Jigging for Lake Trout: Tackle: Drag and Twist
You are going to get a fair amount of line twist if you don't deal with it properly. If using fluoro on a spinning reel, fill the reel up, and start fishing. It may take several hours for the line to get twisted enough that it becomes a problem. You'll notice loops forming that get stuck in the rod guides. This is bad as it stops the descent of the jig! Even if it pulls through by itself you still don't want this. At this point, just pull off the last 50-80 feet of line, cut it, and re-attatch the jig. You can get a lot of use out of a reel full this way.
With braid twist seems to be less of a problem. If you do notice kinks developing you can cut your lure off, drop the line in the water and either drift or slowly motor away. Reel the line back in and that should remove a lot of the twist. You can also attach a few large splitshots and cast it out and retrieve it. One of the major advantages to using a baitcaster (or even a float reel) is that the line unwinds with the reel as it drops rather than falling off and being wound back on. With a baitcaster twist is rarely a problem and if it develops it's usually from a spiraling jig or lure, not from the action of the reel.
Drag: As with all fishing it's important to have your drag set properly. For this style of fishing, I crank it down tighter than I normally would. Lake Trout have bony mouths and it takes a lot to force a hook through. Being able to adjust your drag on the fly is very helpful- I have had reels where trying to loosen the drag had almost no effect until the tension was off the line, at which point it suddenly became very loose. If using a spinning reel and you've hooked a brute quickly dial it down so the fish won't break off. If you have a baitcasting reel keep the drag medium, and thumb the spool on the hooksets for extra power. One thing I love about using the float reel is the infinitely variable drag. Clamp down when setting the hook and use your hand to play the fish. It helps a lot to keep your drag hand wet especially with big fish.
Generally I set the drag about 1/4-1/3 of my leader's breaking strength. Even 4 lbs of drag (1/3 of 12 lb line) is a lot and you may want to ease off with a large fish on. Even the best knots weaken the line so going over 1/2 the rated strength isn't a good idea and is not necessary. An easy way to test your drag without using weights is to try to pull the line with your hand- if it pulls easily it's too loose, if won't budge it's too tight.
Testing the 'Red Phillips' knot with weights showed me most of the time 3-4 lbs of drag is sufficient, and lifting a 5 lb weight is difficult and makes it hard to hold onto your rod, nearly doubling over the rod I used. No problem with the knot, and Red Phillips claims it works just fine with lighter line like this. Faster to tie than the double uni, you're tying one uni and an overhand knot. (See link in right hand column.)
Keeping the drag relatively tight can help get the fish "up and out" quickly and prevent a few lost fish but some guys like a looser drag to keep barely-hooked fish from ripping loose. If it feels like a big one ease off the drag a bit after setting the hook. It's a balance point but there's a lot of wiggle room to find a drag setting that is comfortable for you. Some experimentation will be necessary to find the right point to enable you to set the hook and still play the fish with minimal loss. Making adjustments on every fish isn't necessary but sometimes it helps especially with the big ones.