No poetry this week, but in honor of the Chicago Tribune's email stating that outdoor coverage will be reinstated, I thought I'd profile Larry St. John, The Tribune's earliest--and some say best--outdoor writer. This article from 1916 is interesting for a number of reasons, but I like it because it busts the myth that inexpensive reels could not be used by casters. Plus it mentions Ans. B. Decker. A second part was published the following week, which I'll post in the coming weeks.
Quadruple multiplying reels suitable for casting range from $1 up to $50--you can go higher still if you want extras like aluminum spools.
The $1 reel we refer to is the Shakespeare Uncle Sam. Considering its low cost, it is a remarkable production--you can actually cast with it, which is more than can be said of other winches at a similar price. Ordinarily we do not advise such low cost tackle, but for the youngster, say, who simply must have a reel, the Uncle Sam will do nicely for a starter. The $50 product is the Talbot Nos. 52, 53, and 54. Needless to say, it is a wonderful piece of work, rivaling in mechanical nicety the finest watch, so delicately adjusted, so finely geared that five grains will overcome its inertia.
Between the $1 and $50 reel most casters will find what they want. Beginners are often "scared stiff" by the reckless statements made by some angling writers that a really worth while reel fit for casting is impossible under $10 or $12--bunk, pure bunk. For example, the [Meisselbach] Tri-Part selling in Chicago for $2.65 is a real reel; so is the [Shakespeare] Precision at $2.50, and no doubt others.
A little higher in the scale we have the [Meisselbach] Takapart and the [Shakespeare] Service, selling at about $3.50--Ans.Decker, one of the best casters in the country, uses a Takapart. At $4.50 you can get a Shakespeare Perfect--a German silver, take down, jeweled reel that is a "darb." We have one that has had hard use for seven years and it is still in good condition.
True, these low priced tools will not last for generation, like the high grade ones do, but they are good, serviceable reels, regardless of what the high brow angling writers say. The average once in a while caster will never feel the need of a better one, although the high grade reels are desirable if you can possibly raise the price, especially if you fish often and hard.
-- Dr. Todd