Sometimes when I forward an winner’s vintage tackle contest submission email to Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog, there are multiple photos attached, and I tell the Doc which one I like most. But if something in the mix is worth more money, or has a cooler back story, he’ll veto my choice. Case in point, this old fly reel submitted by Dave White. It doesn’t look like anything special, but apparently this old beater has a lot more history than the lure Dave submitted. Fine by me…I love old fly reels that look like they’ve been there and done that.


Dr. Todd says:

_”You have an iconic fly reel manufactured by Harvey Carlton of Rochester, New York. Harvey founded the Carlton Manufacturing Company in 1903 and made a number of really neat reels, including the Ideal fly reel, which you have a nice example of. They came in a number of sizes and finishes, yours is black and less commonly found than the nickel plated or German silver models. Carlton made reels until 1908, when he renamed his company the Rochester Reel Company, which according to author Phil White seems to have folded around 1910, although Carlton’s reels continued to be sold until 1920. All Carlton/Rochester reels are scarce and collectible, and yours should be valued at around $75-$100. To see an example of a German Silver model in a box, click here.”


Sweet find, Dave! If that were my reel, I’d put it on an old bamboo rod and give it a shake. It’s a little beat up, but that only adds character. Thanks for sending and keep an eye on your mailbox, because there’s a set of Berkley Aluminum 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, 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.