Building a balanced tackle setup

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~ Courtesy of IxianMace - community member ~

The Components

At the most basic level, all fishing setups consist of three main components: the rod, reel, and line. As a general rule, the line should always be the weakest link in the setup. If your line ends up breaking, you'll lose whatever you had attached to the end of it, as well as 3 meters of line off your spool. This can cost you hooks and lures, but these are relatively cheap and easy to replace compared to breaking the rod or reel. You can simply attach a new lure or hook to the line and continue fishing if your line breaks.

Obviously, you can't fish with a broken rod or reel, so if something has to break, you'll want it to be the line.

When assembling a new fishing setup, try to observe these rules:

- The maximum drag of the reel should be higher than the test (maximum sustainable load) of the line.

- The test of the line should be lower than the maximum line weight of the rod.

You should aim to:

- Maximize the amount of drag you're putting on the line, without setting the drag on the reel to its highest level or exceeding the strength of the line.

- Equip the strongest line the rod can handle, so long as the strength of the line does not exceed the maximum drag of the reel.

There's no point equipping a line that's stronger than the reel, as the reel won't have the power to take full advantage of the strength of the line (and may end up breaking under extreme load). Equipping line that's stronger than the rod may result in the rod breaking. In most cases, you'll probably want to equip the strongest line the rod can handle, provided you have a reel that's stronger than the line. If you have a rod that can handle heavy line but don't have a reel strong enough for it, you'll just have to go with the strongest line your reel can handle, provided the line is within the line weight limits of the rod.

I'll provide some examples to make this clearer later, but for now, let's have a brief look at reels and drag settings.

Reels & Drag Settings

Reels vary not only in the amount of maximum drag they can put on the line, but also in how many drag settings they have. Reels with more drag settings are capable of making finer adjustments to drag than reels with smaller numbers of drag settings.

When you go on a fishing trip, the reel's speed and drag settings will appear in the bottom-right corner of the screen. The circular bars light up in a clockwise direction - the more bars are lit, the greater the drag. The arrow in the middle of the circle represents how quickly your character will reel in line, but this is not relevant for the purposes of this guide.

Press the "-" and "+" keys on the numberpad to decrease and increase drag respectively.

This reel has 8 drag settings. It's currently on drag setting 6.

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This reel also has 8 drag settings. It's currently on drag setting 5.

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This reel has 6 drag settings. It's currently on drag setting 5.

BT r3.png

Knowing how much drag a reel is putting on the line is very important if you want to avoid breaking the line, while using as much of the line's strength as possible.

To calculate how much drag a reel will put on the line at any given setting:

- Look at the maximum drag of the reel.

- Divide the maximum drag of the reel by the number of drag settings the reel has. This will tell you how much the reel will increase/decrease drag by every time you raise/lower the drag setting.

- Multiply this number by the number of the drag setting you wish to use.

Cutting and Equipping Line

It's possible to adjust the amount of line to be cut and equipped on a reel. By default, the game won't equip the maximum length of line the reel can handle. When the dialogue box appears, prompting you to adjust the line length, drag the scissors to the left or the right, depending on how much line you wish to equip.

BT pic1.jpg


To equip the maximum amount of line possible that the reel can handle, drag the scissors all the way to the right, like so:

BT pic2.jpg

Medium Float Setup - Fenix 450 + FatBoySpin 5000

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This is a float fishing setup suitable for catching small to medium-sized fish, like panfish, crappie, trout, catfish, and bass.

  • Rod: Fenix 450 (line weight of 2.5-5.5 kg)
  • Reel: FatBoySpin 5000 (max drag of 8.0 kg)
  • Line: Fluoro 0.3 mm (5.5 kg test)

The FatBoySpin 5000 reel has 8 drag settings. Since it has a maximum drag of 8.0 kg, the drag will increase or decrease by 1.0 kg every time the drag setting is changed. (8.0 kg drag / 8 drag settings = 1.0 kg per drag 'bar'.)

How much drag will the FatBoySpin 5000 put on the line at any given setting?

Drag setting Total drag
kg lb
1 1.000 2.125
2 2.000 4.250
3 3.000 6.375
4 4.000 8.500
5 5.000 10.625
6 6.000 12.750
7 7.000 14.875
8 8.000 17.000

Adjusting the drag on the FatBoySpin 5000 to 5 will put 5.0 kg of drag on the line, with 0.5 kg as a 'safety buffer' on both the rod and the line. From the table above, it's easy to see how a higher drag setting would exceed the limits of both the line and the rod. A lower setting would simply be a waste of power.

Summary: - With a test of 5.5 kg, fluoro 0.3 mm is the absolute strongest line this rod can safely handle.

- With a maximum drag of 8.0 kg, the FatBoySpin 5000 is much stronger than the line, meaning a lot of the reel's power is wasted in this setup.

- At drag setting 5, the FatBoySpin 5000 puts 5.0 kg of drag on the line. Most of the line's and the rod's power is being used, and the reel should be in no danger of breaking. This is pretty much perfect.

