In Reel Time

Fly Reels Past & Present

Fishing reels employed by anglers have progressed through the centuries from simple tools to sophisticated machines tailored to specific species of fish and the techniques used to pursue them. Nearly all anglers today regard the reel as indispensable, though the use of a reel to hold fishing lines wasn’t widely accepted until late in the 18th century. From that point on, jewelers, gunsmiths, watchmakers, and other skilled craftsmen set out to improve and refine the fishing reel, introducing multiplying gears, braking systems, and free-spool mechanisms, as well as unique designs and materials to improve functionality. An explosion of fishing reel-related patents introducing these and other ideas took place from the mid-19th to the early 20th century, many involving fly reels, and many having direct influences on today’s reels. Combining quality, innovation, and aesthetics, these examples showcase the reel maker’s art.