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Vintage Buyers Guide to Fly Reels

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 23, 2017
For this week's Blast from the Past I was able to find a handy tip for picking out a new fly reel for that special someone on your Christmas List....taken from the Sunday Oregonian June 2, 1912

Single Action More to Be Desired Than Automatic Devices, Says Backus.


Veteran Angler Tell Some Choice Fishing Gossip and Gives Tip on Where the Trout and Salmon Are Biting Just Now.


A fly fishing reel is a small circular contrivance that fits the end of rod and is used to wind the line on. At first glance It would seem that almost anything that would hold the necessary amount of line, and turn easily would answer the purpose, but not so. There are at least 140 different kinds and sizes of fishing reels, all with a certain style and method of winding in the unlucky fish. Including several patterns of automatic reels, which do their own winding, sometimes.

Some Have Jewel Bearings.
Reels are made of almost any material brass, rubber, nickel, aluminum,steel, gunmetal, German silver and some of coin silver with real jewel bearings. Some are single action, others quadruple multiplying, while in the automatic reels the action closely resembles a condensed alarm clock. The point is, which is the best type for actual fishing?

You pick up a fine new reel, with its shining- rubber plates and polished, nickel bands, and give the handle a twirl. It spins beautifully. It's true, but how much good will that high speed whirl do you on a brushy trout stream.

After considerable experience with all sorts of reels, I am convinced that the narrow spool, single-acting reel is the best type for all-around trout fishing. It a spool being narrow and deep, you can wind In the line without giving It any attention, and on account of its large diameter It will retrieve the line Just as fast as the average multiplier.

Most single-action reels are of very simple and sturdy construction. In many patterns there are but two parts,the frame and the spool, the latter being held In place by a single larger screw. There is absolutely nothing for the line to catch on but the small winding handle, and it hugs the spool so closely that it is seldom In the way.

An automatic reel not necessary.
A reel of this type, fitted with a strong, simple click, which by the way should be used all the time, will give you the greatest amount of service,with the least trouble.

Many anglers are strong supporters of the automatic reel for trout fishing. As I have never actually used one, I cannot speak from experience, but will say that I never intend to. Any time that a fish Is too fast for my rod and fingers, he is entitled to a clean getaway, and with my best wishes.

In fly fishing, the rod and the line are the most Important factors. All that Is required of the reel Is to take care of the line, and a reel such as I have described will do this admirably.

Price is usually Modest.
Fly reels are usually quite modest in price, but I recently saw one of English make, built of aluminum alloy,with a removable spool and adjustable click, which, if bought at retail in this country would not leave the purchaser much change out of a $20 bill.
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