If the Billinghurst is the first American fly reel, then the Orvis 1874 patent reel is the first modern American fly reel. Invented by Charles F. Orvis (1831-1915), the founder of the Orvis Company, the Orvis reel is mounted upright, has a narrow spool, and has ventilated sideplates—all features present in most of today’s models. The earliest Orvis reels came in a handsome black walnut case with a hinged lid, as seen here. The crank handle was removable and fit into its own compartment.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing Collection
Gift of the Orvis Company