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  1. #1

    Default Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    It seems that many different reel manufacturers are fighting for market share in a very competitive industry by placing a high importance on technology advancements. Aside from aesthetics, weight, and machining process, drag systems play a major role in the decision to purchase a premium fly reel. Some companies have made significant advancements to the reel drag systems by incorporating materials like carbon fiber, ceramic, rulon, and derlin, while others have maintained that cork is the steady failsafe. Some have attempted to combine cork and carbon fiber.

    I'm interested in hearing about everyone’s favorite reel and how preference on drag material plays into their brand selection. Is one brand better for fresh water versus salt water? The fly show revealed new reels from Nautilus, Ross, and Tibor among others. Each one is different and unique. What’s your favorite drag system for your fishing location? Feel free to include photos.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    Consider me old school, but I don't use disk drag reels in my trout setups (up to 5 weight). Disk drags are overkill for most trout. As long as the drag starts up smooth and doesn't overrun, I'm happy with that.

    As for drag systems, I use mostly Abels with cork drags from my 6 to my 12 weight reels. Cork just works. But there are other reasons why I like my Abels. Machining quality, finish quality, and made in California have strong influences on my choice. Also, they don't fail.

    MP

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    they are both fine options. being mainly a lamson/ross guy, i have never had a cork drag system. i will say that i love lamsons conical drag system, very smooth,extremely strong and,here's the key,infinitely, adjustable. very well designed. also, and i know many don't, i actually like the pop-off spool style.

    MP- my brother just ordered an abel creek to go with his new txl 3 weight and i cant waiting to hear a report.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    MP - How does the cork wear over time?

    I use a Ross CLA on my 8 weight. At the time, it was the most economical, machined reel. I'm very happy with it, although it can have runout if the drag knob is opened too much.

    Since then, I have been extremely happy with the Nautlus Feather Weight reels. The sealed drag will not be as strong as a Lamson, but on a 6 weight, it is more than enough. The price is more affordable for what you get in the similar componentry. I'd consider the Nautilus NV in a future purchase for a heavier weight reel.

    I was intrigued by Ted Juracsik's new Tibor Signature reel with the sealed cork drag system. You can't argue with the number of world records on the reel, however I have often wondered why those reels have kept their cork drags when others have changed to other materials. If you had one reel to put on an 8 or 9 weight would you choose cork or composit?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    I am definitely not up to speed on all of the various drag system components. I do have a few different types including cork on some Orvis Odyssey reels. I have a couple of Hardy Viscount Disc reels that are the gear type systems and they are very good drags for fish up to 15 pounds. Like MP if I'm not expecting giant fish I use spring & pawl Hardy and CFO reels. The very best drag I own is on a Cascapedia 8/9 and I have never taken the reel apart to see what makes it tick. It just works really well and I never questioned what made it so good.

    I guess I have no preference, I have kept the reels that work and sold those that didn't measure up to what I need from any of those.

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    I like Hardy's pawl/spring for trout but cork for the bigger stuff--Abel and Tibors.
    I like the idea that i can look at it in short order, not that it ever needed anything but a little neetsfoot oil. They have always been very smooth and have a nice range of adjustment (except for the Orvis DXR).

    FWIW--- Ive seen cork used in clutch applications.
    "something is happening here but i dont know what it is"---dylan

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    I think that is how those Odyssey's work (clutch) but I'm not sure. My Odyssey IV gets funky now and then and I'm about to call or e-mail the reel shop to find out how I should care for the cork disk. Do you know anything about these drags? You probably need one to look at to know so................

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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    Default Re: Fly Reel Favorites: Cork versus Composit Drag Systems

    Quote Originally Posted by chicagojohn View Post
    MP - How does the cork wear over time?
    I still have the original cork drag plates on my late 90s Abel Big Game 3N and Big Game 4N. I have caught numerous fish with them. Whenever I am not using my reels, the drag adjustments are backed off all the way. I also oil the cork drag plates once a year to keep them from drying out.

    Cork is a resilient material that holds its shape. It is like a wine stopper that has been pulled out of an aged bottle of wine. It eventually returns to its natural shape.

    There are many reliable systems on the market. I have a Bauer Rogue 4 that has a sealed carbon fiber disk drag and a Lamson Litespeed 3 with the sealed conical drag. Both systems are reliable.

    MP

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