It might seem odd to use a reel that's much stronger than both the line and the rod in a setup like this, but I like the FatBoySpin 5000 in this setup because it can put exactly 5.0 kg of drag on the line, allowing me to use almost all of the line's strength without being in any danger of breaking the reel. What would happen if extreme load was placed on this setup and something had to break? I'm not sure whether the line or the rod would be the first to go. I've never been in a situation to find out, but I'm hoping that if an extreme situation arose, I'd be able to move the rod in such a way as to alleviate load on it and possibly save it from breaking.

Light Spinning Setup - JigWinner 270 + Prima 3500

BT pic4.jpg

This is what I use to fish for trout, walleye, and sometimes bass.

  • Rod: JigWinner 270 (line weight of 1.5-4 kg)
  • Reel: Prima 3500 (max drag of 5.0 kg)
  • Line: Fluoro 0.28 mm (4.5 kg test)

The Prima 3500 has 8 drag settings. Since it has a maximum drag of 5.0 kg, the drag will increase or decrease by 0.625 kg every time the drag setting is changed. (5.0 kg drag / 8 drag settings = 0.625 kg per drag 'bar'.)

How much drag will the Prima 3500 put on the line at any given setting?

Drag setting Total drag
kg lb
1 0.625 1.313
2 1.250 2.625
3 1.875 3.938
4 2.500 5.250
5 3.125 6.563
6 3.750 7.875
7 4.375 9.188
8 5.000 10.500

From the table above, we can see that drag setting 6 is the best setting to use. This is because drag setting 7 would exceed the maximum load the rod could handle. The line would still hold if we put 4.375 kg of drag on it, but the rod would probably break under extreme load.

Summary: - With a test of 4.5 kg, fluoro 0.28 mm is a bit stronger than the rod. However, if I were to go down to the next weakest line, that would be 0.18 mm braid, which has a test of 3.6 kg. I'd also have to look for a different reel or adjust the drag setting on the Prima 3500 down to drag setting 5 to avoid breaking the line. If there were a fluoro line with a test of exactly 4 kg, I would use that instead.

- At drag setting 6, the Prima 3500 has 1.25 kg of drag to spare, using most of its power. The JigWinner 270 has a 'safety buffer' of 0.25 kg - it's almost at its limit.

- At drag setting 6, the Prima 3500 puts 3.75 kg of drag on the 4.5 kg line, leaving 0.75 kg of the line's strength unused. The JigWinner 270's weakness limits us from setting the drag any higher.

I use fluoro line when fishing for trout, because trout have good eyesight and can be scared away if they see the line in the water. Additionally, I keep this rod safe by keeping the drag of the reel below the rod's maximum line weight. So far, this setup has worked really well. You might not be able to get a setup perfectly balanced all the time. In these cases, just do the best you can.

Remember the FatBoySpin 5000 reel from the float setup earlier on? If I equipped that here instead of the Prima 3500 and put it on drag setting 4, it would put exactly 4.0 kg of drag on the line - equal to the maximum limit the rod can handle. I always like to play it safe by cutting a little under maximum limits, and in this case, I'd only be gaining an extra 0.25 kg of drag. You could try this if you like, but I don't think it's really worth the risk to the rod.

Heavy Spinning Setup - Thora 290 + Exterminator 5500

BT pic5.jpg

An effective setup for level 18-19, this combination is quite capable of bringing in large fish at California.

  • Rod: Thora 290 (line weight of 3.5-9 kg)
  • Reel: Exterminator 5500 (max drag of 8.5 kg)
  • Line: Fluoro 0.35 mm (6.8 kg test)

Once again, the Exterminator 5500 has 8 drag settings. It has a maximum drag of 8.5 kg; therefore, the drag it puts on the line will increase or decrease by 1.0625 kg every time the drag setting is changed.

How much drag will the Exterminator 5500 put on the line at any given setting?

Drag setting Total drag
kg lb
1 1.063 2.313
2 2.125 4.625
3 3.188 6.938
4 4.250 9.250
5 5.313 11.563
6 6.375 13.875
7 7.438 16.188
8 8.500 18.500


We're using fluoro 0.35 mm, which has a test of 6.8 kg. Looking at the table above, we can see that drag setting 6 would be the best setting to use on the Exterminator 5500.

Summary: - With a test of 6.8 kg, fluoro 0.35 mm is nowhere near the strongest line the Thora 290 rod can handle. There is a lot of wasted power in the rod in this setup.

- At drag setting 6, the Exterminator 5500 has 2.125 kg of drag to spare. There's a little bit of wasted power here, but on the plus side, the reel should be in no danger of breaking.

- At drag setting 6, the Exterminator 5500 puts 6.375 kg of drag on the 6.8 kg line. Almost all of the line's power is being used.

- Under extreme load, the line should definitely be the first component to break in this setup.

It might often be the case - as it is here - that you cannot maximise the full power of the rod until you gain access to better lines and reels. The most power you can get out of your setup will depend on the weakest component, and that could be anything from the rod, to the line, or the reel.

