Here are six bits of trivia and oddities on that most essential piece of fishing equipment, the fishing reel.
Fishing is an activity custom made for tinkering, technological advancement and even silly stuff.
From simple wooden spools that did little more than hold line to modern reels built with space age materials and electronics, the fishing reel has been a constant source of interest for anglers and tinkerers alike.
Here are a half-dozen tidbits of history and trivia on that mechanical gadget that stands between you and that fish at the end of your line.
1. The very first fishing reels.
The earliest visual evidence we have of what might be considered a “modern” fishing reel is found in a Chinese painting from 1195.
The earliest written description of a fishing reel also comes from China, but is even earlier, dating from the 3rd century. These reels were little more than simple fly reels, with a spool, or wheel, and handle for storing, retrieving and pulling off line. Each turn of the handle equaled one rotation of the spool.
2. The first truly modern fishing reel.
A watchmaker and silversmith by the name of George Snyder is thought to have made the first significant mechanical improvement in the fishing reel. Snyder, from Paris, Kentucky, created a “multiplier reel” in the early 1800s.
The Kentucky Reel, as it was known, had a mechanical advantage in that for every turn of the handle the spool would turn four times instead of only one. The reel looked essentially like a modern baitcasting reel.
3. The most popular reel of all time.
The Mitchell 300 lays claim to being the best selling fishing reel of all time. In 1971 10,000 Mitchell reels were being manufactured each day, and by 1990, when Johnson, the fishing reel and tackle company, purchased Mitchell, over 30,000,000 Mitchell 300 reels had been sold worldwide.
4. The most world records.
Tibor Reel Corporation holds the first place record for most fishing world records set on their fly reels. Tibor reels, made in the USA in Delray Beach, Florida, have set more than 800 world records – more than any other fly fishing reel in history.
The Tibor Billy Pate model, for example, has over 225 world records alone to its credit.
5. The Guy-Ra-Tory Reel.
A July 1910 edition of “Popular Mechanics” ran an article on the Gyratory Reel, one of those unusual inventions that the magazine was fond of in the early 20th century. It was invented by Henry F. Crandall of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The magazine wrote:
The gyratory reel is so named because the spool not only rotates, but performs eccentric gyrations, the purpose of which is to cross-wind the line so that it cannot tangle. It is applying to the reel the winding principle employed in winding a ball of twine by hand, and it cross-winds the line without the aid of hand or complicated spool. When the line is being cast, no part of the reel is in motion except the spool itself.
6. The most expensive fishing reel in the world.
A fishing reel was offered at the Angling Auctions in London for $58,000 in 2011. The baitcaster, referred to as “The Holy Grail” of reels, was built by Graham Turner, a lifelong collector of fishing accouterments.
Now you’ve got a few more interesting though probably irrelevant bits of information floating around in your head as you reel in that next big fish.