If you’ve looked at the box that Penn reels come in, you’ve probably seen the term ‘HT-100’, referring to the drag system. But do you know what the name means or why this washer was such a game changer?
Here, we give a quick overview of how and why the HT-100 got its name and how it has improved and pioneered angling over the last three decades. So let’s start with the name.
The ‘HT’ of the name stands for ‘High Tech’ and the 100 means that the original testing ran the equivalent of 100 miles of fishing line against the drag of a reel without any significant change to the drag washers.
The Penn HT-100 drag material is a carbon fibre fabric that’s laminated on fibreglass. This creates large, stiff sheets that are cut into strips and run through a stamp line to produce the washers in a variety of sizes. Now, carbon fibre is used by almost every other reel manufacturer.
In the 1980s, better carbon fibre productions meant this material could trickle down from expensive aerospace projects to consumer products. It became popular for fishing rods around this time, which were usually made from heavier glass-fibre up till then. But once carbon fibre was used for rods, it became clear that it could have uses in other fishing equipment.
Penn was probably the first to use carbon fibre for drag washers, starting production of its HT-100 washers in 1985. They were an instant success and, by the following year, carbon fibre HT-100 washers were used in most of their reels.
The HT-100 washers were capable of handling more than the older asbestos-type models. That’s because the friction of carbon fibre gets lower as the material gets hotter, meaning the carbon fibre compensates for the loss of line that occurs during a run by a large fish. This reduces the chance of the line breaking and the angler losing the fish.
Dura-Drag is a variation, rather than an alternative, to HT-100. Dura-Drag washers contain a special Phenolic bonding agent which prevents the premature breakdown of the material while also providing a water barrier.
Dura-drag is also pre-treated with a special formula developed by Penn engineers. This formula improves the drag performance, giving it a silky and smooth feel from the start and right through the entire drag run. In practice, this means you don’t need to grease the washers like many do with HT-100. In fact, Penn even warns that adding greases can inhibit the performance of the Dura-Drag washers. Just another example of Penn writing the future of reels.