For the fishing enthusiasts

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Project by stefang posted 05-11-2009 11:58 AM 3466 views 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My son is a fly fishing enthusiast. While in a local tackle shop he came across an old fishing reel on display. The store owner said the reel was made sometime in the late 1800’s. My son was able to borrow it, and he asked me if I could copy it. I didn’t know much about woodworking at the time and much less about metal working. Nonetheless I agreed to give it a try. Please feel free to laugh, especially at the drag gear in the last photo. All of the brass pieces are made from a solid chunk of brass including the nut which holds the two parts together. Everything works and it’s very close to the original. I was truly fascinated with this thing, it’s simplicity is elegant and effective. It was produced during a period when many wealthy aristocratic Englishmen visited Norway to fish for salmon. I’m not sure if it was made in Norway or somewhere else as there wasn’t any trademark. The original had rings scored into the sides like mine, but without the brass inlay. I felt it looked a little plain and so took the liberty of adding the brass inlays. The handle was also pretty crude and I’m not sure it was part of the original reel. The wooden part on my handle sits loose on a brass rod which it spins around. The original reel was turned from some mystery wood which has not warped and functioned perfectly whereas mine which is turned from birch has warped a bit and doesn’t work quite as well. The old craftsmen knew what they were doing! Unfortunately I failed to take a picture of the original so can only show you mine.

How it works

The button on the one side slides up and down to engage/disengage the drag, which makes a clicking sound when the reel is turned. The drag works when the arrow shaped piece (cog?) engages the gear. The two curves pieces act as a tensioning spring to regulate the “cog”.

This piece was made in 1998 and delivered on my son’s birthday. I might want to make another one of these in the future just to “get it right” providing I can get hold of another suitable chunk of brass. I hope you enjoy it for the historical value if not for the somewhat shoddy craftsmanship. Remember, it’s the journey and not the destination which is important. Hope you like it!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

13 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4268 days

#1 posted 05-11-2009 01:06 PM

Very cool, I owned one I had given to me by a friend. Do you know the price of the original? I gave mine to a friend who lives up North in Michigan. He loved it because he fly fishes and the reel I gave him was still usable even though it was an antique. You did an admirable job.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#2 posted 05-11-2009 01:24 PM

Thanks Jockmike2. The reel I copied wasn’t for sale. The shop owner just let us borrow it for awhile. . I’m not sure if the reel was used for Salmon or trout, or maybe both?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3807 days

#3 posted 05-11-2009 02:51 PM

Fantastic job….both wood and metal work.
I like it.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#4 posted 05-11-2009 04:45 PM

great idea well done

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3549 days

#5 posted 05-11-2009 10:19 PM

That is awesome! You built that from scratch! Made all the brass parts. Really cool!

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3796 days

#6 posted 05-12-2009 01:23 AM

Very impressive piece. You did a beautiful job on it. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View danriffle's profile


73 posts in 3595 days

#7 posted 05-12-2009 02:20 AM

This is a really cool piece. I’m fascinated with the mixture of brass & wood, and fascinated with old gadgets.

If you’re looking for brass to work with Online Metals sells small pieces ( But brass isn’t cheap.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#8 posted 05-12-2009 09:17 AM

Thanks guys, I’m glad you liked it. It was quite a challenge and I still think it was a bridge too far for me at the time. It is fun though to get a feel of how our forbearers were able to produce practical and long lasting reliable products with very simple materials and very few tools.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3698 days

#9 posted 05-20-2009 07:48 AM

Looks pretty good to me for a guy who claims he doesn’t know anything about what he’s doing :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Lboy's profile


186 posts in 4104 days

#10 posted 01-30-2010 08:20 PM

Very Nice!

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#11 posted 01-30-2010 10:03 PM

Thanks Lboy. I do wish it was better though. If I ever can get a chunk of brass I’m going to make a proper one.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View smiod's profile


45 posts in 1970 days

#12 posted 01-30-2013 11:06 PM

Your talent and craftsmanship is only over shadowed by your courage…not only good but creative!

-- stan, oxford, mi As my Idol Norm always said "never enough money and never enough clamps"

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#13 posted 01-31-2013 07:19 AM

Thanks for the compliment. It is easy to be brave when there is nothing to lose!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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