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Alan Reed

Original Bait-cast Reels Settle a Debate

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Been researching and can’t find the answer. Were original baitcasters designed to be mounted under the rod like a spinning reel? And where the crank handle on the left or right side?

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No, and the handle was on the right.  I have some 60+ year old knuckle busters with cork arbors.

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If you have 50 free minutes to listen to this, there's a lot of cool information on the history of not only Abu Garcia, but fishing in general. I watched this a few years ago and I remember it discussed this information.

 

 

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Great video. The only baitcasters I own are Ambassadeurs. I have had 7......gave two away to the grandkids. Still have 5. Last one was purchased back in the '80's. They all perform like they were new. This is one reel, you can be assured of, that you can pass down from generation to generation. There's nothing anyone can do, with any other reel manufactured today (regardless of price), that I cannot do equally as well with one of my Ambassadeurs.

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11 minutes ago, Crestliner2008 said:

Great video. The only baitcasters I own are Ambassadeurs. I have had 7......gave two away to the grandkids. Still have 5. Last one was purchased back in the '80's. They all perform like they were new. This is one reel, you can be assured of, that you can pass down from generation to generation. There's nothing anyone can do, with any other reel manufactured today (regardless of price), that I cannot do equally as well with one of my Ambassadeurs.

Was this the original casting reel?

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I don't know the history all too well, but if you're interested, you will also need to look at Hendryx, Shakespeare and Pflueger....if I'm not mistaken, all four companies were already producing baitcasting reels a centrury ago

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George Snyder in Kentucy is credited for the first multiply geared bait casting reel in 1810.

My 1st bait casting reel was a Langley Lure cast 330, 1955

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My old reels are Pflueger and Great Lakes.

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Baitcasters have been around for a long time, for sure. The early ones weren't nearly as sophisticated as today's reels. 

My first baitcaster was a Shakespeare 1920 Wondereel made sometime in the early '50s. No free spool, zero bearings, retrieve ratio of about 2.4:1, all this on a 5' steel rod,  but I still caught fish with it. 

Today's baitcasters are mechanical marvels in comparison.

 

Tom

 

 

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Back to the OP's original question - AFAIK, the crank was on the right-hand side on the earliest baitcasters. I've heard several theories as to why this was the case, the most convincing one is that the early reels had no drag system, therefore the fish was controlled with the crank (by back-reeling) and the crank should be in the strong hand. Since most people are right-handed, that's the way the reels were designed. I know from experience that you don't want to let go of the crank on those old timers when there's a fish of any size on the line. I'm pretty sure that's where the term "knucklebuster" originated.

 

Tom

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I "almost" learned how to use a baitcaster in the mid 70's with a green  Heddon Mark iv.  Quit using it and traded it for a Zebco Cardinal 4 spinning reel.

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The crank handle is on the right side so when a right handed caster make a wrist cast using a pistol grip rod, the reel handle spinning on top like a helicopter propeller and your thumb is on the spool. My old Langley 330 was a lightweight aluminum reel with drilled aluminum light weight spool like today's reels and could cast 50 yards.

I grew up casting a baitcasting reel "knuckle buster" without a free spool and never fought a fish by back reeling. You used your thumb for putting pressure on the spooled line. Ocean feels without free spools had a leather thumb pad attached to a cross bar to use putting pressure on the spooled line for big fast strong fish so you didn't burn your thumb.

Tom

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Very cool info here. Being a relatively young angler (26) and only using casting gear for about 12 years it's always cool to learn about the equipment used before my time. 

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