X Heavy Casting Setup - GalaxyCast 260 + Cyclone 4500

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I use this setup to catch heavy, hard-fighting fish when long casts aren't really necessary.

  • Rod: GalaxyCast 260 (line weight of 5-17 kg)
  • Reel: Cyclone 4500 (max drag of 13.0 kg)
  • Line: Fluoro 0.45 mm (11.3 kg test)

The Cyclone 4500 has 6 drag settings. It has a maximum drag of 13.0 kg; therefore, the drag it puts on the line will increase or decrease by 2.166 kg every time the drag setting is changed.

How much drag will the Cyclone 4500 put on the line at any given setting?

Drag setting Total drag
kg lb
1 2.167 4.583
2 4.333 9.167
3 6.500 13.750
4 8.667 18.333
5 10.833 22.917
6 13.000 27.500


Summary: - With a test of 11.3 kg, fluoro 0.45 mm is nowhere near the strongest line the GalaxyCast 260 rod can handle. There is a lot of wasted power in the rod in this setup.

- At drag setting 5, the Cyclone 4500 reel has 2.166 kg of drag to spare. Setting it one level higher would put it at its maximum limit, which I don't recommend for any reel at all.

- At drag setting 5, the Cyclone 4500 reel puts 10.833 kg of drag on the 11.3 kg line. Almost all of the line's power is being used.

- Under extreme load, the line should be the first component to break in this setup.

The next strongest line has a test of 13.6 kg, and the line after that has a test of 14.5 kg. The GalaxyCast 260 is strong enough to handle both of these lines, but the strength of these lines both exceed the maximum drag of the Cyclone 4500, and would break this reel. As you gain access to stronger reels, calculate how much drag each setting on any given reel would give you, and then use the highest safe drag setting for both the line and the rod.

Questions & Conclusion

Why do you only use fluoro? Are braid and mono lines any good? I like fluoro line because it is invisible to fish. By using fluoro, I can ignore the whole issue of fish being scared away from seeing the line in the water. Mono has a greater range of line strengths, but isn't entirely invisible and has the same line thickness as fluoro while being slightly weaker in some cases. Braid has the best strength-to-thickness ratio, but is highly visible to fish and has a limited selection of line strengths to choose from.

How do you choose which reels to use? What do you look for when you go browsing in the in-game store? First, I decide on a rod I want to use. I then look at the line weight of the rod. I try to match the rod with the strongest line it can handle. Once I've decided on the rod and the line, I look for a reel with a higher maximum drag than the test of the line I plan to use with it. I then calculate how much drag the reel will give me at any given setting and see if there is a setting that falls close to the test of the line. The reel I'll use will be one that gives me a drag setting as close as possible to the test of the line, without exceeding it. I consider a drag setting that's within 0.5 kg under the test of the line to be optimal, since you're using almost the full power of the line while leaving a little bit of a 'safety buffer' in case the line gets jerked violently or comes under a little extra load for some reason.

Remember that casting rods can only be equipped with casting reels. All other types of rods require a spinning reel.

As far as fishing rods are concerned, I look for ones with the longest length. Not only do they cast further, but they also tend to have a greater range of lure weights and are capable of taking more line weight than their shorter counterparts. Look at the 'Thora' series of rods to get a good idea of what I mean.

As far as line is concerned, I've already mentioned that I like to use fluorocarbon for the fact that it's invisible to fish. The thicker the line, the shorter the throwing distance. To counter this, use heavier lures or longer fishing rods.

What's the difference between 'safety buffer' and wasted power? This depends on your point of view and what you feel comfortable with. Going back to my JigWinner 270 setup, some people might consider it wasteful to not use a FatBoySpin 5000 reel at drag setting 4 to get an extra 0.25 kg of drag out of the line. I think that if you can get the drag to within 0.5 kg of the test of the line while staying within all the rules I've mentioned, then you've pretty much optimised your setup. Just go with what you feel comfortable with. I used to get really nervous when seeing the line tension spike into the red so much to the point where I'd lower the drag so that it never rose above yellow. Now I fish almost always with the line tension peaking into the red, and the only time I break the line is if the fish is so powerful that it pulls the line out to maximum length. Fish within the limits of what your gear can handle, but don't be afraid to make it really work for you either. You might be surprised at what you can catch.

This is an actual screenshot of the 'Heavy Spinning Setup' in action - the Thora 290, Exterminator 5500, and fluoro 0.35 mm. Pulling the rod to the side and making it bend has proven to be an effective method of stopping a runaway fish and turning it around.

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Conclusion: Even with a balanced setup, it's impossible to guarantee that you won't break any equipment. The most you can do is maximize power to fight fish more effectively and bring them in more quickly. Equipment statistics may change in the future, but the principles explained here most likely will not.



Wiki Team message: The measurement units from this articles are Metric. If you have problems identifying correctly the mentioned items, use Wiki tackle tables.