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Lure Review

The Mark Drag, by Panther Martin, adds extra enticement to trolling rigs

Date: 4/11/05
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: Panther Martin
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.25

Introduction: Trolling inline blades isn't a new concept, in fact the technique has been successfully used anglers targeting multiple species for decades. Panther Martin brings trolling to the next level by combining their popular holographic blades with their proven Vivif swimbait. The "Mark Drag" combination is a very attractive new trolling combo that can be used in both fresh and saltwater.


Panther Martin Mark Drag Specifications

Class Trolling
Blades 4
Colors/Patterns 2 available
Wire Length 30 inches + 8.5 inches to lure
Lure Sizes 1 oz and 2.5 oz
MSRP $7.99, $9.99


The Mark Drag, a new trolling rig that sports Panther Martin's classic blades


Impressions: The Panther Martin Mark Drag is a brand new addition to their ever-growing series of lures. The Mark Drag consists of four classic Panther Martin blades sporting holographic patterns. The blades are held inline via a 30 inch coated wire which is rated at 22 pound test. At each end of the wire there are rugged snap swivels that will provide easy and quick changes when needed. In addition to the inline trolling blades, the Mark Drag comes with Panther Martin's deadly Vivif swimbait that we reviewed at the beginning of last year. To put some distance between the last blade and the Vivif, an additional 8.5 inches of wire, in conjunction with another snap swivel, connects the inline blades to the swimbait.


Complete Rig for Mark Drag Tests

Downrigger Scotty Electric Propack 1116
Rod Daiwa Southern California Special
Reel Penn 320GTi
Line 30 lb. Stren High Impact

Field Tests: The Mark Drag is a very versatile rig to run. It can be fished for many species of fish including blue fish, salmon, trout, halibut, stripers, albacore, pike, and much more. To test this new Panther Martin trolling combo we put it up against striped bass, salmon, trout, and halibut in the Pacific.


The attractive blades are great for salmon trolling


Performance: With the assistance from our handy Scotty downrigger we put the Mark Drag to the test. As we began to lower the downrigger we noticed the blades immediately started to spin and the Vivif came to life with superb tail kicking action. The optimal trolling speed determined during our tests was right around 3 mph, which is well within the recommended range described by Panther Martin of 2 to 4 mph.


The Panther Martin holographic blades are very eye-catching especially when light reflects off of them, notice the beads that are in place to help the rig maintain a smooth rotation, and they are also an added attractant.


For most of the fishing we used the complete Mark Drag rig which includes the Panther Martin Vivif swimbait. The results were outstanding. By using a Garmin fishfinder we matched our trolling depth to the bait, and were able to pick up fish. No fish can ignore an easy meal, and the Mark Drag blades and swimbait combination seemed to do a good job at mimicking a small school of bait. With species such as halibut, where the fish won't swim a great distance to take its prey, the spinning and thumping blades do catch their attention and rigs trolled at the same depth with the Mark Drag had a 30% higher strike ratio than our normal rig with the same swimbait.


Changing out baits is easy with the secure clip, you can even run live-bait if you choose


Even though the Mark Drag comes with a Vivif, you do have a choice not to use it. Detaching the swimbait is quick via a snap swivel, and attaching your own choice of lure is just as easy. For example when we fish the Salmon opener we chose to apply the attractive blades but attached a purple haze Hootchie to the rig instead. The blades did the job at luring the salmon to come closer to take our lure. While about 80 percent of the anglers that day got skunked, we have to thank the Mark Drag for our two successfully landed salmon.


The performance of the new Panther Martin Mark Drag is splendid, but there was one thing that can be improved on this rig. A snap swivel is used to connect the short 8 inch wire to the lure directly. This large swivel is brawny and required for larger species, but it's a bit too large for undersized lures or with fish that have superior vision and spook easily. A change in this part of the combination will surely improve the realistic appeal and action of the Vivif lure.


Rugged components are used throughout the Mark Drag


Durability: The Panther Martin Mark Drag combo held up nicely throughout our tests. The wire, blades, and swivels were all quality components and requires a quick rinse after each use to keep them as good as new. The swimbait withstood the offshore conditions as we expected because it's the exact same Vivif we tested in the past. We are pleased to see that this trolling rig was able to deal with such a wide variety of species without suffering any damage from the fish or austere saltwater conditions.


Anytime you troll, this combo can be used to increase your chances at landing more fish. These two Halibut fell victim to the Mark Drag as we bounced the Vivif swimbait on the sandy bottom

 The Mark Drag is a deadly combination when trolled. It can be used for all types of trolling applications when targeting a wide range of freshwater and saltwater game fish. Though not strong enough for large hard hitting tuna, the Mark Drag can be used for species ranging from immense East Coast stripers to whopping Pacific Halibut.


Panther Martin Mark Drag Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The overall construction is good with durable non-corrosive components. The Vivif will also withstand many strikes before it requires changing 8.5
Performance Great performance with smooth spinning blades and tail whipping action on the swimbait 8.5
Price If you look at what's out there, the Mark Drag is actually not expensive and it comes with a swimbait. The price falls between low to mid price range 8
Features This trolling combo features a tempting swimbait that we reviewed in the past and four attractive holographic blades that does a great job at luring fish 8
Design (Ergonomics) The design stuck with what Panther Martin is known for, their popular spinners. The snap swivel that attaches directly onto the Vivif can be changed but the overall rig is nicely designed 8
Application This trolling combination can be used in fresh and saltwater, and it can be trolled at all depths to target a wide range to fish 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Flashy spinning blades L Large visible snap swivel connects the wire to lure and can affect action on smaller baits
J Good overall construction  
J Applicable for multi-species  

Conclusion: Trolling is an effective way to target many types of quality fish and the right gear can step up the performance of any lure. Tools like a downrigger will get you into the target zone, but you'll still need to use more to increase your odds at catching fish. The Panther Martin Mark Drag is a great addition to your trolling gear, and it will increase your catch rate. The revolving Panther Martin holographic blades have been used in everything from delicate spinners to full size trolling lines and provides both a visual and audible signal to fish afar, attracting them close enough for them to willingly target the trailing Vivif or bait. The complete trolling rig delivered excellent performance and proved quite durable in our tests. If you enjoy trolling for fish, then we recommend taking a look at Panther Martin's new Mark Drag, and add that extra bit of enticement to your conventional rigs.









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