Star drag vs lever drag: Know All Differences!

Every conventional reel comes with a drag that falls in one of these types- star drag or lever drag. If you just get your feet wet in fishing, the question that arises in your mind is- what’s the difference between the star drag and the lever drag?

The difference between these reel drags is- you can make very fine-tuning adjustments with a lever drag. On the other hand, the star drug may get over-tightened when a large fish pulls the line hard.

Below, we will break down everything between these two types of drags and let you decide which one you should pick. So, let’s get started.

What Is Star Drag?

Every traditional & baitcasting reel incorporates a star drag system. It gets this name due to its star-shaped drag adjustment wheel that helps you tighten up or loosen up the drag system. You can find the drag adjustment wheel under the reel handle. This position of this drag system makes it a breeze and efficient to adjust the drag system while fighting the fish. You should turn the wheel to the right to tighten up the drag. Turning the wheel to the left will help you loosen up the drag.

How Does The Star Drag Work?

The working mechanism of a star drag is simple. You can find the drive gear & washers mounted on the main reel shaft. And the shaft is located between the gear and the pile of washers.

The drive gear engages with a small gear installed on the end of a spool shaft. When cranking the reel handle, it pushes the main drive gear to spin the spool.

This drag system applies pressure against the pile of washers when you will tighten up the drag adjustment wheel. Then, the pressure will transform from the washers and drive gear to the small gear that controls the spool. And guess what, this pressure lets the spool slip and loose up lines.

When a fish pulls the line, the slippy washers slip against each other and loosen up the line.


  • Affordable to get
  • You can keep it locked all the time
  • Perfect for bottom fishing
  • Star drag systems cast better


  • This system is less predictable

What Is Lever Drag?

The lever drag comes in handy in chasing the big fish game. Unlike the star drag, the drag on the reel is set by a lever mounted on the top side. As a result, an angler can easily access the drag system and adjust it quickly. Anglers who love to catch big fish highly adore this drag system which lasts for a long time as it creates less heat.

How Does The Lever Drag Work?

Lever drag! Its working mechanism is simple as it sounds. It’s a lever that adjusts the lever as you go up and down. When you go up the lever, the more pressure it will apply against the spool with the drag plate. Dialing it down will release the pressure. This system actually works by applying a drag plate against the side of the line spool.


  • You can pre-set the drags on every mark on the side of the reel and know how many pounds of drag you have.
  • Easy to engage faster with the troll.
  • Perfect for chasing the big fish


  • Poor castability

Star Drag Vs Lever Drag: What’s the Difference?

In this chapter, we will break down the differences between the star drag and the lever drag reels.

Star drag vs lever drag
  • Save


Mechanically, both lever drags and star drags are quite different. In the lever drag, you can find only a single washer. On the other hand, there are several washers in the star drags. Of course, the size of the washer is also different. The drag lever washer is larger than the star drag washers.

If you observe closely, you can see the washer of the lever drag is on the end of the spool. On the other hand, the star drag washers are located inside the main gear.

Intention of Design

Star drags are specially designed for catching up smaller fishes. Here smaller fishes indicate any fish below 40-50 lbs. You can fish off small tuna, fluke, sea bass, or cobia with star drag reels.

In contrast, lever drags become reliable for hooking larger fishes like carps above 40-50 lbs. It has two-speed options which allow you to switch between high gearing and low gearing to hook up large fish.

Drag Adjustment

Lever drags come with preset drag adjustments. You can keep the drag adjustment at the strike setting.

As a result, you will get your desired drag to set the hook properly while ensuring the fish gets enough drag to prevent it from breaking the line.

The advantage of a lever drag is you can easily set the right strike setting by pulling up or down the lever. In other words, you can easily move between strike positions to haul the monster fish.

On the other hand, there is a chance of over-tightening up the star drags, which may break the line when chasing the big fishes.


Star drags make a big name to the anglers as they find it easy for casting as it tends to spin more freely than lever drags. So, we recommend you go for the star drags to gain better castability.

Fishing reel related faq you’ve been missing at outdoorboat –

Where are Lew’s Reels Made?

How to Clean a Fishing Reel?

How to Spool a Spinning Reel with Braid?

How to Tie Fishing Line to a Reel?

What Size Spinning Reel for Bass Fishing?

Final Verdict

Both star drag and lever drag have upsides and downsides. Star drag reels are better for casting and bottom fishing. But the disadvantage of it is- you will not get the drag you need for hooking up a big fish.

On the other hand, lever drag reels provide precise adjustments to catch larger fishers. However, it’s not better for casting. We prefer the lever drag most as you will get better adjustability and support.

However, we give you the complete freedom to pick the drag system you wish.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap