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Vintage Tackle Contest: PEMCO Fly Reel

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March 17, 2011

Vintage Tackle Contest: PEMCO Fly Reel

By Joe Cermele

It's fly reel time in our ongoing vintage tackle contest. Though I've gotten a few photos of them, the reel below is one of the more interesting models, and it turns out it has a pretty cool history. The photo was sent in by Trace Bullock, who wrote:

This old fly fishing reel was given to me by my grandfather for a previous birthday. The brand name is PEMCO. The reel was patented in Minneapolis and the model # is 85.

Now on to the good stuff. According to vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog, this reel shares some ties with the auto industry. Dr. Todd says:

"What you have is a classic Perrine Free-Stripping Automatic Fly Reel, manufactured by the Minneapolis-based Perrine Manufacturing Co., an auto parts and sporting goods manufacturer founded in the 1910s. Emmett Burgess Perrine was an automotive engineer from Los Angeles who had a series of patents beginning in 1928 for automatic fly reels. Recent research by Steve Vernon shows that automatic reels were invented as early as 1826, and were popular in America by the 1880s. Perrine developed a new braking system that allowed for easier control of the coiled-spring powered line retrieval, and the reels became a fixture on the American angling scene for decades afterward. The company changed names numerous times (the latest I could fine being Orbex, Inc. in 1981) but the reels stayed remarkably similar. This is one of the reasons the company could offer lifetime service on its reels, regardless of age. They sell for around $10-$20 in nice condition, more in the box. For photos of various Perrine reels and ads, click here."

Trace, your grandfather gave you a good present there. I hope you still use it. If you do, you'll now be able to hit the river with a classic reel and a jazzy new pair of pliers! Congrats.

If you've already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven't and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to fstackle@gmail.com, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers (above) worth $50.

Comments (8)

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I predict a comeback for the automatic reel.

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from db270 wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I just glanced at the pic and was like, "how did a can of chew make it on the vintage tackle post?" Ha! I'm always impressed with some of the "advanced" features so early on in outdoors gear.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I found some of my grandfathers old fishing gear tucked away in the back of my Dads pole barn I've been cleaning out. I am now the proud owner of 3 telescoping steel flyrods in mint condition! I tried one out last summer and I was shocked at how well they worked, a little heavier, but they have such a nice action and when you set the hook it takes almost no effort to drive the hook home. They are about 40 inches long closed and about 9 foot opened.

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from whitefishpress wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I also believe the Automatic is due for a revival. With the revolution in materials the significant problem Autos have always faced -- weight -- has been mitigated or eliminated all together. A standard metal Martin Auto weighs about 10 ounces. The Perrine above probably 9 ounces, just too heavy for most modern composites. However, carbon or gel cast silicon bodies could reduce the weight down to a far more reasonable 4-5 ounces.

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from whitefishpress wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

Now THAT is funny. But there is a reason Perrine was in business 50+ years and Martin almost 100. For a reel that has sold millions, you can never find anyone to admit they own one!

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from StoneRiverTackle wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

Nice site article, I will be checking back soon to read more interesting articles on the automatic Fly reel, Thanks.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from walterwilhelm wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I think My dad had one of these when I was growing up, never saw him use it I think it was given to him and he did not want to ruin it. I think he gave it away once again.Thanks for the article it was a great read.

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from fireman273 wrote 2 years 3 weeks ago

I have one of the Pemco No. 85 reels and a pole that i inherited from wifes grandpa. I was wondering if anyone can tell me how old it is and what line i need to restring it. The line is original line i think. can anyone help me out.

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from db270 wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I just glanced at the pic and was like, "how did a can of chew make it on the vintage tackle post?" Ha! I'm always impressed with some of the "advanced" features so early on in outdoors gear.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I found some of my grandfathers old fishing gear tucked away in the back of my Dads pole barn I've been cleaning out. I am now the proud owner of 3 telescoping steel flyrods in mint condition! I tried one out last summer and I was shocked at how well they worked, a little heavier, but they have such a nice action and when you set the hook it takes almost no effort to drive the hook home. They are about 40 inches long closed and about 9 foot opened.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from StoneRiverTackle wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

Nice site article, I will be checking back soon to read more interesting articles on the automatic Fly reel, Thanks.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I predict a comeback for the automatic reel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from whitefishpress wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I also believe the Automatic is due for a revival. With the revolution in materials the significant problem Autos have always faced -- weight -- has been mitigated or eliminated all together. A standard metal Martin Auto weighs about 10 ounces. The Perrine above probably 9 ounces, just too heavy for most modern composites. However, carbon or gel cast silicon bodies could reduce the weight down to a far more reasonable 4-5 ounces.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from whitefishpress wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

Now THAT is funny. But there is a reason Perrine was in business 50+ years and Martin almost 100. For a reel that has sold millions, you can never find anyone to admit they own one!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from walterwilhelm wrote 3 years 4 weeks ago

I think My dad had one of these when I was growing up, never saw him use it I think it was given to him and he did not want to ruin it. I think he gave it away once again.Thanks for the article it was a great read.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fireman273 wrote 2 years 3 weeks ago

I have one of the Pemco No. 85 reels and a pole that i inherited from wifes grandpa. I was wondering if anyone can tell me how old it is and what line i need to restring it. The line is original line i think. can anyone help me out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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