December 11th, 2000

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Editors Note:
I do not know how to take care of my cork-drag fly reel. Well, make that, up until now I didn't. As much as I hate to admit it, as long as I have been at this game, I never really knew 'exactly' how it should be done. I seemed to me there should be some do's and do-not's associated with the 'care and feeding' of a fly reel with a cork drag.

So I asked a major manufacturer (Fin-Nor) to write me some instructions, basic ones good enough for any fly reel with a cork drag. Figured we all could use the info. My thanks to Scotty for supplying the following. Although he is with Fin-Nor, these tips should apply to any make of fly reel with a cork drag. JC


Care of Cork Drag Reels

By Scott McIvor, Fin-Nor Staff

Fin-Nor fly and trolling reels have been designed to withstand a lifetime of hardcore angling. For more than a half century, Fin-Nor has been creating a legendary reputation with our cork drags. Many reels produced in the 1930's, 40's and, 50's are still in service today utilizing cork drags.

Many companies with very strong reputations, Abel, Islander, and Tibor have used Cork drags. Along with Fin-Nor, these companies have proven the durability and reliability of cork.

The number one problem when using cork, as your drag material is that the average angler will not take an additional three to five minutes to complete the maintenance required.

A few tips to help extend the life of cork drags.

First tighten your drag until you have full drag pressure. Then rinse your reel with fresh water, using an indirect spray. Do Not Submerse your reel in a bucket of water. (Cork is like a sponge it will hold a lot of moisture.) Once you have rinsed your reel, then towel dry the surface.

Using a small amount of silicote oil applied to a dry rag or silicote impregnated cloth, wipe the dry surface of the reel with the silicote oil. Wipe all excess oil from the surface with a dry rag. This action will keep the surface protected from dirt and debris.

Now, release the drag pressure and expose the cork surface. Using a dry rag or paper towel wipe your drag surface thoroughly, until dry. If wiping with the dry rag cannot clean the drag surface, you will have to use a small amount of mineral spirits, naphtha or alcohol to remove the dirt and built up grease off of your drag surface. Once you clean the surface dry your cork drag washer thoroughly. Then clean the backside of your spool with a dry rag or paper towel.

Using the tip of your finger apply a very small amount of grease to the cork surface. Now assemble your reel and tighten your drag to the position you would use when fishing. You should now test your drag by turning your spool at a fairly rapid rate. This will heat the cork and cause it to expand. If the drag feels sticky at this point, open your reel and reapply the grease and wipe all of the excess with a dry rag or paper towel. Repeat this process until your drag feels smooth.

When the drag is acceptable, release all the drag pressure and store your reel in cool place out of the sun. This will keep your cork from expanding and will make it easier to set your drag for the next trip.

Remember when you are on the stream or the flats and your drag feels a little sticky or the drag is grabbing, you can stop this problem most of the time by wiping the drag surface off with a towel.

A few minutes of maintenance will extend the life of your tackle tenfold. Clean it! Grease it - have it for a lifetime. ~ Scott McIvor


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