Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Voices from the Past: Larry St. John

The follow-up article to Larry St. John's earlier piece on fishing reels, from the 1916 Chicago Tribune. Again, what I like about these two articles is the recognition that you didn't need to buy a Meek or Talbot to enjoy a good fishing reel. Although clearly it didn't hurt to have a Talbot (in the $3 to $6 class!).

More Reel Facts

by Larry St. John

If one takes the word of most angling writers or listens to the ravings of the tournament "con artists" he would get the idea that $30 reels are as common as weeds in Grass Lake. Our observations, covering many years and extending over quite a bit of these United States and Canada, tells us otherwise. Outside of park casting pools you will find ten or more reels costing less than $10 to one costing more. Not only that; you will find these low cost reels in the hands of mighty good casters too.

There are not many reels in the $3 and $6 class. The [Shakespeare] Standard Professional is an old favorite; there is the German silver [Meisselbach] Takapart; the Milam Rustic and the new Talbot Star. This latter is a dandy, smooth running winch and the lowest priced reel on the market with spiral gears.

At $7.50 the Meek Simplex No. 33 is well liked. It is not a quadruple mulitplier, as the spool makes three and a quarter turns to one of the handle, but it is fast nevertheless, and runs with a smoothness that bespeaks spiral gearing. In the $10 field the Meek No. 25 is a takedown reel of quality--probably the best buy for the man who wants "class" and at the same time insists on a takedown. In the solid frame reels in the $10 class we know of none that equals the Talbot Comet.

When you pass $10 you begin to get in the aristocracy of reeldom. Probably the best known in the more than ten bucks class is the Blue Grass. The regular resale is $16 plain; $2 [more] jeweled. We confess an affection for our jeweled B.G. We have used more expensive reels, but none that we like better. In the same class are the Talbot Meteor and Nianqua, both of them of the highest degree of excellence. Of the higher grade reel we will have little to say further than if you buy a high grade Meek, Milam, or Talbot, it will be still a good reel long after you have hooked your last fish.

When fishing the rapids of the Maumee in Ohio a few years ago we ran across one of these early Kentucky reels--made in 1849--and it was still in fair condition. As we held this old residenter in our hands it brought visions of prairie schooners and red shirted miners. Think of the hundreds of valiant fighters this old forty-niner has prospected for and found.

-- Dr. Todd

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