Setting the drag on your spinning reel is an important part of making sure you have the right amount of resistance when playing a fish.

Unfortunately, many anglers do not have access to a scale, so they are unable to accurately set the drag. However, there is still a way to get it done without that scale.

Here’s how to set drag on your spinning reel without having to use any specialized tools.

How to Set Drag on a Spinning Reel Without a Scale

Start with the reel’s drag lever in its ‘locked’ position, or when it is closest to the handle of the rod. With your hand, turn the spool of the reel until it can’t turn anymore (this will be quite obvious).

Then, start turning it back in reverse until you feel just enough resistance that you can barely turn it with your fingers. This will give you a good starting point for setting your drag tension.

Next, secure your rod in a holder and tie it on a leader line with an appropriate weight (a couple of ounces should suffice).

Now start slowly cranking up the drag lever clockwise and watch as the line begins to stretch out from the spool. Continue cranking until you reach about halfway between where you started and where the lever stops at its maximum tightness.

You want as much pressure as possible while still being able to pull off some line without feeling like you are going to break it—you want this pressure to be consistent all around regardless of how hard or soft you are pulling on it.

This method may not give you an exact number in terms of pounds of pressure but should offer enough consistency that gives other anglers who don’t own scales an opportunity to make sure their reels are properly adjusted for their needs.

Finally, test out your drag settings by playing a fish with them and seeing how they hold up against different sizes and speeds of fish. If needed, adjust accordingly by increasing or decreasing tension during fighting depending on what type of fish you’re battling against!


Setting drag on a spinning reel without a scale may seem intimidating at first; however, with some practice and patience, this task can become second nature for any angler!

All that’s needed is some trial and error and soon enough you’ll have perfected this technique so that every time out fishing will be more enjoyable than ever before! Good luck!