The Other Reel of the Decade – The Mitchell

The Garcia Mitchell 300 circa 1973.

The Garcia Mitchell 300 circa 1973.

Back in July, 2012 we posted a piece about a reel that garnered a lot of comments – not on the site here but on Facebook and also through direct comments. It seemed a lot of the readers were upset that I had chosen the Zebco Cardinal series reel as the reel of the decade – 1970s.

They wrote in that the French Garcia Mitchell was by far superior than the Swedish reel and how could I think such a dastardly thought. Well, personally I didn’t like the Mitchell and for a couple reasons. For one, on half of them the bail went in the opposite direction of all other reels – which really drove me nuts when I had 30 reels to wind line on at the tackle shop – and two, the Cardinal just seems sleaker and less clanky.

The Garcia Mitchell 308/408 ultra-light circa 1973.

The Garcia Mitchell 308/408 ultra-light circa 1973.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox.

In order to give credit where credit’s due, I tried to find some decent pictures of some of the old Mitchells and couldn’t find any worthy of an article. That is until last week when I acquired a 1973 Garcia Fishing Annual.

At nearly 200 pages in length, the Garcia Fishing Annual was not only a catalog of good produced and/or sold by Garcia, it was half filled with stories on all types of fishing along with tips and tactics from the day’s best anglers.  I don’t ever remember seeing one of these books so I feel pretty lucky to have the one I have.

The high-speed version of the Mitchell 300, the 410. circa 1973.

The high-speed version of the Mitchell 300, the 410. circa 1973.

Anyway, looking through the book I came to the Mitchell Series Reels and decided to post about the most popular of that series – the ever-famous 300, the ultra-light 308/408s and the high-speed version of the 300, the 410. The pictures show all the reels’ specifications along with a manufacturers description.

All joking aside, they were great reels of the time, as proof in their sales reflected. They just never sold one to me – just sayin’.

  • fish_food

    Yep–I also hated to spool customers’ Mitchells when I worked at the tackle shop. Some spools were brittle would sometimes implode if the line was wound on the tighter side!

    • FF,

      Yep, I broke my share of those things too. It helped if you put dacron backing on the spool first. The other reels that were a pain for breaking spools on the line winder were the old Penn really that had the bakelight spools. Squidders, Jigmasters, Monofils….. hated filling them too.

  • We rebuilt 100’s of 300’s at the tackle shop – shims, new bail springs, etc. When the cardinal came out it had ball bearings and two bail springs, there was no comparison on smoothness and reliability. We did like the 408 which had ball bearings. Chuck Woods got us using the shakespeare 2062 for ripping scorpions – it also had ball bearings and could stand up to the pressure which the 300’s couldn’t. The 300 was a great reel in its time but that was over by the time the cardinal came out.