Angling historians have long been frustrated in trying to trace the history of the fishing reel. English literature first reported a "wind", installed within two feet of the lower end of the rod, in 1651. This is usually accepted as the earliest known reference to a reel. However, there are examples of Oriental paintings that depict Chinese fishermen using reels of various sizes that date to the 13th Century.
Until the 1800's the reel was little more than a storage place for excess line. However in the 19th century we had rapid development of the multiplying reel. The British claim to be the originators of the multiplying reel, but the reels of George Snyder, of Paris, Kentucky, have become the most famous 19th century multipliers. Snyder's reels were developed in the 1820s, and became the origin of the "Kentucky Reel".
From these reels evolved the famous Kentucky reels of Meek, Milam, Sage, Hardman and Gayle. During the middle of the 19th century multiplying reels were also developing into a style of their own in New York City. The "New York" reel was usually a ball handled multiplier made of brass or nickel silver. Famous makers were the Vom Hofes, Conroy, Krider, Shipley, Malleson, Crook and many others. Whereas the Kentucky reels were handmade by one person, the reelsmiths of New York mass produced quality products in a factory.
Multipliers were not the only reels being developed to a high art by American craftsmen at this time. There were wonderful developments by Orvis, Leonard, the vom Hofes, Hendryx, Malleson and others. In the late 1800s there were developments in reels used for Tarpon and other big game fish. Many new companies sprung up and flourished for a period only to disappear as the tastes of American anglers changed. Names such as Meisselbach, Shakespeare, Pflueger, and South Bend became the most popular, then slowly died. We had ingenious automatic fly reels... Indiana style reels had their day. We had Bronson, Ocean City, Penn and Langley.
Then we had the new craze to sweep the country -- spinning reels imported from Europe, and then manufactured by all the American companies. We've had it all, and it still keeps coming. Fishing reels have been evolving since those Chinese reels of the 13th Century, and they will continue to evolve.
We are proud to carry Shimano and Abu Garcia reels in our store. But, if you want another brand, we can order it for you. Just ask!
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