'm guessing you'd probably grip everything tighter out of instinct when it hits but is this ever a concern or has it ever happened to you Steve? I've been thinking about switching my technique to free spool style too but weighing the risk of an off balance strike/shake at lock down vs a backlash scenario. Or simply not enough pressure/even pressure distribution like a drag so it could head shake and throw the hook. Also our water isn't that clear so you don't see the fish until just at the end when it's almost too late and it's hard to judge when your leader will be just to the top without ramming it into the guide. I hate when I'm ripping pounders as fast as I can and go into the 8 with too much line between the guide and leader and when I'm going that fast I don't want to push the thumb bar when I'm still reeling in line and put unnecessary wear on the reel.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Steve Heiting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trav View Post
    I've had a 34" northern come from under the boat and hit as I was going into the 8. It was at full speed and I was off balance switching my footing and it didn't really take any drag and just shook my Big Nasty (pretty stiff for a smaller fish) which vibrated like crazy. In that case I would have been better with my thumb on free spool rather than everything locked down. But what I'm wondering is if a monster fish ever hits crazily unexpected like that when you are in free spool with just a bit of thumb pressure on the line and it shakes it into a backlash and you lose the fish? I'm guessing you'd probably grip everything tighter out of instinct when it hits but is this ever a concern or has it ever happened to you Steve? I've been thinking about switching my technique to free spool style too but weighing the risk of an off balance strike/shake at lock down vs a backlash scenario. Or simply not enough pressure/even pressure distribution like a drag so it could head shake and throw the hook. Also our water isn't that clear so you don't see the fish until just at the end when it's almost too late and it's hard to judge when your leader will be just to the top without ramming it into the guide. I hate when I'm ripping pounders as fast as I can and go into the 8 with too much line between the guide and leader and when I'm going that fast I don't want to push the thumb bar when I'm still reeling in line and put unnecessary wear on the reel.
    Trav, I do the same thing on every cast/retrieve regardless if I see a fish or not, so muscle memory comes into play. Also, I expect a fish to hit on every cast, so getting caught off-guard doesn't happen. I've definitely been surprised by a sudden fish strike, but I don't remember losing one because of it.
    Steve Heiting

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  8. #8
    Well just great, now I don't know what to do. Sounds like both sides of the argument have merit, but now I'm leaning more towards thumbing it at the boat so I can be sure to get a good long distance hook set with a tighter drag, and not have it be too tight for those last second high speed attacks at the boat.

    You know, someone could make a bit of money off a reel that could change the drag setting based on how much line you had out...

  9. #9
    Thanks for the help on this one guys, I really appreciate the input. I never knew the "why" behind doing that, but it makes sense.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Heiting View Post
    Reel drags have improved by light years compared to even 15 years ago, but sand, dirt, wear, and not loosening your drag every night so it relaxes can all potentially have a negative effect on your drag.
    So we should loosen every night or not? Sorry I got confused for a moment.

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