Fishing Tackle 18th Century Style 7

The 18th century saw great innovations in fly fishing tackle. Before then rods had to be individually modified to take the modern reel foot, but the latest design many advantages and in no time there was huge demand for a universal reel seat. Reels of the day were still small compared to the ones we know today, and were typically no more than an inch or so in diameter and width. Because lines were thin, and there was no distinction between the running line and fly line, there was no reason for them to be any bigger.

Apart from the development of the multiplier, reel design had change little Walton's day. Early 19th century reels were woefully inadequate, yet the wide drum, narrow diameter reel continued to dominate the market. If you managed to see an example of a British reels of this period you will see the poor quality and understand why they were not much liked at the time.

In America meanwhile another kind reel design was beginning to emerge. At the beginning, most American reels were home-made, crude wooden spools with iron seats. In that nineteenth century many Americans were either importing their reels, or making their own. Traditionalists often fished with discarded wool spools, bound into frames by the local tinsmith. In spite of all this, though, the native industry was developing. One innovation that soon became common, for example, was single-action brass or German silver reels with curved handles. It was a watchmaker from A watchmaker and silversmith from Paris, Kentucky, is believed to have made the first quality reels in the USA, sometime between 1805 and 1810. This man, George Snyder, realised that there was a need for a reliable multiplying reel, so he set about inventing one. In a few short years, firms such as Meek, Hardman and Milam, between them became responsible for further perfecting the design of the multiplying reel. Known as “Kentucky reels”, they were distinguished from British multipliers by the fact that they actually worked! Indeed, it wasn't long before designs emerged that were capable, unlike British reels, of casting a line directly from the spool. A number of innovations first seen on American reels, included the balanced crank handle and the first free-spool mechanism. Fly fishing tackle, in this sense, owes a great deal to the USA.

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