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, 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.