Big Game Fishing Reels
"Reels as Big as Your Head"

WHAT ARE CONSIDERED ANTIQUE BIG GAME FISHING REELS: In a discussion about antique big game fishing tackle the first thing that we need to do is decide is where to make the cut off on the small end of the size scale. There is no cut off on the higher end because with the big game collector the bigger the better. The 10/0 size is the smallest reel considered a big game fishing reel. The 10/0 reel is about 5-1/2 inches in diameter (measuring the length of the sideplate) by about 3-1/2 inches across the inside of the spool. Next we have to determine the time period for collectable big game tackle. The first true big game reels were built somewhere around the mid 1920s and are still being made today. The collectable period ranges from the mid 1920s to the mid 1940s. During this time period there were several companies who were building small quantities of high quality big game reels by hand and they were very expensive. As you enter the late 1920s and the early 1930s some larger manufactures decide that they would like to get a share of the big game market and they jump into the picture too. Around the mid 1930s the first massed produced big game reels started to find their way into the market place and slowly start squeezing the smaller high quality makers out of the business. These reels were considerably less expensive than the hand made reels and as fishing reel technology got better along with fishing techniques the need for the larger more expensive tackle diminished. Only a few companies remained by the mid 1940s and only a couple of small high quality reel makers tried there luck after that and they met with little success.

Reels that are 10/0 and larger are true big game fishing reels. Most companies made their reels in the 10/0, 12/0, 14/0, and 16/0 sizes. One company, Fin-Nor of Miami Florida, who made their first big game reels in 1933 made a size that they catalogued as a 15/0. They were the only company to make a 15/0 reel and they made them until the mid 1940s when they finally dropped them from their line. The Schauffler reel built by Kohlhepp & Kimsey in New Jersey in the mid to late 1930s was the only reel that catalogued a 13/0 size reel. They also made an 18/0 size that was an absolute monster. Very few Companies made what is considered the Granddaddy of all reels the 20/0. Due to lack of demand and cost concerns only a hand full of these reels were ever made and even fewer exist today. The measurements of a 20/0 would be between 9 to 10 inches in diameter and between 5-1/2 to 7 inches across the inside of the spool. There may be larger reels still afield so be on the lookout.

Next we need to get one piece of terminology straight, the /0 system. When people talk about salt water reel sizes they talk in terms of 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 6/0, 9/0, 10/0, 12/0, 13/0, 14/0, 15/0, 16/0, 18/0 & 20/0 (my personal favorite). The /0 on the end of these terms seems to have been made up for a reason which was shortly thereafter forgotten and has remained shrouded in mystery for many years. It simply meant "OCEAN" or reels built primarily for saltwater use. Did all companies make their reels in all these /0 sizes? No, many companies made only smaller reels and many companies made only larger reels. Only a few companies made reels in most sizes. Were the /0 sizes used as a universal line capacity measurement agreed upon throughout the industry? No, although most companies' reels were quite similar in size it is not uncommon to find companies whose reels of the same /0 size did not have the same dimensions or line capacity. Even within the same companies the /0 size would change over the course of a few years. Not all companies used the /0 system to size their reels.

Below is a list of Companies that produced Big Game Fishing Reels. This list represents most large and small manufactures alike but I am adding to it all the time as new reels are being discovered. There are many reels that were made by unknown manufactures that at this point can not be added to this list  

American Big Game Reel Manufacturers

  1. B&M, Santa Monica, California
  2. Banister, Bryant, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  3. Bronson-Coxe Co., Bronson, Michigan
  4. Burke
  5. Carr, M.B.
  6. Coxe, Joseph A., Los Angeles, California
  7. Crawford, Hawaii
  8. Endicott-Wilson Corp, Detroit, Michigan
  9. Fin-Nor, Miami, Florida
  10. Garey, George W., California
  11. Hardigan, J.J.
  12. Hoesell Reel, Hallen Co., New York
  13. Klein, C.R., Santa Monica, California
  14. Kovalovsky, Arthur, Hollywood, California
  15. Lee's, Miami, Florida
  16. Marr, Walter D., Flint, Michigan
  17. Martina, Joseph, Hillside, New Jersey
  18. Ocean City Co., Phiadelphia, Pennsylvania
  19. Ohio Tool Co., Cleveland, Ohio
  20. Penn Fishing Tackle Mfg. Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  21. Reel King by SOMACO, Greer, South Carolina
  22. Schauffler Reel, Kohlhepp & Kimsey, New Jersey
  23. Shakespeare Co., William, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  24. Stead, A.J., Los Angeles, California
  25. Stevens, George, Miami, Florida
  26. Vom Hofe, Edward, New York, New York
  27. Vom Hofe, Julius, New York, New York
  28. Zwarg, Otto, St. Petersburg, Florida

English Big Game Reel Manufacturers

  1. Alcock, Redditch England
  2. Farlow, C. London
  3. Hardy Bros., Alnwick
  4. LaGrange
  5. Mitchell, Hugh
  6. Mitchell-Henry, Redditch England

Australian Big Game Reel Manufacturers

  1. A.C .Reel Co. (Andreas Reel)
  2. Alvey
  3. Atalanta (The Errol Bullen Reel)
  4. Bennett Engineering (Graeme Reels)
  5. Booth
  6. Bush E. G. (Marlin Reel, Super Marlin Reel, Little Giant Reel)
  7. Elder & Smith Co. (Cowell Reel)
  8. R.R. Taylor & Co. (Montague Imperial Reel)
  9. Rogers Bros.(Ebro Reel)
  10. Samson
  11. Willis, L.T. (Landem Reel, Neptuna Reel, Swordfish Reel, Tasman Reel, Sil Rohu)

If you have a reel that you need more information about or a reel that you would like to sell, please contact us.

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Antique & Classic Fishing Reels
"Reels As Big As Your Head"

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