The Ohio Tool Company (OTCO) manufactured their high-end big game reels for a very short period in the post-war 1940s. OTCO reels were one of the last great hand-made big game reels and were extremely well built. The OTCO trolling reels were made in the 4/0, 6/0 and 12/0 sizes.
The reel had a lever drag that could also be adjusted by removing the throw lever and re-positioning it on its serrated shaft to increase or decrease drag. These reels were also designed with a preset brake control knob on the rear side-plate. The OTCO big game reels had an innovative drag that was different in design than any other big game reel as it featured an internal cone brake.
Why the company ceased production of these reels remains unclear. It is likely that competition in the big game market and the cost of manufacturing such high-quality reels may have been major factors. However, further research into the owner of the company at the time, Lester E. Butzman, Sr, points to serious legal problems as perhaps being a significant factor.
The patent for the clutch and brake mechanisms for the OTCO reels (#2,531,610) was submitted by Lester E. Butzman, Sr. on May 27, 1948, and granted in November of 1950. It seems likely that since Mr. Butzman then served a three-year prison sentence in the early ‘50s, that would have caused some difficulty for the company and perhaps contributed to the short life of the OTCO big game reel. The OTCO patent also cites an earlier Endicott-Wilson patent, befitting of the similarity in drag design between these reels.
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