Losing Reel Perspective? With all the advances in modern bait casting reels, it is easy to lose the perspective on what it was like before anti-backlash and the other advancements in today’s modern bait casting reels. Taking A Look Back In the old days, reels did not have the drag mechanisms that we are using today. The only drag system that you had back then was your thumb. Hand in hand with no drag, was the lack of an anti-reverse mechanism…henceforth the reputation of older reels as knuckle busters. There was no thumb bar for free spool activation. There was no such thing as a 4.7:1 gear ratio…it was 1:1. Using the reels of the past to fish for and fight Musky, required a completely different set of skills Because there was no anti-reverse or drag system, you could not palm the reel or hold the rod in front of the reel as many of us do with today’s reels. You needed to keep your thumb at the ready to supply drag and to prevent the mother of all backlashes. Fighting The Fish If you were accomplished and lucky enough to tie into a Musky back then, the whole experience demanded your complete attention, as you can see from the photo below.