Vintage Tackle Contest: Pflueger Pelican

It’s time for another reel in our ongoing vintage tackle contest. This photo was sent in by Mike Rothwell, who … Continued

It’s time for another reel in our ongoing vintage tackle contest. This photo was sent in by Mike Rothwell, who says this is one of many reels his grandfather owned. Though Pflueger may be most noted for their Medalist fly reels, this Pelican was their first attempt at entering the spinning market back in the 1950s. As vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog, notes, there are some good reasons why the Pelican never left its mark on the tackle industry.

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Dr. Todd says:

__”The Pflueger Pelican was Enterprise Manufacturing Co.’s belated attempt to enter the spinning reel market. Designed in the early 1950s by Tom Sarah, Pflueger’s lead reel engineer (and certified reel genius with 40+ patents), internal strife delayed the Pelican’s launch for nearly two years. When it reached the American angler in 1955, the market had changed. Part of the problem was its look; while European firms were manufacturing reliable and aesthetic models, the Pflueger Pelican looked…well, about as graceful as a pelican about to land. That doesn’t mean it didn’t work–it’s a fine utilitarian reel–but when compared to the graceful lines of a Record or Mitchell, it lost out. It’s also a large reel for freshwater, but too small for saltwater, that came out at a time when ultralights like the Alcedo were becoming all the rage. It was not the hit that Enterprise needed, and Pflueger’s failure to develop a viable spinning reel led to their eventual decline and sale to Shakespeare in 1966. Your Pelican is worth $10-$20 in used condition, and twice that much (or more) in the box. For a picture of the 1953 Pelican patent, and a new in the box model, click here.”
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_Perhaps you didn’t find a rare and sought-after piece of history, Mike, but I bet your grandfather beat up some big fish with that reel in his day. Maybe you should clean it up and give it another shot at greatness on the water. You can take it fishing along with the new pliers headed your way.

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 ($50).

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