Hiram L. Leonard grew up hunting in the woods of Bangor Maine and learned his machining skills as a gunsmith and later as a maker of fine fishing rods. Leonard's six strip bamboo fishing rods revolutionized the fishing rod industry.
Around 1877 Leonard purchased the rights to Frank Philbrook's raised pillar fly reel design and Philbrook quickly agreed to produce the reels for him. Today, the orange and black marbleized Leonard fly reels are among the most coveted reels by collectors.
Julius vom Hofe of Brooklyn New York also made many of Leonard's fly reels. The reels built by vom Hofe were similar to the Philbrook & Paine models and often it takes an experienced collector to tell them apart.
Other reels marked H.L. Leonard include a raised pillar bi-metal fly reel made in several sizes and a raised pillar salmon reel with black hard rubber side-plates.
Although Leonard did not make any reels himself, all reels marked H.L. Leonard are considered very collectible.
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