Fishing Reels

Fishing reels—like fishing itself—have become highly specialized over the last two centuries, and their evolution has left a variety of collecting options. Whether searching by company, era, or type, the fishing reel market contains many brands and models.

Early Chinese literature mentioned the fishing reel’s existence around 3-4 A.D., but it was nearly 1,000 years before an artistic version of a reel appeared in Ma Yuan's "Angler on a Wintery Lake" painting. The first advertised reels, narrow spindled and made of wood and brass, appeared throughout Great Britain in the mid 1700s. By the 1800s, reel invention had caught on in the U.S., and George Snyder, Francis Loomis, and A.H. Illingworth became a few of the forefathers to modern fishing reel mechanics. Snyder brought about the serpentine crank, while Loomis made the first successful automatic reel, and Illingworth modified the shuttle reel. In 1954, the French engineering firms of Charles Pons and Leon Carpano designed some of the first affordable spinning reels with functional bale arms.

Factors involved in determining a reel’s collectible value include age, scarcity, and quality, along with individual preference. Reels have a formal grading system, and valuation works on a scale of one to 10 with appearance and mechanics graded separately. Some highly valued reels include Nottingham, Howban, the Hardy Perfect Fly Reel, Heddon No. 30, and 1880s German silver or hard rubber reels.


Quick Facts

  • In 1874, Charles F. Orvis invented a reel and fly design that became the first modern fly reel in existence
  • Shops in London advertised fishing reels as early as the mid 1700s
  • A prototype of the first patented American fly reel made by William Billinghurst reached $40,320 at a Lang’s auction in 2008

Recommended Items at Auction

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METAL HOSE ON REEL
Oct 17, 12:00 PM EDT
METAL HOSE ON REEL
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$1211 Bids
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COLLECTION FISHING REELS, MITCHELL GARCIA & MORE
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
COLLECTION FISHING REELS, MITCHELL GARCIA & MORE
by Litchfield Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$95010 Bids
5 Rod and Reel, Millionaire 5H Reel, Zebco
Oct 17, 11:00 AM MST
5 Rod and Reel, Millionaire 5H Reel, Zebco
by R & R Auction INC
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
PFLUEGER 510 REEL WOODPLANE SHEARS ANTIQUE LOT
Oct 28, 9:00 AM EDT
PFLUEGER 510 REEL WOODPLANE SHEARS ANTIQUE LOT
by Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC
Est: $20- $40
$100 Bids
Garcia Mitchell 408 Fishing Reel
Oct 23, 12:00 PM EDT
Garcia Mitchell 408 Fishing Reel
by Lettieri Auction & Appraisal
Est: $80- $125
$400 Bids
(6) FLY FISHING GROUP, ROD, VEST, FLIES, REELS
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
(6) FLY FISHING GROUP, ROD, VEST, FLIES, REELS
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $300
$800 Bids
STORM red and silver Reel TSSCK-2 and Fishing Rod
Oct 19, 7:00 PM EDT
STORM red and silver Reel TSSCK-2 and Fishing Rod
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $55- $70
$200 Bids
Sawyer's View FInder & 40 Reels USA, Flowers
Nov 21, 11:00 AM EST
Sawyer's View FInder & 40 Reels USA, Flowers
by Moggies Auction Service
Est: $30- $50
$200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Fishing Reels


Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC

Affiliated Auctions & Realty LLC

Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery

Litchfield Auctions

Litchfield Auctions

Moggies Auction Service

Moggies Auction Service