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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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GROUP OF VINTAGE FISHING REELS
Sep 30, 9:00 AM MDT
GROUP OF VINTAGE FISHING REELS
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $50- $75
$304 Bids
5 Vintage Fishing Reels with Boxes
Oct 01, 10:00 AM EDT
5 Vintage Fishing Reels with Boxes
by Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $0- $0
$403 Bids
DAM QUICK 330N FISHING REEL
Sep 30, 9:00 AM MDT
DAM QUICK 330N FISHING REEL
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $25- $50
$202 Bids
Penn 310 GTI High Speed Graphite Reel with Cal Albright Custom Fishing Rod, 71 1/2", EC
Oct 05, 6:00 PM EDT
Penn 310 GTI High Speed Graphite Reel with Cal Albright Custom Fishing Rod, 71 1/2", EC
by Homestead Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$31 Bid
COLLECTION OF VINTAGE FISHING REELS
Sep 30, 9:00 AM MDT
COLLECTION OF VINTAGE FISHING REELS
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $50- $75
$101 Bid
Vintage Garcia-Matic No. 143 Fishing Reel
Oct 01, 9:00 AM PDT
Vintage Garcia-Matic No. 143 Fishing Reel
by California Auction Company LLC
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
(8) Fishing Reels, Shakespeare, Pflueger, Garcia
Oct 01, 10:00 AM MST
(8) Fishing Reels, Shakespeare, Pflueger, Garcia
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
ANTIQUE FISHING REELS
Sep 30, 9:00 AM MDT
ANTIQUE FISHING REELS
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $25- $50
$101 Bid
12 Vintage Fishing Reels
Oct 01, 10:00 AM EDT
12 Vintage Fishing Reels
by Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
STORM red and silver Reel TSSCK-2 and Fishing Rod
Sep 27, 7:00 PM EDT
STORM red and silver Reel TSSCK-2 and Fishing Rod
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $55- $70
$200 Bids
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur UC4600C Fishing Reel with 6' Ugly Stick Lite, EC
Oct 05, 6:00 PM EDT
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur UC4600C Fishing Reel with 6' Ugly Stick Lite, EC
by Homestead Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$30 Bids
4 pc Lot Collection of Fishing Reel Wrenches
Nov 05, 8:30 AM EDT
4 pc Lot Collection of Fishing Reel Wrenches
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur UC4600C Fishing Reel with Berkley Lightening Rod, EC
Oct 05, 6:00 PM EDT
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur UC4600C Fishing Reel with Berkley Lightening Rod, EC
by Homestead Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$30 Bids
Vintage Langley Reelcast Model 500 Casting Fishing Reel and Johnny Walker #CRR 3" Rod
Oct 05, 6:00 PM EDT
Vintage Langley Reelcast Model 500 Casting Fishing Reel and Johnny Walker #CRR 3" Rod
by Homestead Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$30 Bids
A Vintage Wooden Rope Fishing Reel
Oct 02, 1:00 PM EDT
A Vintage Wooden Rope Fishing Reel
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $80- $800
$800 Bids
A Vintage Wooden Rope Fishing Reel
Oct 02, 1:00 PM EDT
A Vintage Wooden Rope Fishing Reel
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $80- $800
$800 Bids
BONEFISH BILLY PATE FLY REEL, JURACSIK
Oct 08, 12:00 PM EDT
BONEFISH BILLY PATE FLY REEL, JURACSIK
by Blackwell Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Lot of 3 Vintage Empty Reel Boxes
Oct 01, 1:00 PM EDT
Lot of 3 Vintage Empty Reel Boxes
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $15- $150
$150 Bids
Seahorse Decor, Shakespeare Rod & Daiwa Reel
Oct 01, 10:00 AM MST
Seahorse Decor, Shakespeare Rod & Daiwa Reel
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Fishing Reels


Homestead Auctions

Homestead Auctions

Davis Brothers Auction

Davis Brothers Auction

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Auctioneers, Inc.

Auctioneers, Inc.